R Kelly docked pay for employee who booked male tour guide at Disney

R Kelly fined workers for eating his donuts and docked another a week’s pay for booking a male tour guide for singer and his girlfriends at Disney World, former employee testifies

  • Accused sexual abuser R. Kelly once gave a studio manager a check for $0 after he booked a male tour guide for the disgraced R&B star at Disney World 
  • Tom Arnold said he eventually quit his job as the singer’s studio manager because of Kelly’s system for docking employee pay over similar slights
  • Kelly is accused of being the leader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys 
  • Arnold’s work with Kelly dates back to 1998, when he worked at one of Kelly’s Chicago studios 
  • The studio manager testified to Kelly having a remarkably strict system of fining employees for rule-breaking, including a fine for eating the singer’s donuts

Accused sexual abuser R. Kelly was a bad boss who didn’t pay one of his workers after he booked a male tour guide for the disgraced R&B star at Disney World, the stiffed employee testified Thursday.

Tom Arnold, who worked at one of Kelly’s Chicago studios, said he eventually quit his job as studio manager because of the singer’s system for docking employee pay over such slights.. 

Kelly is accused of being the leader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys. 

The studio manager testified that Kelly had a strict system of fining employees for rule-breaking, with several workers losing out on money because someone ate the singer’s donuts.

Tom Arnold, seen testifying in a court sketch, said he eventually quit his job as the singer’s studio manager because of R. Kelly’s system for docking employee pay

Arnold’s work with Kelly dates back to 1998, when he worked at one of Kelly’s Chicago studios

Arnold, a Kelly employee since 1988, worked at the notorious ‘Chocolate Factory since 2004 but the last straw came during what was a ‘very last-minute’ trip to Disney World in 2011. 

He was told to book a tour guide for Kelly and some female guests. There was no one available and they had to book a male tour guide. 

This went against Kelly’s rules, Arnold said, that prevented his girlfriends from being around other men – to the point where they couldn’t look at them in the eye if they were in the same area.   

For Arnold, the last straw came during what was a ‘very last minute’ trip to Disney World in 2011. He was told to book a tour guide for Kelly and some female guests. There was no one available and they had to book a male tour guide

‘It needed to be a woman,’ Arnold said on the stand in Brooklyn Federal Court. 

When Kelly and his girlfriends arrived at Disney World, the singer got off the tour bus, saw the tour guide and immediately canceled the trip. He then fined Arnold $1,500, his entire paycheck for the week. 

This was it for Arnold, who was also fined for forgetting to bring the singer’s lunch, sleeping through a phone call and buying a cheap sweatband for a female guest without his permission, Arnold testified. He quit working for Kelly soon after. 

‘My wife wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy. Rob wasn’t happy,’ he said. 

Kelly is accused of being the leader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys

Arnold also laid out Kelly’s rules regarding female guests, telling the court that employees were not allowed to look at the women and girls while at his home. This went so far as when Arnold drove female guests, he was instructed to flip up the rearview mirror to avoid eye contact. 

Everyone who worked for Kelly knew that rule, Arnold said.

Arnold also said that members of the singer’s team would be equipped at concerts, malls and afterparties with pieces of paper with the singer’s number so they could give them out to girls or women at a moment’s notice.

‘It would be asked of me to do so fairly regularly,’ he said.       

Kelly, known for the Grammy-winning song ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’ has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran a decades-long racketeering scheme in which he abused six women and girls, including Jane and the late singer Aaliyah.

He’s vehemently denied the charges, claiming that the women were groupies who wanted to take advantage of his fame and fortune.

The federal trial is expected to last several weeks and, if convicted, Kelly could face life in prison. He also faces sex-related criminal charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

Additionally, Kelly is charged in a bribery scheme after he paid a $500 bribe in 1994 in order to get breakout singer Aaliyah, who was 15, a fake ID so he could marry her. Kelly allegedly feared that he had gotten the teen pregnant.

Timeline of R. Kelly’s downfall from R&B superstar to ‘sexual predator’ 

August 1994: At age 27, R. Kelly marries 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah D. Haughton. The couple weds in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage is annulled months later because of Aaliyah’s age. Aaliyah dies in a plane crash seven years later at age 22.

February 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint against Kelly alleging intentional sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor. The lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000 the following January.

August 2001: Tracy Sampson files a lawsuit against Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in ‘a position of authority’ over her. The case was reportedly settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it received a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a minor. The paper reported Chicago police began investigating allegations about Kelly and the same girl three years earlier. At the time, the girl and her parents denies she was having sex with Kelly.

June 2002: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on child pornography charges stemming from the sex tape. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.

January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Florida hotel on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Charges are later dropped after the judge ruled police didn´t have a warrant to search Kelly’s house.

September 2005: Kelly’s wife Andrea Kelly asks for an order of protection from her husband, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple confirm they have divorced in 2009.

February 2006: Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, says his brother offered him $50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person on the sex video.

May 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial begins. He is acquitted on all counts the next month after less than a full day of deliberations.

July 2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and was keeping them in an abusive ‘cult.’ One woman says she was with Kelly willingly. Following the BuzzFeed report, activists launched the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.

April 2018: The Time’s Up campaign, devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, joins the #MuteRKelly social media campaign and pushes for further investigation into Kelly’s behavior, which had come under closer scrutiny over the previous year as women came forward accusing him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. Kelly´s camp responds: ‘We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.’

May 2018: Spotify cuts R. Kelly’s music from its playlists, citing its policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Shortly after, Apple and Pandora also stop promoting his music. Kelly’s team pushes back, noting other artists on Spotify had been accused or convicted of crimes.

The same month Faith Rodgers, 20, files a lawsuit accusing R. Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship.

January 2019: Lifetime airs the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight. The series followed the BBC’s ‘R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,’ released the previous year, that alleged the singer was holding women against their will.

Lady Gaga apologizes for her 2013 duet with Kelly, saying she intended to remove the song, ‘Do What U Want (With My Body),’ from streaming services.

Faith Rogers says Kelly had written a letter the previous October to one of her lawyers, threatening to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop her May 2018 lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.

Multiple media outlets reports Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, part ways. Lady Gaga and Celine Dion remove their duets with Kelly from streaming services, and French rock band Phoenix apologizes for collaborating with Kelly in 2013. Kelly continues to deny all allegations of sexual misconduct.

February 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti says he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, and that it is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial.

Kelly is arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Kelly’s attorney enters not guilty pleas on the singer’s behalf. Hours later, Kelly posts bail and is released from jail in Chicago.

March 2019: CBS airs interview in which Kelly vehemently denied the sexual abuse charges against him. Later, authorities in Cook County take Kelly into custody after he tells a judge he couldn´t pay $161,000 in back child support he owed his children’s mother.

May 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new sex-related counts in Chicago. They involve one of the women who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was underage.

July 2019: Kelly is indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges including child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child. He is again arrested in Chicago.

A federal judge orders Kelly held in jail without bond after a prosecutor warned he would pose an extreme danger to young girls if set free.

August 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to federal charges accusing him of sexually abusing women and girls who attended his concerts, as his lawyers continue to label the alleged victims disgruntled ‘groupies.’

Kelly is charged in Minnesota with prostitution and solicitation related to an allegation that he invited a 17-year-old girl to his hotel room in 2001 and paid her $200 to dance naked with him.

October 2019: Kelly is denied bail in his New York City sex abuse case after a judge agreed with prosecutors that freeing him from jail would create a risk of him fleeing or tampering with witnesses.

December 2019: Kelly is charged by federal prosecutors with paying a bribe in exchange for a ‘fraudulent identification document’ for an unidentified female a day before he married R&B singer Aaliyah. He later pleads not guilty.

March 2020: Kelly pleads not guilty in Chicago to an updated federal indictment that included child pornography charges and allegations involving a new accuser, while prosecutors say more charges alleging yet another victim were upcoming.

August 2020: Federal prosecutors announce charges against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.

Kelly’s manager is arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theater two years ago, forcing an evacuation and the cancellation of the screening of a documentary addressing allegations that the singer had sexually abused women and girls.

July 2021: Federal prosecutors in Kelly´s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an underage boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming trial to hear those claims.

August 2021: Kelly’s long-anticipated federal trial begins in New York with opening statements on August 18.

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