CHICAGO — Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti said Monday that R&B singer R. Kelly paid $2 million to keep the alleged victim in a child pornography case off the witness stand during a 2008 trial that ended with his acquittal on all charges.
"I'd be very surprised if Mr. Kelly ever sees the light of day again outside of federal custody at this point in his life," he said.
At a news conference at the Four Seasons Monday in Chicago, Avenatti said the R&B singer "bought his acquittal." The attorney provided details of what he said has been a yearslong effort by Kelly to prevent his sexual abuse of several girls from becoming public. He said Kelly paid at least one associate $100,000 to hunt down videos of him having sex with a minor that had gone missing.
Avenatti said he represents three alleged victims, three parents of victims and three associates of Kelly that he called "whistleblowers."
"The video tapes don't lie. Dozens of witnesses don't lie," he said. "These whistleblowers don't lie."
Avenatti's comments come just days after federal prosecutors announced they'd indicted Kelly in New York and Chicago on charges that he and his entourage recruited girls and young women to engage in illegal sexual activity and covered it up by paying and threatening witnesses and victims.
The 52-year-old Kelly was arrested and remains in federal custody. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a bond hearing, during which prosecutors are expected to argue that he should remain locked up because he is both dangerous and a flight risk. His attorney has denied the allegations.
Much of what Avenatti said Monday had already been outlined in the indictments in more general terms.
Avenatti said two associates of Kelly turned tapes of the singer having sex with minors over to him, and that he turned them over to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office earlier this year. He said Foxx's office turned those tapes over to federal prosecutors. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago declined comment.
While the two new tapes purportedly show Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl, there are also new victims and girls who were not part of Kelly's 2008 trial.
"So even though the one is the same girl, it’s not double jeopardy. There are other minors involved. There are new tapes. It is not old news," Jim Derogatis, a reporter who covered the Kelly trial, said.
Kelly's attorney, Steven Greenberg, said he's hopeful the singer will be released from jail Tuesday.
"He’s obviously not a flight risk," Greenberg said. "Everyone has known these charges are coming and he hasn’t fled.”
While 10 girls are mentioned in the recent indictments, Avenatti said there are at least 14 victims — girls from rough neighborhoods in Chicago who were easily preyed upon for the last 30 years.
"To those R. Kelly fans who want to talk about the 2008 trial and the fact that he was acquitted, it was bogus. R. Kelly bought his acquittal," Avenatti said.
Avenatti also said girls were abused in Florida and Indiana in addition to New York and Chicago. He expects more charges to be announced at some point against other members of Kelly’s entourage.
Avenatti faces his own mounting legal problems. The one-time lawyer for Stormy Daniels — who says President Donald Trump tried to pay her off after she had a sexual encounter with him before he became president — has been charged both in California and New York with stealing money from clients and attempting to extort money from sportswear maker Nike.