#ThemToo: Michael Avenatti Says R. Kelly's Employees and Managers May Also Face 'Criminal Liability'

R&B singer 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. Kelly was being held after turning himself in to face ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse.
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

It was the top of the year 2019, and Surviving R. Kelly evoked an array of emotions from its viewers: sadness, disgust, anger ... to name a few. Other than the ire directed at the self-proclaimed “Pied Piper,” many heavily side-eyed the people in his inner circle. They were complicit, too.

Most notably was Kelly’s former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, who recalled the time Kelly married an underaged Aaliyah and impregnated her, all of which Smith was a firsthand witness to.

Following the release of the highly-charged doc, a lot has happened. In addition to the emergence of newly reported videotapes featuring underaged girls, Kelly is facing 10 counts of aggravated sexual assault, and was recently released on bond, with the (unnecessary) help of a suburban Chicago business owner.

According to Billboard, Michael Avenatti—the lawyer for two of Kelly’s accusers in his current Chicago case—is claiming Kelly’s former employees and managers had a pivotal hand in assisting the 52-year-old singer’s years-long record of alleged sexual abuse, including but not limited to acting as liaison for his access to underaged girls.

Via Billboard:

More than 10 Kelly associates, such as agents and security guards, could be exposed to criminal liability in the Chicago case for staying silent about abuse or actively assisting Kelly, said Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for two Kelly accusers.

In a phone interview, he said Kelly depended heavily on others to target underage girls, to transport them and to pay them off to keep quiet over the years he ascended from busking on Chicago subway platforms to become a best-selling music artist.

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Professionals such as teachers or doctors are required to report suspicions of child sexual abuse, a mandate upheld in all 50 states. However, not all adults are required to do so in every state, and Illinois (where Kelly is a resident) is one of the exempt states. As such, it’s not clear at this point which laws could be invoked in the case of his former and current staff.

On Tuesday, Avenatti noted that the R&B singer “could not have accomplished this for 28 years without the assistance of others who looked the other way because they didn’t want the R. Kelly gravy train to end.”

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There haven’t been any formal charges brought against Kelly’s former or current associates at this time. Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, maintains his client’s innocence.

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Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.