Chicago police are investigating whether Kelly, 35, had sex with an underage girl and videotaped it. A 26-minute, 39-second video was anonymously sent to the Chicago Sun-Times last week, allegedly showing the Grammy winner engaged in sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl.
Chicago police would confirm only that they're looking into the matter. "Our special investigations unit has received a videotape that is being investigated," says police department spokesman Patrick Camden.
Illinois state law prohibits adult men from having sex with girls under 17, and it's a felony for anyone to videotape sex with anyone under 18.
Kelly's attorney, John M. Touhy, did not immediately return a call for comment. But he insisted to the Sun-Times that the video is a phony.
"Any tape you have is fake, and we find the timing of these events to be extremely suspicious," he told the Sun-Times.
The unnamed girl, now 17, was reportedly identified by her aunt--who said the video appeared to have been shot about three years ago. The newspaper also cites evidence from the tape itself that it was shot sometime between 1998 and 2000: A TV playing in the background purportedly shows an advertisement for The Money Store (which closed in 2000) and "new" videos from the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, which would have been hits in late 1998 or early 1999.
The Sun-Times reports that the videotape was sent to the newspaper after it published a December 2000 exposé claiming Kelly often used his fame and money to seduce underage women. The paper has chronicled the allegations, which included lawsuits from two Chicago women who claimed they were involved with Kelly while they were underage.
Of course, Kelly's most notable relationship came in 1994, when the then 25-year-old singer secretly (and illegally) married then 15-year-old Aaliyah. Once the late singer's parents found out about the marriage, it was quickly annulled and both artists subsequently refused to comment on it.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Kelly (given name: Robert S. Kelly) has sold more than 20 million albums and picked up three Grammys for his 1999 smash single, "I Believe I Can Fly." More recently, Kelly scored attention for his single from the Ali soundtrack, "The World's Greatest." And just last month, he and rapper Jay-Z announced plans to team up for a tour and album, The Best of Both Worlds, hitting stores in March.
Kelly's lawyer questioned why the allegations would arise right before his scheduled performance at Friday's Winter Olympics.
"Kelly is at the top of his career," Touhy told the Sun-Times. "He has a hit song out right now, he performed at the NFC title game and he's performing at the Olympics. In light of those events, I believe you have to have serious questions in your mind about the motives of people who sent you that forged tape."