CHICAGO (CBS) — Attorney Michael Avenatti said he has new video evidence proving singer R. Kelly sexually abused an underage girl, and claimed he has given the evidence to Cook County prosecutors.
In a statement Thursday morning, Avenatti said he was hired last April in connection to multiple allegations of Kelly sexually assaulting minors. He said he later recovered a 45-minute VHS tape of Kelly sexually assaulting an underage girl.
Avenatti said the tape is not the same one at the center of the child pornography case against Kelly, which resulted in his acquittal 10 years ago.
“We have provided extensive information, including the videotape described above and witnesses, to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx,” Avenatti stated.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said it could not confirm or deny any investigation.
In an interview Thursday with CBS News, Avenatti said they went through a significant process to authenticate the tape and that throughout the tape, both the female victim and R. Kelly refer to her as being “14 years of age.”
Avenatti says the 45-minute video depicts two different scenes, shot on separate days.
“There is no question that not only could this tape lead to his arrest, it will lead to his arrest and his conviction and incarceration,” Avenatti said. “This is a bombshell of epic proportions. I know that word is overused a lot, but this is the piece of evidence that I think prosecutors have needed for the better part of two decades. In my opinion, it’s over for R. Kelly.”
CNN has reported that they viewed the “new” tape, and it is much clearer.
“It is very clear video, that is quite different from the tape that was being sold back in the 90s and 2000s that was used in the first trial,” one reporter said.
Avenatti claims that Kelly’s voice is identifiable from the tape and so is a mole on his back that was subject of much scrutiny in the case in 2008.
While Avenatti did not say when the alleged incidents were recorded, legal expert Steve Lane said that in the state of Illinois there is no statue of limitations on criminal sexual assault and sexual abuse crimes against children.
The statute for civil cases is 20 years after the victim turns 18. He said victim cooperation is key but not imperative.
“There is other evidence. There may be DNA evidence. There may be photographic evidence. There may be other people besides the victim who might be able to say for instance in this “clear video” that this is the victim, this is the person who is being the complaining witness, whether or not they’re testifying,” Lane said.
Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg responded with a lengthy statement. He said Avenatti was breaking the news Thursday to try to distract from recent unfavorable reports about him.
“The reports were prompted from a tweet by Michael Avenatti, who himself was the subject of unfavorable news articles just yesterday,” he said. “Timing is everything.”
Greenberg says he and Kelly have not been contacted by law enforcement regarding the alleged video and maintains his client is innocent.
He says social media and the documentary have brought up old claims.
“In the age of hashtags we are too quick to rush to judgment because something is associated with a hashtag,” he said. “A hashtag does not make claims credible. Each of the women in that documentary are out for money, whether they have suddenly filed a lawsuit, they have all of a sudden released their own song, or they have written a book.”
Greenberg also thanked Kelly’s fans for their support and said the singer will continue to work on his album.