R. Kelly Freed

Singer's arraignment likely in a month

January 23, 2003 12:00 AM ET

R. Kelly quickly posted a $12,000 bond and was released by Polk County, Florida, authorities, after being arrested yesterday on twelve counts of possession of child pornography.

The R&B star was first arrested at his Davenport, Florida, home last June after a Chicago grand jury indicted him on twenty-one counts of child pornography. Those charges stemmed from the infamous videotape that surfaced last February, allegedly showing Kelly, 36, having sex with a minor. Kelly (born Robert S. Kelly) pleaded not guilty to those initial twenty-one counts, was freed on $75,000 bail, and promptly recorded a new single, "Heaven, I Need a Hug."

According to the Polk County, Florida, district attorney's office, after the June arrest, police found a digital camera containing a dozen photographs of a naked, underage girl at one of Kelly's two Florida residences. Those images -- including three that the Polk County Sheriff's Office says show the singer having intercourse with the teen -- were the basis for the twelve new charges. The lag between retrieval of the camera and the latest arrest was attributed to efforts to verify the girl's age.

If convicted in Chicago, Kelly could face fifteen years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Each of the twelve counts in Florida could result in a five-year prison stay, which wouldn't necessarily run concurrently, putting the maximum potential prison stay at sixty years.

An initial statement by the Kelly camp called the arrest "a classic case of piling on, in which a local jurisdiction tries to make headlines by attaching itself to a celebrity case." A second statement was almost immediately issued claiming that the photographs were retrieved from a recording studio, rather than a residence, and accused Miami authorities of rehashing the pre-existing Chicago charges. "The more we learn about these new charges against R. Kelly, the fishier it all seems," the statement reads. "The pictures he is charged with possessing were not found in his personal possession or even in his house, but in a recording studio some eight months ago. They involve no new alleged misconduct. With Kelly's career on the upswing again, is it possible that they're more interested in publicity than in justice?"

"He had two houses here," a spokesperson for the district attorney's office responded. "It may simply be a semantic difference. I can say, in our jurisdiction, the courts are fairly strict on the issue of possession. I'm confident we would not have made a case unless they had good evidence."

Kelly's arraignment, which doesn't require his presence in court, will likely take place in late February or early March. There is no word yet as to whether the case will further halt the release of his much-delayed new album, Chocolate Factory.

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