CHICAGO — Attorney Michael Avenatti said Thursday that he has given Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of R&B star R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl.
Avenatti said the video is not the same evidence used in Kelly's 2008 trial, when he was acquitted on child pornography charges. CNN, which said it had viewed the footage, reported that the nearly 45-minute VHS tape shows a man who appears to be Kelly performing sex acts with a girl who refers to her body parts as 14 years old.
Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, would not confirm or deny that the office is investigating.
Kelly and his attorney have for years denied allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday on the latest allegations.
Avenatti is best known for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump. He said his office was retained in April 2018 by multiple people regarding allegations of sexual assault of minors by Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly.
Avenatti said the video surfaced during a 10-month investigation that included witness interviews and examination of documents and evidence throughout the U.S. He told The Associated Press the person who provided the tape knew both Kelly and the female in the video. He also said he did not know where the person had kept the video or why it had not previously been provided to law enforcement.
Both Kelly and the victim are “clearly visible” throughout the recording, as is an identifying mole on Kelly's back, and both of them refer multiple times to the girl being 14, Avenatti said in a statement.
Kelly can be heard on the tape directing the girl to perform sex acts, the statement said. The singer also “takes great pains” to adjust the camera to ensure that the acts are recorded “with specificity and at a limited distance,” according to the statement.
Foxx asked potential victims to come forward last month after Lifetime aired the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which revisited the allegations against Kelly and put a spotlight on new ones.
Activists from the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly social media movements used the renewed attention to call for streaming services to drop Kelly's music and promoters not to book any more concerts. They also held protests outside Kelly's Chicago studio.
Kelly denied all the allegations, and his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said Kelly was the victim of a TV hit piece . He said Kelly "never knowingly had sex with an underage woman, he never forced anyone to do anything, he never held anyone captive, he never abused anyone."
Avenatti said his office is cooperating with Foxx's office. He called Kelly a predator who has preyed on “young, vulnerable girls” for too long.
“The time has come for him to finally be held accountable for his actions,” he said.
Avenatti did not say when the video was recorded but said the acts depicted in it are within the Illinois statute of limitations for criminal charges.
Illinois lawmakers in 2017 eliminated all time limits for felony criminal sexual assault and sexual abuse crimes against children. The new law was prompted in part by decades-old sex abuse allegations against former Rep. Dennis Hastert, who was charged with banking violations because under Illinois law victims of sex abuse had 20 years from their 18th birthday to report the crime so it could be prosecuted.
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