R. Kelly heads back to Chicago

June 6, 2002 at 5:11 PM
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BARTOW, Fla., June 6 (UPI) -- R&B superstar R. Kelly appeared in court on child pornography charges Thursday, then put up a $750,000 bond and headed back to Chicago with his lawyer and spiritual adviser.

Kelly, 35, was indicted on 21 counts Wednesday by a grand jury in Chicago, based on a tape allegedly depicting him engaging in sexual acts with a minor.

Kelly has denied it is him on the tape but State's Attorney Richard Devine said the tape was authenticated by FBI technicians.

Kelly was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a home he rents in Haines City, Fla., and spent the night in the Polk County Jail. He was arrested without incident in front of his home as he sat in a friend's van. More than a dozen fans looked on and shouted support.

During Thursday's court appearance, Judge Karla Wright set bond at $750,000 and ordered Kelly not to have contact with minors unrelated to him.

Attorney Ed Genson fumed over Kelly's treatment, charging prosecutors with bad faith. Genson said he thought he had a deal with Devine that would have allowed Kelly to drive back to Chicago on his own and surrender. Instead, authorities issued a warrant, which was put on the national crime database, prompting the Polk County Sheriff's Department to pick him up.

"I don't know if it was his race. I don't know if it was his celebrity. But we were double-crossed," Genson said.

Kelly appeared in court dressed in orange prison garb with his hand secured by plastic restraints.

At Wednesday's news conference announcing the indictment, Chicago Chief of Detectives Phil Cline went out of his way to emphasize Kelly would not receive any special treatment because of his celebrity.

Genson and the Rev. James Meeks were on hand when Kelly posted bond about 3 p.m. EDT. It was unclear whether the group was driving back or flying since Genson said Kelly is afraid to fly.

Police have been investigating allegations of underage sex involving Kelly for three years. The current charges stem from a videotape received anonymously by the Chicago Sun-Times and turned over to police in February.

The tape purports to show Kelly cavorting with a 14-year-old girl. It has been reproduced and sold on street corners. It also was available on the Internet.

Kelly has been sued by five women who allege he coerced them into sexual relationships. Two were underage.

Devine Wednesday refused to say why Kelly had been charged only with child pornography and not more serious sex charges. He left open the possibility further charges could be filed, saying the investigation is continuing.

Within hours of the indictment, Tower Records removed "R. Kelly: Bump & Grind. You Be the Judge" from its shelves. The pornographic tape features Kelly with an adult woman and a female of indeterminate age. The tape was made by Underground Entertainment, whose contact address is a post office box. A spokesman for Tower said the video is not the one "they are using in the trial."

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