CHICAGO — Building inspectors found multiple possible violations in R. Kelly's warehouse studio on the Near West Side Wednesday, according to officials, as the singer faces increased scrutiny over sexual abuse allegations.
Last week, an anonymous call to 311 claimed people were living in the warehouse on the 200 block of North Justine Street, and a judge granted the City’s emergency motion to enter the building. Kelly is the only tenant in the warehouse, which is zoned for commercial use only.
Just after noon Wednesday, inspectors went in the back door of the building. According to the Department of Buildings, the team of plumbing, carpentry, electrical and fire prevention inspectors found multiple violations.
"City inspectors observed building code violations including evidence of residential use which is non-compliant with the zoning code and work performed without approved plans or permits," the Department of Buildings said in a statement.
Kelly has been ordered to pay $173,000 in court fees and back rent for the warehouse studio by Monday, or he'll be evicted. Currently on sale for nearly $4 million, an estate listing says the warehouse contains a full recording studio, lounge and full kitchen.
Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, but came under scrutiny again after the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” detailed allegations of sexual abuse, mostly involving underage girls. Kelly denies the charges.
"They didn't find any evidence of criminal activity that hostages or sex slaves were kept there or any evidence that confirms the ridiculous allegations that seem to continue to be regurgitated," R. Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg said.
After the series premiered, Kelly's studio has become the center of scrutiny and protest. On Wednesday, supporters and protesters were on the scene. A man who identified himself as Kelly's stepbrother, but wouldn’t give his own name, came to his defense.
"He’s not a monster he’s a human being just like us, not a monster at all," he said.
Jim Lewis said he works nearby and has, "seen younger girls in front of the building, back of the building."
"After his last incident about a year ago he did a little spring cleaning; there were mattresses in the alley, boxes of women’s shoes," Lewis said.
The chorus of voices against the singer is growing. In New York, protesters delivered a petition with more than 100,000 signatures demanding Record label RCA drop him.
"If this is an individual who has taken advantage of women then justice must be served," Marie Roberts said.
City inspectors will now process and itemize the building code violations observed during the inspection, according to the City, and will incorporate the violations into an amended complaint for a subsequent court hearing.