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R. Kelly Turns Himself In ... On Sexual Abuse Charges

2/22/2019 6:18 PM PST

R. Kelly just surrendered to police in Chicago ... turning himself in after being charged with sexual abuse of 4 girls, at least 3 of whom were minors. 

The embattled R&B singer turned himself in Friday night at a Chicago police station.

As we reported ... prosecutors in Chicago hit Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Friday morning, and 9 of the 10 counts involve alleged victims ranging in age from 13 to 16 years old. There are 4 alleged victims in total, and one of them is the subject of 4 different counts. 

According to the criminal complaint, the allegations include oral and vaginal sex with a girl between the ages of 13 and 17 ... and the allegations are extremely graphic. 

Michael Avenatti says he's representing at least 1 of the alleged victims in the Kelly indictment ... and he says the new sex tape he turned over to prosecutors shows R. Kelly engaging in sex acts with a 14-year-old girl -- vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex and urination.

Avenatti says he's planning to go after R. Kelly's enablers -- lawyers, managers, agents and others whom he says stood idly by and protected the singer as he sexually abused young girls. Avenatti's mission ... bringing them to justice.  

Avenatti also claims Kelly's 2008 trial -- in which he was found not guilty -- was rigged by threats and payoffs. 

R. Kelly is facing serious time behind bars ... the criminal sexual abuse charge is a class 2 felony in Illinois, and each charge carries a max sentence of 3 to 7 years in prison. 

Jussie Smollett Hoax May Have Been Concocted After Attack on Lee Daniels' Gay Cousin

2/23/2019 1:00 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Jussie Smollett might have gotten the idea to stage his own attack after Lee Daniels talked about his cousin getting assaulted because he's gay ... at least that's what some members of the "Empire" cast think.

Sources close to the "Empire" production tell TMZ ... some cast members think Jussie's gears started grinding in his head days after Lee posted a video on Instagram on January 10 calling out homophobia. In that same post, the "Empire" creator captioned it, "This past week my cousin was beat up for being gay and I am sick of hearing these stories."

Our sources say Lee then showed up to the set and shared more about the story. Everyone was visibly upset that Lee's family had gone through this horrific ordeal. The sources now say this might have been where Jussie got the idea to take matters into his own hands ... and become an LGBT hero.

The Chicago PD Superintendent says Jussie's motive was money -- he felt he was underpaid on the show. Interesting ... because Lee Daniels is the guy in charge of the cash register. 

As you know by now ... cops say Jussie's "attack" was a hoax and allege the actor paid 2 Nigerian brothers $3,500 with a personal check. Jussie's been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.

Jussie -- who faces up to 3 years behind bars -- has already been wiped from the end of the current season.

R. Kelly I Can't 'Survive' Trial ... Everyone Hates Me!!!

2/23/2019 12:50 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

R. Kelly's maintaining his innocence despite being charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse, but he thinks he's screwed anyway ... because he's already lost in the court of public opinion.

Sources close to the singer tell TMZ ... he believes it will be impossible for him to get a fair trial in the aftermath of Lifetime's docuseries, "Surviving R. Kelly," and nonstop media coverage -- especially in Chicago.

As one source put it ... "There isn't a person in Cook County who hasn't heard all the hateful things said about him."

We're told R. Kelly believes ... even if he presents evidence proving his innocence, the jury will still find him guilty. Our sources say he's moved on from panic attacks and has been in a depressed meltdown for days.

As we reported ... Cook County prosecutors hit R. Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Friday morning. There are a total of 4 alleged victims, 3 of whom were between the ages of 13 to 16. 

Attorney Michael Avenatti also released images from the video he submitted to the State's Attorney, showing what appears to be R. Kelly. He says the video shows the singer having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Avenatti blasted R. Kelly's enablers as well -- lawyers, agents, managers and others whom he says stood idly by as the singer sexually abused girls -- and says he won't stop until they're all brought to justice.

Killer Mike Jussie Should Apologize ... And We Should Move On

2/23/2019 12:30 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

The Jussie Smollett "attack" has enraged millions of Americans, but for Killer Mike, it's no big deal.

We got the rapper Friday at LAX, and his take is very different from most. He says, after all, Jussie's an actor and actors assume roles. Here, he just allegedly assumed the role of a liar.

Killer Mike acknowledges Jussie screwed up but says a mea culpa will do, and after that, we all need to get a life and move on.

He's short, sweet and to the point. 

R. Kelly Charged with 10 Counts Sexual Abuse ... Warrant Issued for Arrest

2/22/2019 2:02 PM PST
Exclusive Details

2:15 PM PT -- Michael Avenatti just said he represents at least 1 of the alleged victims in the R. Kelly indictment, and he reps a total of 2 victims, 2 parents and 2 whistleblowers who were part of the singer's inner circle. He says the videotape he submitted to prosecutors shows R. Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl -- vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex and urination. He says at one point the girl was forced to watch a video of R. Kelly, whom she called "daddy," having sex with another minor.

Avenatti says he is going after R. Kelly's enablers -- lawyers, agents, managers and others whom he says stood idly by as R. Kelly sexually abused girls. He says his mission is bringing them to justice.

And, Avenatti says the 2008 trial -- in which R. Kelly was found not guilty -- was rigged, with various forms of obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.    

Avenatti says he has yet another video and is in the process of procuring a third video. 

2:00 PM PT -- Avenatti just released this image from the video he submitted to the State's Attorney, showing what appears to be R. Kelly. He says the singer is having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

12:20 PM PT -- Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx just read the charges and dates of when the alleged sex crimes occurred. She said the first victim was allegedly abused between May 26, 1998, and May 25, 1999. The second victim was between September 26, 1998, and September 25, 2001. The third victim on February 18, 2003. And, the fourth victim between May 1, 2009, and January 31, 2010.

Foxx also said "we anticipate [Kelly] will appear in bond court [Saturday] afternoon." She answered no questions in the brief news conference.

Michael Avenatti joined us Friday on "TMZ Live," explained why he felt it was so important to keep his months-long R. Kelly investigation under wraps. Of course, that investigation uncovered the latest alleged sex tape of Kelly.

12:00 PM PT -- According to the Associated Press, a no-bail arrest warrant has been issued for Kelly. 

R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts by the Cook County State's Attorney.

Prosecutors hit him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse Friday morning. TMZ has learned 9 of the 10 counts involve alleged victims ranging in age from 13 to 16 years old. One of them is the subject of 4 different counts. There are a total of 4 alleged victims.

According to the complaint, the allegations include oral and vaginal sex with a girl between the ages of 13 and 16. The complaint says he "transmitted his semen onto [the alleged victim's] body for the purpose of Robert Kelly's or [the alleged victim's] sexual gratification or arousal, by the use of force or threat of force."

Sources connected to Kelly tell TMZ the singer plans to voluntarily turn himself in to authorities tonight. Still, prosecutors will reportedly appear before a judge today seeking an arrest warrant for him.

The criminal sexual abuse charge is a class 2 felony in Illinois, and each charge carries a max sentence of 3 to 7 years in prison. TMZ broke the story ... 2 women testified for the grand jury over the last week, including one who provided physical evidence. We're told as many as a dozen women came forward to testify.

A grand jury had convened about a week ago to investigate the alleged sex tape Michael Avenatti handed over to authorities. 

Sources connected to the case tell us the tape was a pivotal force leading to the charges. We're told that Avenatti and his client spent a significant amount of time with the Cook County State's Attorney and the grand jury in the last few weeks.

As we reported, Avenatti says he uncovered the VHS tape after his clients alleged Kelly had been having sex with minors for years. The tape reportedly shows Kelly having sex with a girl who seems to be 14 -- with both Kelly and the girl referring to her genitals and other body parts as being 14 years old.

The charges come directly on the heels of 2 other Kelly accusers coming forward with their attorney Gloria Allred. The women allege sexual misconduct by Kelly in a Baltimore hotel room in 1998 ... when they were both underage teens.

It's still unclear when the new alleged sex tape was shot, but Avenatti said he was sure it fell within the statute of limitations.

Originally Published -- 10:31 AM PST

Jussie Smollett 'Fess Up if You're Guilty, We'll Support You ... Says Bishop O.C. Allen

2/22/2019 1:31 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Jussie Smollett needs to know he still has throngs of backers -- who will remain by his side -- IF he would just admit the crimes he's committed ... at least according to his friend, Bishop O.C. Allen.

We got the influential Bishop -- who once served on President Obama's Advisory Council -- out in Atlanta and wanted to see if he had a message for the embattled "Empire" star. 

Allen told us there is unwavering support for Smollett if he changes his tune. The Bishop says it's critical Jussie admit any wrongdoing. 

Jussie and the Bishop are tight. They joined Lee Daniels and Sen. Cory Booker for a 2016 Hillary Clinton fundraiser, which was held at Bishop Allen's ATL home. 

You know much of the "Empire" cast and crew wanted Smollett booted off the set -- and they got their wish Friday morning.

Still, Allen thinks all hope is not lost for Smollett as he faces the felony charge for filing a false police report.

Jussie Smollett Removed from Final Episodes ... Cast Wanted Him Gone

2/22/2019 7:25 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

7:25 AM PT-- Fox just announced it's scratching Smollett from the end of the current season. The statement says, "The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out."

The statement continues, "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

Fox says Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer all signed off on the decision to remove Jussie.

It's clear they heard the complaints of Smollett's cast members.

Jussie Smollett betrayed the trust of his "Empire" coworkers and damaged the show's image, and now several cast members want him written off immediately ... according to our sources.

We're told many of the "Empire" actors are "f**king furious" and feel if FOX honchos don't fire Jussie, he should quit on his own ... because he doesn't deserve a spot on the hit show.

The feelings of animosity stem from the fact everyone on set had Jussie's back after the "attack," but in light of the new evidence police have laid out ... many of them feel hurt and embarrassed.

We're told almost everyone on set is worried about how Smollett's damaged the show's reputation ... and could continue to do so if he remains part of the cast.

Now, our sources say there are still some cast and crew members who believe Jussie's telling the truth because they can't fathom him pulling off a hoax like this. We're told arguments have erupted over how best to handle the situation.

It seems Smollett is well aware of the dissension on set. TMZ broke the story ... Jussie showed up on set Thursday after the madness outside the court and apologized to everyone, but insisted he's innocent.

We're told he's changed his number because certain pissed off cast members were blowing up his phone. He's only given his new number to the people still in his corner.

Jussie was arrested Thursday and is facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He was released from custody after posting a $10k bond and has been ordered to have no contact with the Osundairo brothers.  

Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson says Jussie's dissatisfaction with his "Empire" salary motivated the ruse and claims Smollett was also responsible for the hate letter sent to Fox Studios.

Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT

Jussie Smollett Feds Dispute Police Superintendent ... Not Certain Jussie Wrote Letter

2/22/2019 12:50 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says it's a lock -- Jussie Smollett sent that letter 8 days before the "attack" -- but various law enforcement sources tell TMZ the chief overstated things.

Federal law enforcement sources tell us they're still investigating the letter and have drawn no conclusions. Both federal and state law enforcement sources say the operating theory was that the 2 brothers -- Abel and Ola Osundairo -- may have mailed the letter because, when cops raided their apartment and seized magazines, there were pages missing.

We're told authorities are trying to determine if the pages have the lettering found in the letter. They're also checking the postage stamp against the stamps found in the brothers' apartment. As we reported, the brothers deny sending the letter

Obviously, if the brothers sent the letter, it comes back to Jussie -- because they would have done it at his behest -- but as one federal law enforcement source tells TMZ, "I think he [Johnson] went too far. We're not there yet."

The FBI tells TMZ they are assisting Chicago PD in determining who sent the letter. We asked repeatedly if they are conducting an independent mail fraud investigation, but they will neither confirm nor deny. 

Dr. Drew Jussie Smollett's Got a Character Issue ... Not a Mental Health Issue

2/22/2019 12:40 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dr. Drew -- like the rest of the world -- is having trouble processing why Jussie Smollett would stage an "attack" ... but one thing's clear to the doc ... it's more about character than mental health. 

The doc was out and about Thursday in NYC and raised the issue of Jussie going to a rehab facility, in light of the actor confessing in court documents he has a drug problem. Fact is ... criminal defense lawyers often put their clients in rehab to mitigate the possibility of a harsh sentence in the event they're convicted. It wouldn't be surprising if Jussie enters such a facility sooner rather than later.  

Drew also bristles at the notion Jussie's done in the Hollywood community. Not only does he see a future for the actor ... he thinks he deserves a future, because everyone screws up.

Jussie Smollett 'I Swear to God, I Did Not Do This' ... Pleads to 'Empire' Cast

2/21/2019 4:52 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Jussie Smollett is begging his "Empire" family to believe he's innocent and continue supporting him -- even as the drama of his arrest postponed a scene Thursday in Chicago.

Sources on the "Empire" set tell us the cast and crew were waiting at least 30 minutes for Jussie to begin the scheduled scene. When he eventually showed his face he was very emotional, and surrounded by his family.

We're told he addressed everyone on set, saying ..."I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls. I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”

After that, he left the set. We're told it was obvious Jussie had been crying a lot, so producers said he would have to come back later. He did, and we're told he is currently shooting the scene. 

As we reported, Smollett bolted from the mob scene outside court, and headed straight to Chicago's Cinespace Studio ... after his bail was set at $100k. News choppers and trucks followed him most of the way as he crossed town.

Jussie Smollett Released from Custody ... Bail Set at $100k

2/21/2019 1:47 PM PST

2:10 PM PT -- Jussie told police, during his arrest, he has a drug problem ... one for which he's never been treated. That could become relevant later in the case because, as we reported, cops say Jussie bought ecstasy from Abel. IF he were convicted, a drug issue could be a mitigating factor that gets his sentenced reduced.

According to docs, Smollett also answered "no" to alcohol or mental health problems.

One of the conditions of his bail calls for him to have no contact with Ola and Abel Osundairo or their family members.

1:45 PM PT -- Jussie has just been released from custody into a mob of reporters, security and police officers. He got in a black SUV and quickly left the courthouse.

12:04 PM PT -- Jussie's bail was just set by a judge at $100k. He has to surrender his passport as part of his bail conditions and post 10% of his total bail to be released from custody. He's also subject to pre-trial monitoring.

8:12 AM PT -- Trump has now weighed in on the situation, calling Jussie's allegations "racist and dangerous."

7:10 AM PT -- The Police Superintendent just expressed his outrage at Jussie Smollett for allegedly betraying the African American and LGBT communities to further his career in a "publicity stunt." The superintendent said Smollett created the ruse because "he was dissatisfied with his salary" on "Empire."

The Superintendent also said the wounds on Smollett were most likely "self-inflicted."

The Superintendent added that Jussie sent a "false letter" -- presumably the letter that was sent to Fox Studios 8 days before the incident.

4:15 AM PT -- Jussie has turned himself in and is under arrest. He's been booked and will be taken in custody to the courthouse where he will be going to bond court at 1:30 PM CT. He will either post bond or be released on his own recognizance. He will not enter a plea.

Jussie Smollett has just been charged for a felony ... disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and the stakes are 3 years in prison.

We're told Ola and Abel Osundairo -- the 2 brothers -- told Grand Jurors they staged the so-called "attack" at Jussie's behest and even got paid for it. The brothers were caught on camera buying a bunch of supplies before the incident ... including ski masks, gloves, bandanas, sunglasses and red hats.

Although police officially called Jussie a "victim" until recently, multiple law enforcement sources have told us the police had real doubts about Jussie's story early on. They found it weird he kept the rope around his neck for 42 minutes after the "attack," and were suspicious when he took them to the scene and immediately pointed to a camera which he said captured the incident. Turns out, the camera was pointed in the wrong direction.

Abel and Ola told police they drove with Jussie in the days prior to the incident scouting a location and even rehearsed the "attack."  

Law enforcement believes Jussie timed the "attack" for January 29 because he knew the Osundairo brothers were leaving for Nigeria that day.

As for the hate mail sent to Jussie at Fox Studios in Chicago ... our sources say the F.B.I. questioned Ola and Abel and are checking to see if the postal stamp on the letter matches stamps police seized at the brothers' home ... or if the ripped out magazine pages found at their pad match the cut-out letters used in the racist and homophobic letter.

We know the brothers told police they had nothing to do with the letter, and only saw it in a photo on Jussie's phone. 

6:18 PM PT -- Jussie's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released the following statement ... "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked." 

"Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

Originally Published -- 2/20/2018 5:03 PM PST

Jussie Smollett Cops Say 'Attack' Plans Started with Text ... 'Might Need Your Help on the Low'

2/21/2019 1:00 PM PST
Breaking News

Jussie Smollett sent a text to the Osundairo brothers 4 days before the allegedly staged attack went down ... then met with them to go over details, including dousing the actor in gasoline.

Prosecutors detailed the evidence they've gathered against Jussie in docs filed for his bond hearing -- and it's jaw-dropping. In the docs, prosecutors say Smollett received the now-infamous hate mail -- with homophobic and racial epithets -- on January 22 at the Chicago studio where "Empire" is shot.

The letter contained an "unknown white powdery substance." It would appear that was intended to make people think it was Anthrax or some other dangerous chemical ... but prosecutors say it turned out to be crushed Ibuprofen.

Then on January 25, Jussie fires off the text to Abel Osundairo, saying ... "Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?" Cops say Abel and Jussie had been friends since the fall of 2017, and that Jussie sometimes scored ecstasy from him.

Later on the 25th, they did meet face to face outside Abel's Chicago apartment and talked in Jussie's car about staging the attack. Cops say this is when Ola was brought onboard. The original plan, according to cops, was for Ola to place a rope around Jussie's neck, pour gasoline on him and yell, "This is MAGA country." At that point, they say Jussie gave them a $100 bill to go purchase necessary items for the "attack."

On January 27, they meet again and drive around Chicago to scout locations. Cops say Smollett told them to leave their cell phones and pointed out the surveillance cam near Jussie's residence that he believed would record the incident. 

They made a late change from gasoline to bleach -- although cops don't say why -- and Smollett also handed them the $3,500 check payable to Abel and backdated to Jan. 23. As we've reported, Jussie noted in the memo line that the check was for training.

On January 28, the brothers bought the materials and Abel deposited the check.

Now to the "attack" ... at 12:49 AM, on January 29, cops say there was a 3-minute call between Smollett and Abel, and Jussie told him the "attack" would go down at exactly 2 AM.

Interestingly, police are now revealing they do have surveillance video of the brothers waiting on a bench near the predetermined staging location around 2 AM. Cops say Jussie was running late. 

As you know, the Osundairos boarded a flight for Nigeria later on the 29th -- but police say Jussie spoke to Abel on Jan. 30. They say Jussie called him for 8 minutes and 48 seconds, while Abel was in Turkey. 

And, there's this ... you'll recall Smollett's camp told TMZ the day of the attack, he believed his attackers were white. Cops say he also told them, "he could see that the area around this person's eyes was white-skinned."

Of course, we now know nothing could be further from the truth.

Lil Pump Body Cam Vid Shows ... Shouting Match w/ Cops Before Arrest

2/21/2019 7:03 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Lil Pump had an intense showdown with Miami cops -- shouting back and forth -- moments before they arrested him for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

TMZ's obtained police body cam footage from the rapper's December arrest before his flight outta Miami. You can see an incredibly frustrated Pump repeatedly tell cops a bag that smelled of weed, according to TSA, was definitely NOT his.

In the video, you can also see Pump's manager mount the same defense ... but clearly, it fell on deaf ears because cops were adamant the bag belonged to Pump. Check out the video ... Pump gets visibly angry and that triggers a cop to shout right back at him.

TMZ broke the story ... the rapper was hauled off his flight from Miami to L.A. after he was accused of carrying drugs in the bag that smelled like weed. Our law enforcement sources eventually confirmed Pump's version of events -- he was NOT carrying any drugs.

Pump's manager was also arrested for disorderly conduct. Both men entered not guilty pleas. 

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