CHICAGO (CBS) — Singer R. Kelly is due back in court this morning for a hearing on his sex abuse case, and a judge could rule on his attorneys’ request to preserve all communications between Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti.
Kelly was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in February. The singer has pleaded not guilty.
Last month, Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, accused prosecutors of indicting Kelly only under pressure from Avenatti, who represents at least one of the women Kelly allegedly abused. Avenatti recently was indicted for allegedly trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike.
Greenberg said the evidence he’s seen so far in the case suggests Avenatti bullied or manipulated prosecutors into charging Kelly.
“We know what happened in this case was a result of his pressure, and nothing else,” Greenberg said. “That’s what happened in this case; a rush to judgment, a rush to prosecute, because of pressure all colluded by Michael Avenatti.”
Avenatti said he provided Cook County prosecutors with a 45-minute VHS tape showing Kelly sexually abusing a girl. Eight days later, Kelly was indicted on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, involving four alleged victims, including three underage girls, including one attack allegedly recorded on tape.
Greenberg said he wants to see all communication between Avenatti and Foxx, as well as any witnesses or accusers in the case, leading up to the decision to charge Kelly.
Greenberg filed the motion Monday, a week after Avenatti was arrested on federal charges of extortion, wire fraud, and mail fraud. He also noted Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case after having communication with representatives for Smollett’s family before police accused him of faking a hate crime against himself.
“We’ve already seen that State’s Attorney Foxx has conversations with people about pending cases, pending investigations. I want to know what conversations she had with Avenatti about this case, about these facts, and what occurred,” he said.
Prosecutors have said they already are required to preserve all their communications, but said they have no authority to require police to do so, and noted there could be an issue requiring witnesses or accusers to do so if Avenatti is their attorney.
“The tip of the iceberg is the fact that counsel has already stated that Mr. Avenatti was the attorney for I believe all of these people. So we’re delving into the realm of attorney client privilege,” Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez said at a hearing last month.
However, Greenberg said he only knows of two alleged victims who Avenatti represents.
Based on the evidence he’s seen so far, Greenberg said there are “all sorts of problems” with the case against Kelly.
“When you get in bed with fleas, this is what happens,” Greenberg said.
Specifically, Greenberg said the tape in the case is the same one at the center of the child pornography charges Kelly was acquitted of in 2008.
“There’s no new tape. Avenatti’s full of it when he said there’s a new tape,” he said.
Greenberg claimed charges against Kelly involve old cases that were rejected years ago. He claimed prosecutors only filed the charges Avenatti claimed to have a new tape of Kelly following the release of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which detailed multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse. Greenberg called that documentary a “hatchet job.”
“In 33 years of doing this, I’ve never seen a case where it’s rejected after a full investigation, and then 15-plus years later, without any re-investigation, just because the sort of public perception has turned, that it’s charged,” he said.
Judge Lawrence Flood is expected to rule on Greenberg’s request to preserve all communications between Foxx and Avenatti at Tuesday’s hearing.