Friday, June 7, 2002
Bartow, Fla. Grammy-award winning R&B; star R. Kelly was released from jail Thursday after a judge set bail at $750,000 and warned him to stay away from children other than his own.
Kelly, 35, who was arrested on child-pornography charges Wednesday as he left a winter home he was renting in Davenport, Fla., appeared in a Polk County courtroom wearing an orange jail outfit after spending the night behind bars.
He stood quietly with his hands clasped before him, frowning slightly, through most of the 35-minute hearing before Polk County Judge Karla Foreman Wright. At times, his eyes appeared moist.
"You're not to have contact with minor children not related by blood or marriage. Do you understand?" the judge asked.
"Yes, ma'am," Kelly answered, nodding.
Assistant State Atty. Chip Thullbery asked Wright to order that Kelly, whose first name is Robert, be held on no bond because his ties to Polk County are tenuous, the charges are serious and he has enough money to skip town.
One of the entertainer's attorneys, Ed Genson of Chicago, assured the judge Kelly was not a flight risk.
"We have a plane waiting," Genson said. He wouldn't say when Kelly would leave Florida but said it would be "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."
The singer paid a nonrefundable $75,000 to a bail bondsman to avoid spending more time in jail waiting for Chicago police to get him.
A Chicago grand jury Wednesday indicted Kelly on 21 charges of child pornography based on a videotape that prosecutors say shows him having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Genson said Kelly would plead not guilty. Experts said the case could rest on whether the girl cooperated with prosecutors.
Kelly was not at his home in the RidgeWood Lakes neighborhood off U.S. Highway 27 after his release. His lawyers said he had been staying there for several months with his wife of seven years and their children, 4 and 2, to get away from the spotlight in his hometown of Chicago. A third child was born two weeks ago.
A handful of fans waited outside the courthouse for Kelly to be released, but the singer best known for the hit single "I Believe I Can Fly" was spirited away after sending a decoy sport-utility vehicle and a white limousine as distractions.
"I just wanted to be on the scene because I'm a fan," said Shelah Taylor, 41, who said she had seen a bootleg copy of the tape, which has been making the rounds on the Internet and on the street. "I'm just here for support."