R. Kelly’s sex videos have circulated nationwide for years
CGTN

An acquaintance of R. Kelly's recalled how the singer once lugged a duffel bag everywhere - to recording studios, film sets and gyms. Stuffed inside, she said, was a collection of his homemade VHS sex tapes.

Despite Kelly's efforts in the 1990s to hold those recordings close, some leaked out. Untold numbers were copied and recopied and distributed nationwide through flea markets and street vendors. They have circulated for years and are still available on websites. A Pennsylvania man said he recently discovered one while cleaning his home.

Recordings have been integral to Kelly's criminal cases.

A single video was at the heart of his 2008 child pornography trial that ended with Kelly's surprise acquittal. The video is behind some of the sexual abuse charges filed last month accusing the Grammy winner of violating three girls and woman.

A 45-minute video of Kelly having sex with a girl who says on camera that she's 14 helped convince Cook County prosecutors to bring the new case, said Michael Avenatti, who handed the tape to prosecutors just weeks before charges.

In all, over half a dozen videos have been referred to in court testimony or filings, or by journalists and lawyers.

Singer R. Kelly performs onstage during the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, January 25, 2014. /VCG Photo

Singer R. Kelly performs onstage during the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Salute to Industry Icons at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California, January 25, 2014. /VCG Photo

Avenatti, who represents two accusers, said he gave prosecutors two tapes never previously made public, both featuring the same girl spotlighted in the 2008 trial. The second tape - turned over after charges were filed - was a 55-minute video shot sometime between 1999 and 2000. He says he also has a possible third video.

Van Allen, who had an on-and-off affair with Kelly starting in 1997, and said she became disillusioned with Kelly, removed at least one tape with her on it from the bag while Kelly was distracted, the court filings stated.

The only video shown in its entirety in open court was the one entered as "People's Exhibit No. 1" at Kelly's trial. Kelly shot it in a log cabin-themed room at his North Side Chicago home between 1998 and 2000 when the girl was as young as 13, prosecutors said.

A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim DeRogatis, received the tape anonymously in his mailbox in February 2002 and turned it over to law enforcement. Five months later, based on the video, Kelly was charged with child pornography.

Weeks before charges, bootleg copies of the video appeared on street corners across the U.S., the Sun-Times reported. Some pornography websites advertise they have Kelly sex tapes available.

The tapes pose legal risks to anybody who possessed them.

When authorities announced the pornography charges, they issued a warning: Anyone who bought or copied the video could face similar charges. That raised concerns at news organizations that editors and reporters who viewed the tape outside court could be charged.

(Top Photo: R.Kelly attends the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California, November 24, 2013. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): AP