A warrant was issued Thursday afternoon for the arrest of R&B megastar R. Kelly after he failed to show up for court in Minneapolis on accusations that in 2001 he paid a girl to strip naked and dance for him.
The singer had a 1:30 p.m. first appearance scheduled in Hennepin County District Court on two counts of prostitution but is in custody in Illinois on federal child pornography charges.
County attorney spokesman Chuck Laszewski said the likely result of the warrant is that Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, will be ordered to appear in court in Minnesota after the adjudication of his federal case in Illinois.
“It’s not unheard of,” he said of the process.
No attorney appeared in court for Kelly, 52, on Thursday, despite an order from the court that Kelly be present. No attorney has filed notice of representation in his Minnesota case. No documents were filed indicating a continuance of the hearing to a future date, waiving Kelly’s appearance or ordering his extradition to the state.
Senior Hennepin County Attorney Judith Cole said at his hearing that federal authorities and Kelly’s defense attorneys did not want him transported between states while his Illinois case is pending.
Cole requested the arrest warrant.
Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam issued the warrant, noting that it was the “appropriate” step.
Steve Greenberg, one of Kelly’s attorneys in the federal case, said he would not attend the Minnesota hearing and had “no idea” how authorities were going to handle it.
“I’ve never heard from the prosecutor’s office, I’ve never been sent [a] single document, and … no one asked Kelly to be there,” Greenberg said in a written statement after Thursday’s hearing.
A summons was filed in Kelly’s case on Aug. 8 ordering him to “appear before the court” Thursday or risk having a warrant issued for his arrest.
“We are treating it as though he will be there,” Laszewski said before the hearing.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the alleged victim in the case, said she would not have any representatives from her office at the hearing, which is a procedural first hearing for people who are charged with a crime.
Allred said her client, who has not been publicly identified, would not be granting any interviews.
Allred has previously noted that her client was not a prostitute, and that she was told by Minnesota authorities that the prostitution charges were the most fitting for the circumstances.
Greenberg defended Kelly when Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman conducted an Aug. 5 news conference to announce that his office was charging the 52-year-old.
“The underlying facts, even if you take them at face value, don’t cry out for prosecution,” Greenberg said at the time. Freeman is “just in it, just like many of these women, for publicity. It’s just a total perversion of the entire system and a waste of time.”
Authorities said the alleged victim called a Chicago tip line in January to report that Kelly paid her $200 to dance naked in a Minneapolis hotel room.
According to the criminal complaint: In July 2001, the victim obtained an autograph from Kelly at a preconcert event at City Center in downtown Minneapolis that included a phone number.
She called the number and was directed to a hotel in downtown Minneapolis where an apparent member of Kelly’s staff led her to his suite.
Kelly allegedly helped her take off her clothes and took off his own and engaged in sexual touching, the criminal complaint said. Authorities said there was no intercourse.
The singer left after the dancing and the 17-year-old was given free VIP seating for the concert restricted to guests age 18 and older.
At the August news conference, Freeman said “there was some talk” of the juvenile traveling to Chicago to see the singer, but when she tried to call Kelly, they had trouble connecting and the phone number soon changed.
Kelly faces several federal counts in Chicago for allegedly filming himself having sex with underage girls and allegedly paying potential witnesses to change their stories in a 2008 trial in which he was acquitted.
He was indicted in July in New York on several federal counts including kidnapping, sending child pornography across state lines and obstruction of justice for allegedly making hush-money payments to victims.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib