Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) is walking back comments he made this week suggesting R&B singer R. Kelly could be "welcomed back" by the city of Chicago following his conviction in a wide-ranging sex trafficking case.
"As an artist, one who ... is gifted, I think he'll be welcomed back into Chicago as a person who can be redeemed," Davis said Monday on a video obtained and published Tuesday by TMZ. "You know I'm a big believer in what is called second chances ... so it all will really depend upon him."
Kelly was convicted Monday on all charges against him in a sex trafficking trial that lasted a month and during which several victims detailed abuse they suffered at his hands. The popular 1990s singer and songwriter faces decades in prison when he is sentenced.
Davis, who represents a large swath of Kelly's hometown of Chicago in the lower chamber, said on the video that Kelly should attempt to find "peace with his maker, peace with himself and reconcile with the universe for the acts that he may have committed."
Kina Collins, a Democratic primary challenger to Davis, who has held his seat since 1996, blasted the congressman for the remarks.
"Congressman Davis’ statement today was thoughtless, distasteful, and incredibly disappointing for a man charged with representing thousands of Black women and girls in our district," Collins said in a statement. "I’m shocked that my Congressman would choose today of all days to focus on second chances for a serial abuser rather than uplifting survivors. Second chances for those reentering communities from prison are critical. But by holding R. Kelly — a man who leveraged his wealth and power to evade justice and harm Black girls — as an example of what second chances look like, Davis is undermining the broader fight for justice."
When contacted by The Hill on Tuesday, Davis attempted to clarify his comments on how Kelly would be viewed by the city of Chicago following his conviction.
"Kelly has been accused of criminal acts, gone through a court of law, been convicted, and must serve whatever time the court decides," Davis said in a statement. "Yes, he has lived in Chicago, I am a law and order policymaker; therefore, I am focused on trying to arrest the coronavirus, raising the debt limit, passing a budget, maintaining and rebuilding our infrastructure, feeding the hungry, meeting the health needs, taking care of children, and improving the quality of life for all. Women and children must be respected and protected at all times and at all costs."