R&B star Robert “R.” Kelly was arrested Wednesday afternoon at his Florida
residence after being indicted earlier in the day on 21 felony counts of
Kelly faces up to 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted and
would have to register as a sex offender.
“Even though I do not believe any of the 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 Wednesday (June 5). “I have complete faith
in our system of justice, and I am confident that when all the facts come
out people will see that I’m no criminal.”
A warrant was issued for Kelly’s arrest on Wednesday, and the singer —
who was at a residence he owns in central Florida — planned to return
to Chicago and turn himself in to authorities on Thursday. However, officers
from Florida’s Polk County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Kelly’s door on
Wednesday afternoon armed with a fugitive warrant and apprehended the
singer. A spokesperson for Kelly told MTV News that the singer’s lawyers are
outraged Kelly wasn’t allowed to return to Chicago to surrender as planned.
The singer is expected to post $750,000 bail on Thursday.
In February a videotape of Kelly allegedly having sex with a minor was given
to the Chicago Sun-Times, which handed the tape over to the sex
crimes unit of the Chicago Police Department.
At a press conference Wednesday, Terry Hilliard, superintendent of the
police department, and Richard Devine, the Cook County state attorney,
outlined the Kelly investigation and charges.
They said that after interviewing several people who identified Kelly and
the girl on the tape and having the FBI verify the tape’s authenticity, they
levied the charges. The singer faces seven counts of directing the
videotaping of child pornography, seven counts of producing the video and
seven counts of enticing an underage girl into illicit acts.
Devine said Kelly knew or should have known the girl was born in September
1984 and noted the sex acts on the tape occurred sometime between November
1997 and February of this year at a home that Kelly once owned in Chicago.
The state attorney said he hopes the indictment of the singing star would
send a message to sexual predators.
“It becomes a tragedy when behavior damages a community,” Hilliard said.
“Make no mistake, these are very harmful crimes. The nature of these
indictments returned today should also make parents more vigilant. These
acts are serious crimes that involve harmful acts which damage and degrade
our children and are diminishing the integrity of our entire community.”
The tape in question — which has been bootlegged and sold across the
country everywhere from the street corner and the Internet to such record
stores as HMV — features a man who resembles Kelly engaging in sexual
acts with four different females in four different locations. One of the
women is the minor in question.
“I should also point out anyone that is selling this tape, as well as anyone
who has purchased it, is now in possession of child pornography,” Hilliard
added. “It would be my advice to you to dispose of these tapes.”
One of the females on the tape has come forward. On May 24, a 33-year-old
dancer named Motina “Tina” Woods filed a lawsuit with the Cook County
Circuit Court in Chicago for invasion of privacy. She alleges that Kelly
secretly taped them having sex and is asking for $50,000 in damages (see
“R. Kelly Sued By Woman Claiming To Be Sex
Tape Subject” ).
While many of his fans and peers have seen the sex tape for which Kelly is
being charged, the singer himself says he has not viewed it and has
proclaimed his innocence.
“There’s things that people have done in their lives that they regret, and
I’m no different,” he told MTV News last month. “I’m a human being, and I
want people to know that I’m no angel here, but I’m no monster either. I’m
no guy that would do this.”
For full coverage of the R. Kelly sex tape scandal,
see The R. Kelly
[This story was updated at 7:57 p.m. EST on 06.05.02.]