That paperwork shows that Kelly was ordered in 2009 to pay more than $20,000 a month in child support. As of February, he owed nearly $200,000, including interest and unpaid educational and health expenses, the filing said. The couple had three children before splitting up.
When he missed the March 6 deadline to come up with $161,663 in overdue payments, Kelly was handcuffed and taken into custody -- an event that reporters could only peer at through the courtroom's glass doors.
The 52-year-old singer spent three nights in Cook County Jail before an anonymous donor posted the money.
Kelly's divorce case dates to 2006, but even the judge's order sealing the case is not available for public view. That means there's no way to know what reason the judge gave, if any, for taking such a drastic action. Or to even know the identity of the judge.
No record of the case even comes up if anyone checks in the circuit court clerk's online database.
Vogus noted that judges can safeguard truly sensitive information by sealing those portions of a case without closing off the entire file to the public. And any sealing order should be made public to explain the judge's rationale, she said.
"When the whole case is under seal, including the motions to seal and the court's order ... that's very troubling," Vogus said.
Eric France, a manager for Kelly's ex-wife, Andrea, who is a dancer and choreographer, said the court fight over child support has been shrouded in secrecy because years ago R. Kelly sought to have the divorce case sealed from public view.
"There's no reason why he shouldn't be subject to public scrutiny just like anyone else," France told the Tribune. "It's of no benefit to (Andrea Kelly) not letting people know what's going on. She feels that he ought to be treated like any other mother or father going through that situation. He's not above the law."
France declined to make Andrea Kelly available for an interview, citing recent instructions from a judge to limit public comment on the proceedings. And her attorney declined to comment.