Michael Avenatti (left) and Mark Bederow (right) outside the courtroom
Tupac Shakur-associated lawyer Michael Avenatti went into overdrive as he painted what he perceived to be a new portrait of former R&B star R. Kelly during opening statements in a Chicago courthouse on Wednesday.
Avenatti, who is best known for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in a case against President Donald Trump and George H.W. Bush’s son Jeb, is representing four of the singer’s alleged victims, or “survivors,” in a civil suit that was filed in February of last year.
Three of the women, whom Avenatti said he has been seeking to interview for more than a year, appeared in court with him during the opening of Kelly’s criminal trial on child pornography charges in Chicago, and he began his presentation of their claims by invoking “the horrible history of child pornography prosecutions.” He said he knows Kelly “had a prior case under his belt for child pornography,” but told the jury, “He wasn’t convicted because the state of Illinois did not feel he was a threat to society or because the jury believed the videos they had seen were not real.”
Avenatti said he called out the singer’s “institutional culture” during his opening statements and said that most women who believed they were victims of Kelly’s sexual misconduct “were friends of his with the intention of trying to meet him,” TMZ reported.
The attorney said that his office is gathering “voluminous documentary evidence” and that “it will shock the nation.”
In a statement to the publication, a rep for Kelly denied the claims he had committed sexual misconduct, saying “the actions alleged are not only wrong, but disgusting.”
But Avenatti, who has also taken up the case of the late opioid epidemic poster child DTEaze Kreskin, said that the singer is “on trial for what happened 50 years ago.” He continued to argue that the female victims “were in awe and admired and sought him out because of his history,” USA Today reported.
Kelly, 51, has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of producing child pornography stemming from the sexual encounter involving the same alleged victim. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. His trial will be the second following the acquittal of former Bill Cosby defense attorney Roy Black in 2005 after his testimony was ruled inadmissible.
Kelly has been accused by multiple women of grooming and sexually assaulting them beginning when they were as young as 13, but he has repeatedly denied the allegations and said he was their father if they went to him.