R. Kelly Indicted for Child Porn
Jun. 05, 2002
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CHICAGO (AP) _ R&B star R. Kelly was indicted Wednesday on child pornography charges stemming from a videotape that officials say shows the Grammy winner having sex with an underage girl, Chicago police and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said.
A grand jury charged Kelly, whose first name is Robert, with 21 counts of child pornography, said Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine.
Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard said FBI forensics experts determined the tape was authentic, and that other experts had determined the people on the tape were Kelly and an underage girl.
``Criminal conduct no matter who is involved cannot and will not be tolerated in the city of Chicago,'' Hillard said.
The felony charge carries a prison term of up to 15 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.
Police said a warrant had been issued for Kelly's arrest and they were looking for him.
Kelly's lawyer said he would disprove the charge.
``The charge is that there's a young lady under the age of 18 on that tape and there isn't. That's simply the stance that I'm taking. We're going to court and we'll disprove that she was underage,'' said Kelly's attorney Ed Genson. He said he had not seen the indictment.
Genson said the girl's family members also have denied that she is featured on the video. He would not comment on the age of the girl or whether Kelly was the man on the tape. Previously Kelly has denied that he is the man shown in the video.
The singer, who has worked with Michael and Janet Jackson and Celine Dion as well as rap stars, is known for hits ranging from the Grammy-winning, gospellike ``I Believe I Can Fly'' to sexually charged material such as ``Bump 'n' Grind,'' ``Feelin' On Yo Booty'' and ``Your Body's Callin'.''
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in February that it had received the tape anonymously and passed it along to Chicago police, who began investigating Kelly.
The tape, which allegedly shows Kelly having sex with a minor and other sexual encounters with women, is being circulated across the country and on the Internet.
Kelly has said he has not seen the video.
``I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see,'' Kelly said last month on ``BET Tonight with Ed Gordon.''
``I've done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I'm not a criminal, I'm not a monster.''
Kelly also is the focus of at least four lawsuits, three of which accuse him of having sex with an underage girl. He has acknowledged settling two of the lawsuits regarding underage sex, but his lawyers have said they will fight the third.
That suit was filed April 29 by a woman who said Kelly had sex with her when she was a minor and forced her to have an abortion.
Kelly has said the first two lawsuits charging underage sex had no merit. He said while he knew the women, he had no personal or professional relationships with them and only settled them on the advice of lawyers.
In the fourth lawsuit, Montina ``Tina'' Woods, a 33-year-old dancer, accuses Kelly of secretly taping their sexual encounter at his recording studio, Chicago Trax.
Kelly rose from childhood poverty on Chicago's South Side. He began singing for change at the city's L stops and went on to sell more than 23 million albums and own a mansion in a Chicago suburb.
The scandal apparently has begun to hurt Kelly's career.
Some in Chicago have called for a boycott against his music, but Chicago music station WGCI-FM officials say they will not stop playing Kelly's music.
``He's innocent until proven guilty,'' station manager Marv Dyson said. ``If we stopped playing his music, we would be saying we believe him to be guilty of something and we're punishing for that by taking him off of the air and we just don't have that right.''
Kelly's his joint project with rapper Jay-Z, ``The Best of Both Worlds,'' released after the scandal broke, was a commercial disappointment.
Jay-Z has refused to appear with Kelly since word of the investigation surfaced.
Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer said the allegations may not signal an end to the R&B artist's career.
``What really matters is not whether they are charged with something, but how it's disposed of in the end,'' Mayer said. ``I've had lots of experience with people who've been charged of worse things, but when it turns out they are not guilty, they can come back.''
Kelly is married to a former dancer from his touring troupe. They have a newborn son and two young daughters.
He was briefly married to the late singer Aaliyah, who lied about her age in 1994 to get a marriage license. She was 15 at the time.
Associated Press writer Andrew Buchanan contributed to this report.