A close friend of R. Kelly said Tuesday the woman who posted bond for the singer met him on a cruise five months ago.
Don Russell, a Kelly friend and adviser, said that within a few months of meeting the R&B singer Valencia Love posted $100,000 to help Kelly win his freedom from Cook County Jail after he spent three nights in custody.
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Love was a fan of Kelly’s music when she met the 52-year-old singer aboard a Spirit of Chicago cruise on Lake Michigan in September, Russell said. Over the weekend, she called members of Kelly’s inner circle and told them she wanted to help when she saw he wasn’t able to make bail.
“She wanted Rob to have a chance at justice, and she thought he’d have a better chance outside of jail than inside,” Russell said.
Love was with Kelly’s group after the singer was released from jail Friday, Russell said, and gave a toast to her short friendship with Kelly, saying she knew she needed to help a friend in need despite only meeting last fall.
But a woman who called the Sun-Times and identified herself as Love disputed aspects of Russell’s account in a brief interview. She declined to say how she met the singer but acknowledged paying the bond.
On court paperwork, Love describes herself as a “friend” of Kelly’s as she shelled out $25,000 for each of the four cases — all with a different alleged victim — in which Kelly is accused of aggravated sexual abuse.
Although she put down six figures to get Kelly out of jail, Love’s own finances have been rocky, court records show.
She filed for bankruptcy in 2015, saying she couldn’t pay $2,700 in parking tickets. She told the court she was a teacher at a South Side day care where she’d worked for seven years.
But in 2017, she and her former husband came into a windfall. Each got about $1.1 million in a legal settlement from a wrongful-death lawsuit they filed against the former Children’s Medical Hospital in Chicago, court records show. Their daughter had died in 2010 during a heart procedure at the hospital, according to the records.
Love, 47, of southwest suburban Romeoville, is a corporate officer of the day care where she was a teacher, according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. She also is listed in secretary of state records as a manager of a restaurant, Love on the Blu, in south suburban Blue Island.
On Monday night, after Kelly was released from jail, the singer and his friends went to the flagship McDonald’s in River North before they spent four hours at Biggs Mansion, a Gold Coast cigar lounge.
Outside the lounge, Russell said Kelly told him last year that he had “zero dollars in the bank” because he “trusted the wrong people” who took advantage of him. Since then, Russell claimed, “Money is coming to him, but not as much as he would like.”
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, said in court last week that the singer’s finances were “a mess” after he was dropped from his record label following recent boycotts of Kelly’s music. Greenberg claimed Kelly’s residual income from his music was limited, and that Kelly didn’t even own the rights to his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Contributing: Andy Grimm