The Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” sheds new light on allegations that have circled the R&B star for decades. Maeve McDermott explains.
The campaign to take down R. Kelly as an alleged sexual predator took another twisty turn Friday when crusading attorney Gloria Allred announced the teen girl depicted in a new Kelly “sex tape” may be her client.
Allred said she is speaking out because the tape, newly discovered by another crusading attorney, Michael Avenatti, and turned over to prosecutors in Chicago, was leaked to CNN, which reported graphic details Thursday of what is depicted in the 45-minute tape.
“The details that CNN reported about what is on the tape that has allegedly been turned over to Chicago law enforcement is of great concern to me, because the person who is described as a 14-year-old alleged victim on the tape may be one of my clients,” said Allred, who says she represents numerous women who claim to have been sexually abused by the R&B superstar when they were underage.
Allred did not explain why she thinks one of her clients may be on the tape. She said she “made law enforcement in a different jurisdiction” than Chicago aware of her concerns, but wouldn’t say where.
“I am very troubled that this tape has been viewed by the press and by other persons who are not law enforcement,” Allred said in her statement. “I plan to take all appropriate steps as soon as possible to confirm if one of my clients is on this reported tape, and if she is portrayed on the tape we will do everything legally possible to protect her and her rights.”
Avenatti said in a tweet on Friday that Allred is wrong.
“We have no reason to believe that any of Ms. Allred’s clients are on the video and we do not know why she would think any of them are. She has never inquired of anyone on our team as to the issue or any other related to the case. To the best of our knowledge, it is not her client,” Avenatti wrote.
In an interview with USA TODAY on Thursday, Avenatti would not say where he got it or why it has not been previously disclosed during the nearly 20 years Kelly has been accused of sexual misconduct with women and girls. He also denied he leaked it to CNN.
Avenatti said the tape dates from the late 1990s. He said the two individuals depicted in the tape are clear, the man appears to be Kelly, and the girl clearly states on the tape that she is 14. He said the time frame of the sex acts depicted in the tape are within the Illinois statute of limitations.
Aventatti said he unearthed the tape during a quiet 10-month investigation of Kelly on behalf of multiple clients, including a man he called a whistleblower against Kelly. He said his client identified both the girl and Kelly as being on the tape. “He worked for and has known R. Kelly for decades and he met the girl on a number of occasions,” Avenatti said.
So far, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in Chicago has not confirmed nor denied that her office possesses the tape or is investigating Kelly.
Avenatti, like Allred, is known for his media savvy and take-no-prisoners style, especially when he repped Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with President Donald Trump over their alleged sexual tryst. He told USA TODAY that the new video is a “bombshell of epic proportions” and critical evidence that “establishes Kelly’s guilt.”
Chicago prosecutors thought they had similar critical evidence of Kelly’s guilt in 2008, when he was tried on multiple counts of child pornography stemming from another video that allegedly depicted him having sex with a different teen girl.
But that video was unclear and the alleged victim refused to testify against Kelly at his trial. After six years of effort by prosecutors to put Kelly in jail as a sexual predator, the jury acquitted him of all charges, just hours after getting the case.
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