Chicago prosecutors certainly think so, accusing the R&B superstar of intentionally misleading the judge in his child pornography case by asking to be allowed to leave town this weekend for a radio station-sponsored concert in New York City in which he’s not even on the bill.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Kelly told Judge Vincent Gaughan that he was “one of the featured performers” for the show, which would’ve required him to be in the Big Apple on June 7 and
8. But, prosecutors say, they placed a call to the radio station hosting the concert and discovered that Kelly was not scheduled to appear.
“At the time [Kelly] presented his motion to the court, he was not scheduled to perform,” Special Assistant State’s Attorney Ellen Mandeltort tells the Sun-Times.
Prosecutors have routinely tried to ground Kelly, repeatedly asking that he be barred from leaving the state of Illinois since his indictment last year on 21 charges of child pornography stemming from an alleged videotaped sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl.
However, in every instance, Judge Gaughan has granted the “I Believe I Can Fly” crooner’s requests to travel across state lines for shows and promotional appearances. But, as part of the deal, the judge routinely stipulates that Kelly phone in every day and, most importantly, avoid all contact with minors.
For its part, Kelly’s camp says the embattled entertainer has never had any problem complying with the judge’s orders and argued that prosecutors’ claims were unwarranted.
“One, he’s not misleading the court and has obvious respect for the court and would not do anything to violate the trust the court puts in him,” says Kelly’s publicist, Allan Mayer. “There was never any problem with the judge. [Two,] a performer’s schedule changes constantly and concert promoters change their bills all the time.”
Kelly’s attorney, Ed Genson, tells the Sun-Times that Kelly was waiting for the judge to give the okay before agreeing to take part in New York gig, which it now appears he’ll miss.
Kelly, whose oeuvre includes such ditties as “Bump ‘n Grind,” “Sex Me,” “Your Body’s Callin'” and “Snake,” has been trying to keep the focus on his music, with surprising success. His latest album, Chocolate Factory, debuted at number one in February and has sold 2 million copies. But nobody said it was going to come cheap.
In April, Gaughan allowed Kelly to head West for a 10-day video shoot, but the Grammy winner had to fork over $25,000 to fly to California. That’s because Kelly violated his probation in February when he failed to check in with his probation officer during a trip to Florida.
Kelly hopes to travel to Dallas in the near future to perform at a fundraiser to help raise money for families of soldiers killed or injured in action in Iraq (Kelly himself donated $50,000 to the charity and rereleased his song “A Soldier’s Heart,” to benefit military families). Other future trips include singing at a BET Awards dinner in Los Angeles and filming a music video–that is if Judge Gaughan lets him go.
A trial date has yet to be scheduled in his Illinois child pornography case. Kelly is also facing 12 more counts of kiddie-porn possession in Florida.