R&B star R. Kelly was indicted today (June 5) on child pornography charges stemming from a videotape that officials say shows the artist having sex with an underage girl, a source in the Cook Coun
R&B star R. Kelly was indicted today (June 5) on child pornography charges stemming from a videotape that officials say shows the artist having sex with an underage girl, a source in the Cook County (Ill.) State's Attorney's Office said. A grand jury charged Kelly, whose first name is Robert, with 21 counts of child pornography, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The felony charge carries a prison term of up to 15 years, and a fine of up to $100,000. The source said a warrant had been issued for Kelly's arrest. Lawyers for the 33-year-old Chicago native did not immediately return calls. Kelly has denied that he is the man on the tape.
"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. "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."
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 "I Believe I Can Fly" to sexually charged material such as "Bump'n'Grind," a No. 1 hit on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in 1994, its No. 2 follow-up "Your Body's Callin'," and last year's No. 9 charting track, "Feelin' on Yo Booty."
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 viewed the videotape. "I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see," he said in an interview last month on "BET Tonight with Ed Gordon." He added, "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 civil 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 lawsuit. 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 that 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 her sexual encounter with him 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 train stops and went on to sell more than 23 million albums and own a mansion in a Chicago suburb. But the scandal apparently has begun to hurt his career. Some in Chicago have called for a boycott against his music and his joint project with rapper Jay-Z, "The Best of Both Worlds," released after the scandal broke, was a commercial disappointment. The Jive/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam set debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200, and has sold 690,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The Sun-Times reported today that Jay-Z has refused to appear with Kelly since word that he was under investigation came out. A planned tour in support of "The Best of Both Worlds" was canceled.
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.
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