Now that Chicago authorities have had four months to study the infamous video that purports to show R. Kelly engaged in various sex acts with a 14-year-old girl, the singer has been indicted today on 21 counts of violating child pornography laws, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office tells EW.com. The charges amount to a Class 1 felony that could cost the singer $100,000 in fines and land him in prison for up to 15 years, the State’s Attorney’s office says. Kelly’s Los Angeles publicist said late Wednesday that Kelly has been taken into custody in Polk County, Florida.<
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, police have been investigating the 33-year-old singer’s alleged relationship with the girl for three years; the videotape, submitted anonymously to the paper and turned over to the police in February, offered the hard evidence they needed for an indictment. (The girl has not been named, but Kelly protégé Sparkle claims the girl is her niece.) The Sun-Times also says that the FBI has authenticated the tape, despite Kelly’s claim that the tape is a forgery.State’s Attorney Richard Devine said Wednesday that the charges break down to ”seven counts of videotaping the sex acts, seven counts of producing the video, and seven counts of soliciting or enticing the girl into having these illicit acts.”
The indictment comes on the heels of an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed last week by dancer Montina Woods, who claims that Kelly secretly taped a sexual encounter between the two of them and distributed the video. Woods, 33, is one of three women or young girls apparently shown having sex with Kelly on the street bootleg of the video that is the source of today’s indictment.
The wide availability of the video on the street and the Internet, along with several other lawsuits filed by minors who claim Kelly pressured them into sex, has damaged the ”Bump ‘n’ Grind” singer’s career. Calls for boycotts and protests at radio stations have coincided with slumping sales for ”The Best of Both Worlds,” his recent CD collaboration with Jay-Z. Kelly has settled three such suits out of court and has denied all allegations against him; in an interview last month on BET, he said, ”I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I’m not a criminal, I’m not a monster.” Responding to today’s charges, he issued a statement through his publicist, saying, ”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. 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.”