MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Sitting in a New York jail cell, disgraced singer R. Kelly learned he now faces sex crime charges here in Minnesota. The alleged crimes are said to have happened in July of 2001, when the victim was 17.
Kelly faces two charges of prostitution involving a minor.
At the City Center 18 years ago, Kelly hosted an autograph session before his upcoming concert. Investigators say the victim waited in line for his signature-- a meeting that prosecutors say would lead to a paid sexual encounter.
Already facing a multitude of sex crime charges from Illinois to New York, the three-time Grammy winner can add two more-- at the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
"Minnesota victims deserve their day in court and that's one of the reasons we're here," Freeman said.
While on tour in 2001, court documents say Kelly held an autograph session at the city center in Minneapolis where he would meet a 17-year-old fan. But instead of just his signature, he gave the girl his phone number. She called and was directed to a downtown Minneapolis hotel where Kelly was staying, then she was ushered up to his room.
"After some discussion, she was offered $200 to take her clothes off and to dance before him," Freeman said. "She accepted $200. He got naked and they proceeded to dance."
Court documents say Kelly then gave the 17-year-old VIP seating at his concert at the Orpheum. It wasn't until January of this year that the victim contacted a tip line in Chicago to share her story-- one that eventually was investigated by Minneapolis police.
Civil rights lawyer Gloria Allred represents the now-adult woman and emphasized that her client is not and was not a prostitute.
"Anyone who is underage who has been the victim of sexual abuse by Mr. Kelly is exactly that-- a victim," Allred said.
After the charges were announced, Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg tweeted: "Give me a break. This is beyond absurd."
He then spoke with WCCO over the phone, saying, "I don't think that there's any chance that you're ever going to see R. Kelly face these charges. Like I said, I think it's just a publicity play by a prosecutor."
"Assuming that the encounter occurred at all-- which I think suspicious and I'd be skeptical in any event-- it doesn't say he ever knew that this girl was 17," Greenberg continued. "They had no sex. It doesn't say that he ever paid her for sex which is the essence of a prostitution charge, or that he told her she had to engage in any kind of sexual activity. The whole thing is just some prosecutor who wants to get his face on TV."
Greenberg said, to his knowledge, Kelly is unaware of the new charges. He said Kelly does not have phone privileges at the New York jail and will return to Chicago in the coming days where Greenberg will inform Kelly of the charges.
Freeman was asked about the statute of limitations in this case. He said because Kelly left the state after the encounter in 2001, the toll doesn't begin until he returns to Minnesota for a full three years. They do not believe in the 18 years since the incident that Kelly has visited the state for a total of three years.
"It's a policy reason, because someone fled. They committed a crime and they fled so they wouldn't get caught for committing a crime. There's no crime here, there's not flight, so again, (Freeman is) perverting the intent of the statute of limitations. He's perverting the intent to the exception. He really just ought to be ashamed of himself," Greenberg said.
WCCO asked Greenberg how he will proceed given the other charges Kelly faces.
"I don't think that there's any chance that you're ever going see R. Kelly face these charges. Like I said, I think it's just a publicity play by a prosecutor. No one's going to ever try this case. First of all, after we beat the cases in Illinois and New York, if he still wants to take us on then, then so be it. But he's not going to win that case."
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