The lawyer was a highly vocal adversary of Kelly.
Yesterday, news broke that lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested because he attempted to extort over $20 million from Nike. If the attorney's name sounds familiar, it's because he's been a vocal adversary of the singer, speaking on behalf of many of Kelly's alleged victims. Following Kelly's interview with Gayle King, Avenatti tweeted, "Watch this please. Importantly, R. Kelly does NOT deny sexually assaulting underage girls. In fact, [his] answer demonstrates his guilt. He fails to understand that it doesn’t matter “how long ago” it happened. And he also has no clue as to how 'double jeopardy' works."
Earlier this month, Avenatti took the time to speak with us directly for an exclusive interview. He told us that he was representing numerous clients, "whistleblowers" in Kelly's case, and detailed what he said were explicit tapes of the singer engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old. "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," Avenatti told us.
An undercover sting involving Nike was conducted and subsequently led to the lawyer's arrest, but the recordings have put his reputation under scrutiny. He told Nike representatives that he uncovered information that stated the company made illegal payments to high school athletes. He also told them that he would need millions of dollars in a "retainer fee" in order to stay hush-hush about his alleged findings. The company worked directly with law enforcement seeing as they felt as if they were being extorted.
On the undercover tapes, Avenatti reportedly tells the company that allegations like these are mostly untrue, but the little bit of truth can hurt them in the long run. “Ninety percent of that is going to be bulls**t because it’s always bulls**t 90 percent of the time, always, whether it’s R. Kelly or Trump, the list goes on and on — but 10 percent of it is actually going to be true, and then what’s going to happen is this is going to snowball.”
Now, R. Kelly supporters see Avenatti's statements and arrest as a victory, using this moment to make claims that the singer is innocent of the sexual assault and child molestation accusations against him. According to The Blast, sources claim that those who have openly spoken out against Kelly or accused him of abuse are being targeted by his supporters. There is a hope, by those who stand behind the singer and think he's not guilty of the charges against him, that everything Avenatti worked on in Kelly's case will be discredited.
Attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents the family of Joycelyn Savage, tells The Blast, “The effect of the arrest of Michael Avenatti for unrelated allegations by the Justice Department is problematic for Mr. Avenatti. However, the effect against the R. Kelly case will be minimal as the ten charges are based on four independent accusers and other information independent of Mr. Avenatti.”
Kelly's attorney Steven Greenberg tossed a little shade Avenatti's way by saying he would represent him “since I hear he needs a good lawyer.” Avenatti posted his $300,000 bond and was released from jail.