Though it reportedly appears the girl actively participated in the sex acts, she would have been unable to give legal consent at 14
The high-profile attorney said in a statement that he recently recovered a previously undisclosed VHS tape of the singer, whose given name is Robert Kelly, engaging in multiple sexual assaults of the girl.
“The tape, which is clear, is approximately 45 minutes in length and has never previously been publicly disclosed or, until recently, provided to law enforcement,” Avenatti said in his statement.
Avenatti told HuffPost that the tape was recorded in Chicago in the late 1990s, when Kelly would have been in his late 20s or early 30s. The timing of the sexual acts allegedly seen in the video falls within the relevant Illinois statute of limitations, he said in his statement.
CNN, which viewed the video, said the tape appears to show Kelly engaged in multiple sex acts with a girl who repeatedly refers to what she calls her “14-year-old” body parts. CNN’s description of the video suggests the girl appeared to be actively participating in the sexual acts.
Nevertheless, if the girl was 14 at the time, the incident may amount to sexual assault or statutory rape. The age of legal consent in Illinois is 17.
Avenatti provided additional details about the video’s alleged content in a statement later on Thursday, claiming that Kelly can be seen engaging in oral, anal and vaginal sex with the girl in two different rooms on two different days.
“Mr. Kelly and the young victim are both clearly visible throughout the tape as is an identifying mole on the mid to low back of Mr. Kelly on his left side,” Avenatti wrote. “Critically, Mr. Kelly and the victim also verbally refer to the girl as only being 14 on multiple occasions on the video,” he added.
Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said in a statement that he wasn’t aware of Avenatti’s allegations until Thursday.
“I have not been contacted by anyone connected with law enforcement, nor has R Kelly,” Greenberg said in his statement. “Mr. Kelly denies that he has engaged in any illegal conduct, of any kind whatsoever.”
Avenatti is representing three individuals in connection with sexual abuse allegations against Kelly, including victims and witnesses, he told HuffPost. He said he gave the tape to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.A representative for the prosecutor’s office told HuffPost that they cannot confirm or deny an investigation.
The description of the tape sounds similar to a video that surfaced in 2002, which reportedly showed Kelly sexually assaulting an underage girl. The 2002 video allegedly showed Kelly urinating on the girl, as does, according to CNN, the tape Avenatti turned over to prosecutors. Kelly was acquitted of charges related to the 2002 incident six years later.
In 2017, BuzzFeed News published an explosive report alleging that Kelly operated an abusive sex cult. The shocking accusations of abuse and sexual assault made headlines again recently with the release of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which interviewed several women who say they were abused by the musician.
This story has been updated with Greenberg’s comments and additional comments from Avenatti.