UPDATED: According to reports in The New Yorker and CNN, a new tape that shows R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl has surfaced. The New Yorker report, which was written by longtime Kelly reporter Jim DeRogatis, who in 2002 broke the news of the sex tape that led to criminal charges against the singer, cites a senior law-enforcement official as saying that prosecutors may soon indict him in Illinois.
A rep for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office told Variety it could not confirm or deny an investigation.
CNN, says it has viewed the tape, which appears show Kelly having sex with a girl who “refers to her body parts as 14 years old.” Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing a man he says is a whistleblower against Kelly, told the network that he gave the tape to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago last weekend. Earlier on Thursday, Avenatti tweeted a statement noting that he was retained by “multiple clients in connection with allegations of sexual assault of minors” by Kelly.
“My client knows the identity of the girl and R. Kelly. 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 said.
In a long statement obtained by Variety, Kelly lawyer Steve Greenberg said in part: “HAPPY VALENTINES DAY … The calls and emails I received were the first I’ve heard of these allegations. I understand that CNN says that they have seen this video. If the video were what it is claimed to be, by sharing it with CNN Mr. Avenatti would be committing a felony, as would the reporter who viewed it. … I have not been contacted by anyone connected with law enforcement, nor has R Kelly. Mr. Kelly denies that he has engaged in any illegal conduct, of any kind whatsoever. … All of the claims by these women were brought forth years ago, rejected by the police, and/or rejected by the courts, but now for their own gain they have rehashed them.”
The New Yorker describes the tape in far stronger terms, saying it shows the singer “sexually assaulting an underage girl,” citing the official and two other sources familiar with the tape.
Based on CNN’s graphic description, the video shows many similarities between the tape uncovered in 2002, and also features the girl calling the singer “Daddy,” among other similarities to previous reports.
Allegations of sexually abusive behavior by Kelly toward young women date back more than 20 years. Most infamously, Kelly was charged with child pornography in 2000 after a video surfaced that purported to show him having sex with an underage woman (Kelly was cleared in 2008 after that woman declined to testify against him). In 1995, when he was 27, he briefly married the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15 at the time (in “Surviving R. Kelly” an executive who formerly worked with the singer says he forged Aaliyah’s birth date on the marriage license to say she was 18, and another witness says she saw Kelly and Aaliyah having sex). Just last year, reports of Kelly essentially holding women captive in a “sex cult” were published. Multiple other reports have surfaced over the years.
Last month Kelly’s longtime label, Sony Music subsidiary RCA Records, parted company with the singer.