The tape was obtained by lawyer Michael Avenetti, who is representing several clients connected to R. Kelly’s alleged sexual assault of minors. Per CNN, Avenetti handed over the tape to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago last weekend.
Reporter Jim DeRogatis — who has been covering R. Kelly for nearly 20 years – confirmed in The New Yorker that law enforcement officials have the tape, adding that it could soon lead to an indictment of Kelly in Illinois.
A communications officer for the Cook County State’s Attorney Office tells Rolling Stone that they “cannot confirm or deny an investigation” and did not comment further.
A representative for Kelly declined to comment. Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, told CNN, “We are unaware of any new information involving Mr. Kelly. We have not been contacted by anyone. We have not been informed about any new information by anyone and we have not been contacted by law enforcement.”
In a strongly worded statement released later on Thursday, Greenberg refuted all claims. “He would like to be able to continue to write and sing and produce and perform,” Greenberg wrote. “Unfortunately, as a result of a documentary that regurgitated long ago rejected claims, he has been adjudged guilty in the public eye … In this country people are entitled to presumption of innocence. Absent conclusive evidence, proof beyond reasonable doubt, I would ask that people follow the principles that make this country great.”
According to CNN, the tape is approximately 42 minutes long and contains two scenes, one ostensibly in a living room and the other in a bedroom. The clip reportedly shows a naked man, who appears to be R. Kelly, performing multiple sex acts with the girl. The girl can reportedly be heard calling the man “daddy” multiple times. While the girl’s exact age cannot be determined from the video, both the girl and the man refer to her “14-year-old” genitalia multiple times.
In the video, the man also allegedly asks the girl at one point to urinate. After she does, the man reportedly urinates on her.
In a statement on Twitter, Avenetti noted that, despite the similarities, the videotape is completely new and not the same as the infamous tape that surfaced when Kelly was arrested and indicted for child pornography in 2002 (he was later acquitted on those charges in 2008). Much of that case centered around whether the man in the tape had a mole on his back that might identify him as R. Kelly; according to CNN, the man in the new tape has a small mole on his back to the left of his spine.
In response to press inquiries, attached is a stmt regarding our work on the R. Kelly matter since April, including the discovery of new critical video evidence establishing his guilt. We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that this predator is brought to justice. pic.twitter.com/D0dGFzgXlX
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) February 14, 2019
Avenetti also claimed that that the alleged sexual assaults depicted in the new video fall within the Illinois statute of limitations. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, Illinois law states that if a sexual assault victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, prosecution can commence at any time so long as “corroborating physical evidence is available,” or if there’s an individual who could have reported the offense at the time, but failed to do so. Should neither thing apply, however, a prosecution can still begin within 20 years after the child victim turns 18.
“Our work has been painstaking, detailed, expensive and time-consuming,” Avenetti said. “Mr. Kelly is a predator and a criminal who has prayed on young, vulnerable girls for far too long. The time has come for him to finally be held accountable for his actions.”
The discovery of the videotape could be the most significant development in the case against Kelly. Following the bombshell Lifetime docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, authorities in Chicago and Atlanta opened investigations into allegations of sexual and physical abuse against R. Kelly, with prosecutors in both cities seeking information from potential victims and witnesses.