Singer R. Kelly Indicted, Arrested
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CHICAGO (AP) _ R&B star R. Kelly was arrested Wednesday in Florida after Chicago authorities filed child pornography charges alleging that he appears on a videotape having sex with an underage girl.
``I can confirm that he was arrested in Florida,″ Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer said.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office in Florida’s Polk County would only say that Kelly had been arrested there.
Kelly was indicted in Chicago on 21 counts of child pornography earlier in the day after officials said their investigation of a videotape showed the Grammy winner having sex with an underage girl.
The videotape purporting to show Kelly and an underage girl has been sold on the streets in major cities, and has been a topic among R&B fans and musicians.
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.
``It’s unfortunate to see Mr. Kelly’s talents go to waste, but it becomes a tragedy when behavior damages a community,″ Hillard said.
If convicted, Kelly faces a prison term of up to 15 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.
Kelly’s lawyer, Ed Genson, said: ``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.″
Kelly has denied that he is the man shown in the video.
Hillard said police and the FBI have worked with witnesses to identify those on the tape.
Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine said the video was made in November 1997 or later and that the girl in the video was born in September 1984.
``We brought the charges we thought appropriate at this stage,″ Devine said when asked why underage sex charges were not filed against Kelly.
The singer 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 is being circulated on the Internet, and police warned that anyone who has it could be charged with possession of child pornography.
Kelly has said he has not seen the video.
``Even though I don’t believe any of these charges are warranted, I’m grateful that I will have a chance to establish the truth about me in a court of law,″ Kelly said in a statement released Wednesday.
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 and that he 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 his career.
Some in Chicago have called for a boycott against his music, but radio station WGCI-FM officials say they will not stop playing Kelly’s music.
``He’s innocent until proven guilty,″ station manager Marv Dyson said.
Shawn Spence, 26, of Chicago said she is a fan and won’t stop buying Kelly’s music but that others will.
``It’s going to hurt him, no doubt,″ she said. ``Regardless of what happened, I’m not going to stop.″
Kelly’s joint project with rapper Jay-Z, ``The Best of Both Worlds,″ released after the scandal broke, was a commercial disappointment and Jay-Z has refused to appear with Kelly since word of the investigation surfaced.
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.
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.
Valerie Monroe, 38, drove 10 miles with her 11-year-old daughter, Megan, and a friend to see Kelly’s house in suburban Olympia Fields, which had become something of a tourist attraction by late afternoon.
``I think he’s a lost soul, but there’s hope,″ Monroe said. ``I’ll pray for him.″
Associated Press writer Andrew Buchanan contributed to this report.