- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

CHICAGO (AP) R&B; star R. Kelly was indicted yesterday on child pornography charges stemming from a videotape that officials say shows the Grammy winner having sexual relations with an underage girl, a source in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said.

A grand jury charged Mr. Kelly, whose first name is Robert, with 21 counts of child pornography, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The court documents were not immediately released.

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 Mr. Kelly's arrest.

Lawyers for the 33-year-old Chicago native did not immediately return calls to the Associated Press. Mr. Kelly has denied he is the man on the tape.

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, gospel-influenced "I Believe I Can Fly" to sexually charged material such as "Bump 'n' Grind," "Feelin' On Yo Booty" and "Your Body's Callin'."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported in February that it had received the tape anonymously and passed it along to Chicago police, who began investigating Mr. Kelly.

The tape, which reportedly shows Mr. Kelly having relations with a minor and other sexual encounters with women, is being circulated across the country and on the Internet.

Mr. Kelly has said he has not seen the video.

"I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see," Mr. Kelly said last month on "BET Tonight with Ed Gordon."

"I've done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I'm not a criminal, I'm not a monster."

Mr. Kelly also is the focus of at least four lawsuits, three of which accuse him of having sexual relations 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.

That suit was filed April 29 by a woman who said Mr. Kelly had sexual relations with her when she was a minor and forced her to have an abortion.

Mr. Kelly has said the first two lawsuits charging underage sex had no merit. He said that 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 Mr. Kelly of secretly taping their sexual encounter at his recording studio, Chicago Trax.

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.

Mr. Kelly rose from childhood poverty on Chicago's South Side. He began singing for change at the city's L stops and went on to sell more than 23 million albums and own a mansion in a Chicago suburb.

The scandal apparently has begun to hurt Mr. Kelly's 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.

Mr. Kelly is married to a former dancer from his touring troupe. They have a newborn son and two young daughters.

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