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R. Kelly back in jail for failing to pay $160K in child support

R. Kelly walks into the Daley Center in Chicago for a hearing in a child support case earlier this month. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file photo

R. Kelly was taken back into police custody Wednesday for failure to pay more than $161,000 in child support.

According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Kelly will remain in custody at the Cook County Jail until he pays the $161,663 he owes to his ex-wife. His next court hearing in the case is set for March 13 at the Daley Center.

In the bowels of the downtown courthouse, Kelly was taken out the back of the courtroom with his hands behind his back. His defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, followed soon after. Since the case is under seal, reporters and other members of the public were not allowed in the courtroom for the proceedings.

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Last month, a Cook County judge issued an order that would send Kelly to jail if he didn’t pay $161,663 he owes his ex-wife by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Darrell Johnson, Kelly’s publicist, told reporters after the hearing that Kelly had arrived at the courthouse prepared to pay anywhere between $50,000 to $60,000 upfront.

“He came here in good spirits expecting to walk out,” Johnson said. “He came here to make some arrangements with what he had.”

Johnson said Kelly was “depressed, deflated, [and] upset” about being sent to jail. He added that Kelly’s camp hopes to have the R&B superstar out of jail by next Wednesday.

Getting locked up for not paying child support is “not unusual at all,” said Alyssa Mogul, a Chicago-based family law attorney who is not involved in the Kelly case.

“It’s how the courts enforce their orders,” Mogul said. “The numbers may be larger for R. Kelly, but people who disobey court orders to pay child support are subject to imprisonment. It happens all the time.”

Kelly late last month struggled to raise the $100,000 required to secure his release on $1 million bail on multiple counts of sexual abuse in four separate cases charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney office. The singer spent three nights in jail before a suburban woman — a fan who met him on a Lake Michigan cruise in the fall — put up the $100,000.

At his bond hearing on the sex abuse cases, the judge denied a request from prosecutors to hold Kelly in jail until he had both posted bond and paid his child support.

R. Kelly’s jail booking photo over failing to pay child support.

All records in Kelly’s 2009 divorce from dancer Andrea Kelly are sealed, but a copy of a judge’s order on his failure to pay child support was among records that became public during that bond hearing. Judge Lori Rosen on Feb. 6 ordered Kelly be jailed unless he paid the bulk of the $194,000 he owed for child support, accrued interest, and educational expenses. But the order gave Kelly until Wednesday to make payment.

It’s common for judges to order people to jail for unpaid child support.

Greenberg said after the bond hearing that despite a decades-long career and millions of records sold, the singer’s finances are “a mess.” Kelly’s income took a significant hit after he was dropped by his record label amid public outcry over allegations of sexual abuse of minors raised in the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.”

Kelly, for months, had dodged process servers from Andrea Kelly’s lawyers, which prevented the child support demands from moving forward in court, said Eric France, manager for Andrea Kelly, but the unpaid balance he owed his wife continued to build.

“Mr. Kelly has more than 20 people on his staff who, needless to say, are being paid,” France said. “He is not without means. Not until he was arrested did he say he didn’t have any money.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated to correct the spelling of Darrell Johnson’s name.