R. Kelly's Sing-Along With Chicago Schoolkids May Put Him Behind Bars

By | June 11, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Within hours of surrendering to Chicago authorities, R. Kelly may have violated terms of his bond by associating with minors, a matter which could cost the singer his freedom before his impending trial on child pornography charges.

On Friday morning, Kelly surrendered himself to authorities in Cook County, Illinois (see “R. Kelly Back In Chicago; June 26 Court Date Set”). After he was processed and posted a $750,000 bond, Kelly went with his lawyer Edward Genson and his spiritual advisor, Reverend James Meeks, to attend a ceremony held at the Salem Baptist Church, where Meeks is a pastor.

The event Kelly attended was a graduation ceremony for Salem Christian Academy kindergartners, however, and as the group of 25-30 children sang Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest,” the R&B singer got up onstage to sing a few bars with them.

This moment, caught on tape, could be in conflict with the conditions stipulated when Kelly posted his first bond upon arrest in Polk County, Florida, after he refused extradition to Chicago – namely that he not have any contact with minors other than his own children or blood relatives. But since this was a condition of his first bond, it’s currently being disputed whether the conditions apply only within Florida’s borders or if they include Kelly’s behavior outside of the state.

The bond covers Kelly regardless of where he’s located, according to the office of Polk County Judge Karla Wright, who set the stipulations. “This is not Florida taking jurisdiction over Illinois,” a spokesperson in Wright’s office said. “This is Florida taking jurisdiction over [Kelly].”

For his part, Kelly’s lawyer dismisses the claim that conditions in Florida would extend to Illinois. “There are no conditions in Illinois,” Genson said. “There was no hearing, nothing filed. And since he surrendered in Illinois, he’s exonerated [of those conditions].”

Furthermore, Kelly’s appearance at the church – which Genson called “innocuous” – wouldn’t constitute a violation of the court order even if the conditions did apply, Genson said.

“He wasn’t associating with minors,” Genson said. “He went to church. And going to church isn’t associating with children. Under that theory, if you walk into the mall, you have to leave if children are there. How can you prohibit going to church with a minister?

“By that theory, he can’t entertain if people in the crowd are under 18,” he continued. “It was just sort of a cute thing, since they were singing the song he wrote. So he sang the same song, said thank you, and left. I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office confirmed that their office had been notified of Kelly’s appearance with the children and have referred the matter to a chief judge to determine if the conditions still apply, and if so, whether such an appearance would be a violation that would require Kelly’s bond to be revoked.

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