R&B; singer arrested on new child pornography charges

Times Staff Writer

R&B; star R. Kelly, awaiting trial on child pornography charges, was arrested Wednesday morning in Miami on new charges that he was in possession of sexually graphic photographs of himself and a female minor.

The 36-year-old singer of hits such as "I Believe I Can Fly" was arrested on a warrant issued from Polk County, Fla., where he has a home. A police spokeswoman in that county said the charges are the culmination of an investigation that began in June, when police twice searched the singer's home and discovered 12 digital images showing a nude girl. In three of the photos, police say, Kelly is engaged in sexual activity with the girl.

Those June searches of Kelly's Florida residence were prompted by an investigation in his hometown of Chicago, where the singer was arraigned the same month on 21 felony counts of child pornography charges. Those charges stem from a now infamous home video that allegedly shows Kelly in sexual liaisons with several female partners. Investigators say one of those partners was 14 at the time of the filming. A trial date has not been set.

The arrest comes just weeks before Kelly's bid to resume his career with a new album, "Chocolate Factory," that has been creating fan interest already with the radio hit "Ignition." Kelly was arrested at a hotel in Coconut Grove, where he had been staying during the production of a video for "Ignition."

The singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has also faced at least three lawsuits in recent years filed by young women who claim they were exploited as underage sexual partners. Kelly has settled two of the suits and is fighting the third. He has maintained his innocence of the assorted allegations and has said he is not the man in the lurid video.

In a statement, Kelly's camp said: "At this point, it looks to us like a classic case of piling on, in which a local jurisdiction tries to make headlines by attaching itself to a celebrity case. As far as we can tell, the charges all relate to R. Kelly's arrest last summer. In other words, there is nothing new here."

Carrie Rodgers, a spokeswoman for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, said the gap between the discovery of the images and Kelly's arrest are due to the sensitive nature of the case.

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