R&B star R. Kelly, jailed overnight on child pornography charges, appeared in a Barstow, Fla., court today (June 6), where a judge set bail at $750,000 and forbade him to have contact with minors

R&B star R. Kelly, jailed overnight on child pornography charges, appeared in a Barstow, Fla., court today (June 6), where a judge set bail at $750,000 and forbade him to have contact with minors not related to him. The charges stem from a videotape purporting to show a sexual tryst between Kelly and an underage girl, the latest legal trouble for the artist already dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct.

Kelly was charged with 21 counts of child pornography yesterday and later arrested near a house he rents in Davenport, about 35 miles southwest of Orlando. It was not clear when Kelly would be returned to Chicago to face the charges.

Today, the singer appeared in court in an orange Polk County Jail uniform, his hands bound with plastic restraints. He only spoke when Judge Karla Wright asked him if he understood the condition of his release. "Yes, ma'am," said Kelly.

After posting bail, Kelly planned to return to Chicago "as soon as he gets his composure, as soon as he sees his wife and kisses his babies, as soon as he puts on a new set of clothes and is able to get a few hours' sleep," said his attorney, Ed Genson.

Kelly, 35, has denied he is the man in the video, which has been sold on street corners in major cities and over the Internet and become a topic among music fans. "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," he said in a statement. He said he had faith in the criminal justice system and expressed confidence that when all the facts come out, "people will see that I'm no criminal."

Chicago Police and Cook County (Ill.) prosecutors said a thorough investigation, including interviews of some 50 witnesses, determined Kelly and an underage girl were the people on the tape. FBI forensics experts determined the tape was authentic, they said.

"It's unfortunate to see Mr. Kelly's talents go to waste, but it becomes a tragedy when behavior damages a community," Police Superintendent Terry Hillard said. "The fact that he is a celebrity is of no importance to us."

The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. "The claims in this case are unfounded," Genson said after the hearing. "The charge is that there's a young lady under the age of 18 on that tape and there isn't."

Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine said the video was made in November 1997 or later and that the girl 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. He said the investigation was continuing.

Police warned that anyone who has the tape could be charged with possession of child pornography.


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