INTERVIEW: Michael Avenatti speaks to us in detail about the uncovered videotapes showing R. Kelly allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Ever since Surviving R. Kelly aired globally, there has been an increased effort by attorneys and the police to investigate the disgraced singer's decades-old behavior. He may have been found not guilty when he was tried years ago in a similar case, but with the evidence that has been uncovered by Michael Avenatti and his team, there's a high chance that R. Kelly will be going to jail this time around. Avenatti has been one of the most outspoken attorneys during this case, taking to social media to reveal tons of disturbing details from the videotapes he presented to prosecutors. In one of the two tapes, Kelly refers to his sexual partner's body parts as "14-years-old." The girl also repeatedly states her age on camera.
Last week, it was reported that members of the artist's inside circle were assisting him with his predatory behavior, recruiting young girls to join him on the road and things of that nature. Many people found the docu-series about his alleged abuse to be appalling-- and the new information that has come out in the last few weeks only further solidifies that feeling. We spoke with Michael Avenatti over the phone this past weekend, to get his insight on the case. He is representing a number of people who have accused R. Kelly of sexual abuse, including the parents of Azriel Clary.
Read our exclusive interview below.
Michael Avenatti attends Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California -- Phillip Faraone/Getty Images
HotNewHipHop: How are you today?
Michael Avenatti: Good. How are you doing?
Good. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Absolutely, it’s a pleasure.
You’re representing two whistleblowers, two parents and three victims in the R. Kelly case. I wanted to know how it came to be that you were involved in the case.
We were first contacted back in April by one of the clients who asked us to represent her and that’s how we got involved in the case.
Robert Kelly (R. Kelly) poses for a mugshot after his arrest on February 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois -- Chicago Police Department via Getty Images
The two whistleblowers… are those former employees of Mr. Kelly or do they still work with him?
They no longer work with him but they were involved at a very significant level for in excess of a decade with him. They’ve known Mr. Kelly for over 25 years.
You’ve handed two videos now to prosecutors that show R. Kelly allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with minors…
There’s nothing alleged about it. There’s no question that he is engaged on both of these videotapes in sex acts with a 14-year-old girl.
We reported on a few of the details you disclosed about how he repeatedly refers to her body parts as “14-years-old.” Is there anything else that you can tell us about the videos?
I can’t remember as I sit here everything that’s been disclosed but what I can state is that, on these videotapes, he engages in sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by means of anal penetration, vaginal penetration, oral sex, giving and receiving. He urinates on her anus, her vagina, her right breast, her face. He chokes her for a significant period of time on one of the videos. The conduct could be described as nothing short of depraved.
How did you get ahold of these videos?
We uncovered and then recovered these two videotapes during the course of our investigation, which started in April. In February, we obtained the first tape and then the second tape followed. We are currently trying to recover a third tape, which we have become aware of.
Do you know if there are any tapes beyond that?
I don’t know at this point.
Is it clear that the girls in the videos are underage?
It is clear. There’s no question that the victim - it’s one victim in both tapes - and there’s no question that she is 14-years of age in the tapes.
Joycelyn Savage (L) and Azriel Clary arrive for a bond hearing for R&B singer R. Kelly at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on February 23, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois -- Scott Olson/Getty Images
Do you know anything about what’s happening with Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage? They both say that they’re in a consensual relationship with Mr. Kelly. With your insight, do you believe that they’re being held against their will?
I represent Azriel Clary’s parents, Angelo and Alice Clary, and we believe that Ms Clary has undergone significant psychological abuse and manipulation at the hands of R. Kelly, like so many other girls prior to her. I believe that this situation is akin to Stockholm Syndrome as in kidnapping or hostage-taking.
And do you know anything about the alleged sex cult that Kelly has been operating that Azriel Clary has been rumoured to be part of?
I don’t know what exactly is meant by “sex cult” but what I will say is that there’s no question that for over two decades, R. Kelly has engaged in systematic sexual assault of young girls, manipulation of young girls, coupled with utilizing other young girls he has already sexually assaulted and manipulated in order to accomplish bringing a new girl - if you will - into his circle.
There have been reports that members of R. Kelly’s inside circle were assisting him in hiding this type of behaviour…
No question. There’s no question about that. R. Kelly can barely read. He is not capable of engaging in this perverse conduct and sexual assault involving so many victims over a period in excess of twenty years without considerable assistance.
Were they recruiting girls?
Yes, many of them were recruiting girls, they were helping new girls around, they were booking travel for girls, they were lying to the parents and loved ones of girls, they were assisting him in covering up his conduct, destroying evidence, obstructing justice, lying to police. The list goes on and on. You need not look any further than the outrageous statements made by R. Kelly’s manager upon his release from jail on bail where he stated to the press during an interview that the reason that R. Kelly had videotaped himself having sex with 14-year-old girls was so that he would have proof of consent. These guys are so stupid that they don’t understand that a 14-year-old cannot consent to have consensual sex.
R. Kelly (R) and his attorney Steve Greenberg leave Cook County jail after Kelly posted $100 thousand bond on February 25, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois -- Scott Olson/Getty Images
Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s lawyer, has used a similar statement as well. I believe he said that “he’s a rockstar” and doesn’t “need to have non-consensual sex.”
It’s one of the most ludicrous statements that I’ve ever heard made in a case like this, let alone by a lawyer. To suggest that because somebody is famous or a celebrity, they don’t commit sexual assault, or don’t have to commit sexual assault, or can’t commit sexual assault, is outrageous.
What do you think about how Greenberg has handled the case so far?
He’s in way over his head.
Do you know if anybody in R. Kelly's inside circle was involved in any of the sex acts? Are they in any of the videos?
I'm not gonna comment on that.
You’ve said in the past that R. Kelly “won’t survive” these new charges against him. Can you clarify what you mean by that?
I think there’s little question that R. Kelly will be convicted on multiple counts in this indictment. I also envision additional state charges following, whether they be in Illinois or Georgia or elsewhere. I also firmly believe that there will be federal charges related to his sex trafficking and taking underage girls across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual assault.
Do you think that Mr. Kelly will end up in prison for what he’s done?
He will not only end up in prison, he will die in prison, which is a just result in this case after he has engaged in sexual abuse of young girls over a nearly 28-year time period.
Do you think he understands what he’s being accused of?
I think he understands what he’s being accused of but I do not think that he has an appreciation for the level of depravity and criminal conduct that he has engaged in. I believe that R. Kelly is a sociopath - a textbook example of a sociopath - and if he was not musically inclined and very talented, or if these young girls were white girls as opposed to black girls from broken households, in many cases, economically disadvantaged households, then he would have been locked up a long time ago. He preyed on some of the most vulnerable young girls in our society and that’s one of the ways he was able to get away with this.
There are still many people that are supporting him and screaming his name in the streets. What would you say to the fans that believe he’s innocent?
Wake up. Open your eyes and think to yourself, what if these girls were my daughters, my sisters, or girls that I cared about that I’ve known for many years.
It was reported that a woman who works at a daycare posted his $100K bond. What would you say to her?
She doesn’t know the real R. Kelly and if she did, she would have never posted that money.
Thank you very much for speaking with us Mr. Avenatti.
I appreciate the interest. Take care.