After R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four alleged victims on Friday, lawyer Michael Avenatti spoke out about the investigation, claiming that he turned over a sex tape to Cook County prosecutors in Illinois allegedly showing the singer engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl.
Avenatti, 48, who is currently representing six clients — two alleged victims, two parents and two “whistleblowers” — in the investigation against Kelly, 52, shared screenshots from the alleged sex tape on his Twitter account and addressed them further during a press conference held later on Friday.
PEOPLE has reviewed the screenshots but has chosen not to include because the alleged victim could have been underage at the time.
The tape, which Avenatti said is over 40 minutes in length, “leaves no question as to whether R. Kelly is guilty of multiple sexual, illegal acts against a 14-year-old girl,” he said.
“The tape was shot in the late ‘90s, approximately 1999, it depicts two separate scenes shot on two separate days within Mr. Kelly’s residence at the time,” Avenatti continued. “The audio on the tape, you can clearly listen to it — it is clear — the video is far superior to the video that was used in connection to the 2008 trial. It is an entirely different video.”
The other sex tape Avenatti is referencing allegedly shows the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer with another underage girl, that led to Kelly’s 2002 arrest on child pornography charges. Six years later in 2008, a Cook County jury found Kelly not guilty on all 14 counts.
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Kelly, however, has repeatedly denied all accusations of sexual abuse or misconduct made against him.
In the new tape that Avenatti recently brought to prosecutors, Avenatti claims that both the victim and Kelly repeatedly “refer to the victim’s age as 14” in excess of 10 separate times.
“It is also clear from other things that are depicted on the video that this is in no way role-playing during some sexual act,” he said. “It is clear that this young lady was 14 years of age during the time the video was shot. Mr. Kelly, throughout the video, stops what he’s doing, stops his acts of sexual assault and he proceeds to move the video camera and adjust the camera angle — zooming in, changing the direction of the shot and things of that nature. So there’s no question that he knew exactly what he was doing. At one point in time on the video, in the first scene, it is clear that Mr. Kelly is having the victim watch another piece of pornography which appears to be him with yet another young girl on a big screen television in the background.”
“Repeatedly on the video, the young lady refers to Mr. Kelly as ‘daddy,’” he continued. “The video depicts Mr. Kelly engaged in oral sex with the young victim, both receiving as well as giving, as well as vaginal intercourse and anal penetration. There are also instances of Mr. Kelly urinating on the young girl on the videotape.”
Avenatti said he turned over the tape to Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx within days of their recovery of it earlier this month. He also said he is aware of “two other tapes in existence,” one of which he said they have recovered and the other they’re in the process of recovering.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“Today marks a watershed moment in the 25 years of abuse by this predator known as R. Kelly,” Avenatti said. “He, together with those that enabled him, undertook a course of action over two decades to abuse and sexually assault young girls, especially many of whom were the most vulnerable in our society. Girls that many would not listen to, girls that came from very tough times in tough neighborhoods, in many instances.”
Avenatti then addressed the “enablers” of Kelly, which he described as the agents, managers and attorneys, saying they “stood idly by and turned a blind eye while teenage girls were sexually assaulted for over two decades.”
“I will not rest until each of you is brought to justice,” he said. “Mr. Kelly did not do this alone. He did so with the assistance of all of these folks and it was all in the interest of money.”
Regarding the charges Kelly currently faces, Avenatti said he is “highly confident that Mr. Kelly will be convicted.”
“I am convinced that he will be convicted in other jurisdictions as well, and he will rightfully die in a prison somewhere whether it be in Illinois or elsewhere in America,” he added. “He should never walk free another day in his life as a result of the over two decades of abuse that he dished out and participated in time and time again.”
Since Kelly is facing charges of criminal sexual abuse, which is a Class 2 felony, he could be sentenced to three to seven years per charge with possible probation.
According to the Associated Press, a no-bail arrest warrant has been issued for Kelly. “We anticipate [Kelly] will appear in bond court tomorrow [Saturday] afternoon,” Foxx said at the conclusion of her press conference announcing the charges against Kelly on Friday.
Kelly’s lawyer previously addressed Avenatti’s claims of a sex tape earlier this month in a lengthy statement provided to PEOPLE, reproduced here in part.
“This morning I woke up to reports that a video had surfaced showing R Kelly allegedly with an underage girl. The reports were prompted from a tweet by Michael Avenatti, who himself was the subject of unfavorable news articles just yesterday. Timing is everything,” the statement read.
“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 doubt if either would put themselves in that position. That combined with the other facts that I know lead me to question the reports.”
Greenberg continued, “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. He would like to be able to continue to write and sing and produce and perform. … We will have no further comment. Thanks to all his fans and their support.”
Kelly’s alleged behavior came to the media forefront again in July 2017, when BuzzFeed published a bombshell report accusing the star of running a “sex cult” out of his Chicago and Atlanta-area homes.
The star was reported to have seduced a slew of young women with the promise of helping them kickstart a music career, only to “groom” them into being his personal sex objects for whom he allegedly controlled every aspect of their lives.
Kelly has repeatedly denied all claims against him, though a renewed interest in the allegations emerged earlier this year with the release of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.
“We are proud that Lifetime was able to provide a platform for survivors to be heard,” producers of the documentary told PEOPLE Friday in a statement.
If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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