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 child pornography.
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 a feature interview with R. Kelly discussing the accusations against him, see "R. Kelly: In His Own Words."
For full coverage of the R. Kelly sex tape scandal, see The R. Kelly Reports.
[This story was updated at 7:57 p.m. EST on 06.05.02.]