Chicago prosecutors are investigating a VHS tape of what appears to be, according to lawyer Michael Avenatti, singer R. Kelly raping a girl.
“My client knows the identity of the girl and R. Kelly,” Avenatti, who previously represented Stormy Daniels, told CNN. “He identified the two of them on the videotape. He worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades and he met the girl on a number of occasions. Avenatti turned the tape over to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago last weekend, CNN reports.
In the footage, reviewed by CNN, a man who appears to be R. Kelly is sexually assaulting a girl, referring to her “14-year-old pussy.” Later, he urinates on her. According to CNN, “What is on the video mirrors some of the alleged acts for which Kelly was arrested for child pornography in 2002, when he was 35, and then acquitted six years later.”
Jim DeRogatis, who in 2017 reported that R. Kelly ran an alleged sex cult ring, writes in the New Yorker that, according to a senior law enforcement official, “a videotape from the R. & B. superstar R. Kelly’s past may soon lead to his indictment in Illinois.”
For decades, Kelly has distanced himself from allegations of serial child sexual abuse. In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography related to another tape he made, appearing to sexually assault a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 years old. In 2008, he was acquitted of the charges. He has settled four lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.
In the New Yorker, DeRogatis writes about the initial video that led to Kelly’s former indictment, and the possible existence of other, similar videos:
The videotape related to Kelly’s previous indictment was first given to me, anonymously, on February 1, 2002, when I was a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. The Sun-Times turned it over to police the same day. Prosecutors said that the tape showed Kelly having sex with the niece of a former Kelly protégé, the R. & B. singer Sparkle. The girl was identified by fifteen witnesses for the prosecution, including Sparkle, but the girl and her parents did not testify. The case took six years to go to trial; jurors later said that Kelly was acquitted because the girl and her parents never testified.
Following the initial indictment, there were reports that Kelly had other, similar tapes in his possession. In July, 2002, Kelly was sued by a Kansas City man named Charles Freeman, who alleged that he had been hired by Kelly’s chief private investigator at the time, Jack Palladino, to track down any videotapes related to Kelly that might be “on the streets.”
Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg did not immediately respond to the New Yorker’s request for comment, but told the AP last month, “He never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never forced anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abused anyone.”
The decades-old allegations against Kelly are finally gaining traction after black women activists campaigned to “Mute R. Kelly” and Lifetime ran a six-part docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly,” which detailed the allegations of abuse. Law enforcement officials in Georgia have since opened an investigation into R. Kelly, and Sony has dropped the singer.