Mr. Kelly’s arrest makes for the second case in a week in which the federal authorities have pursued high-profile figures for charges related to sexual abuse involving minors. Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier, who for years has faced allegations involving underage girls, was arrested on Saturday and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
The longstanding accusations against Mr. Kelly received renewed attention in recent months. A six-part documentary profiling some of his accusers aired in January, and Mr. Kelly’s remarkable interview with Gayle King in March gripped the nation’s attention.
Suspicion has loomed over Mr. Kelly since his brief marriage, in 1994, to the singer Aaliyah when she was 15. He was tried in 2008 on child pornography charges stemming from a 27-minute tape in which prosecutors said he had sex with and urinated on a teenage girl. He was acquitted on all counts after the girl declined to testify against him.
Yet, even as the allegations trailed him, his career continued to flourish. He performed at the World Cup in the summer of 2010 and released an album in December of that year called “Love Letter.”
In 2017, Jim DeRogatis, who in 2000 was the first journalist to document claims against Mr. Kelly, wrote an article published by Buzzfeed in which women in Mr. Kelly’s social circle depicted an abusive cultlike atmosphere.
“Surviving R. Kelly,” the six-part documentary that was broadcast by Lifetime, detailed alarming accusations about his treatment of women.
The documentary prompted investigations by Atlanta, Chicago and federal law enforcement officials. In Illinois, the Cook County state’s attorney, Kim Foxx, asked any victims to come forward. Some did, leading to his arrest on state charges in February.
His explosive interview with Ms. King, which aired on her program “CBS This Morning,” gave the case renewed national attention. Mr. Kelly sought to portray himself as a victim, targeted by a smear campaign. He forcefully denied the claims against him, at one point staring directly into the camera, tears in his eyes, and said, “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me!”
Jacey Fortin, William K. Rashbaum and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.