R&B singer arrested on child pornography charges

— R&B; star R. Kelly was arrested Wednesday in Florida after Chicago authorities filed child pornography charges alleging that he appears on a videotape having sex with an underage girl.

"I can confirm that he was arrested in Florida," Kelly spokesman Allan Mayer said.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office in Florida's Polk County would only say that Kelly had been arrested there.

Kelly, whose first name is Robert, was indicted in Chicago on 21 counts of child pornography earlier in the day after officials said their investigation of a videotape showed the Grammy winner having sex with an underage girl.

The videotape purporting to show Kelly and an underage girl has been sold on the streets in major cities, and has been a topic among R&B; fans and musicians.

Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard said FBI forensics experts determined the tape was authentic, and that other experts had determined the people on the tape were Kelly and an underage girl.

Kelly has denied that he is the man shown in the video.

"It's unfortunate to see Mr. Kelly's talents go to waste, but it becomes a tragedy when behavior damages a community," Hillard said.

If convicted, Kelly faces a prison term of up to 15 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.

Hillard said police and the FBI have worked with witnesses to identify those on the tape.

Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine said the video was made in November 1997 or later and that the girl in the video was born in September 1984.

The singer is known for hits ranging from the Grammy-winning, gospellike "I Believe I Can Fly" to sexually charged material such as "Bump 'n' Grind," "Feelin' On Yo Booty" and "Your Body's Callin'."

The tape is being circulated on the Internet, and police warned that anyone who has it could be charged with possession of child pornography.

Kelly also is the focus of at least four 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.

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 the first two lawsuits charging underage sex had no merit and that he 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 their sexual encounter at his recording studio, Chicago Trax.

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

Kelly 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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