Announcing that "the cash machine is closed," attorneys for the Grammy-winning R&B star said Monday they're prepared to battle a third civil suit alleging Kelly had sex with an underage girl and then "coerced" her into having an abortion, the Associated Press reports.
"R. Kelly is no angel, but he is no monster, either," lawyer Gerry Margolis told reporters Monday. "This latest suit is a collection of half-truths, distortions and outright lies that we intend to fight and beat."
The 35-year-old singer, who's already settled two civil lawsuits brought against him involving similar allegations, denied ever having intercourse with 20-year-old Patrice Jones. She claims in her lawsuit that she and Kelly had sex when she was 16.
The suit, filed Monday in Kelly's hometown of Chicago, alleged that the R&B star seduced her into engaging in explicit sex acts with him in several places around town--including ritzy hotels and the famed Chicago Trax recording studio--on an average of two or three times a week between January and August, 1999.
The suit also claims Kelly got her pregnant in June, and by September, successfully pressured her into having an abortion at Family Planning Associates in Chicago, with one of his own assistants accompanying her to the clinic. Jones is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
Kelly's camp rejected the allegations.
"In the past, we've taken the high road with regard to a series of terrible allegations made against Robert," said Margolis. "Rather than going to court to defend him against these charges--a process that would have degraded everyone concerned--we decided to settle the cases quietly."
But, he added, "people seem to have gotten the idea that R. Kelly is some sort of walking ATM they can hit up for cash simply by threatening to sue him."
While his legal team believes he can fight, the real question may be whether Kelly will go all the way and allow such torrid allegations to be a matter of public record.
Just last month, he reached an undisclosed deal with Tracy Sampson, who accused Kelly of seducing her when she was a 17-year-old intern at Epic Records. In 1998, he paid a reported $250,000 to Tiffany Hawkins, who claimed Kelly had intercourse with her and talked her into participating in an orgy with other teenage girls when she was 15.
Kelly's camp has been working overtime on damage control since a videotape allegedly made by the singer surfaced two months ago purportedly showing him engaged in lewd sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl. Kelly's former protégée, Sparkle, who collaborated with the singer on his 1998 hit "Be Careful," told a Los Angeles radio station earlier this month that the tape's purported victim was her now-17-year-old niece.
The sex tape is currently in the hands of Chicago police, who are investigating the matter. No charges have been filed against Kelly.
Kelly, best known for such R&B hits as "Bump 'n Grind," "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Sex Me," has been dogged by controversy as far as back as 1994, when the then 25-year-old heartthrob secretly tied the knot with 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.
Meanwhile, Jones' attorney, Susan Loggans (who also represented the women in the other two civil lawsuits) welcomed the opportunity to meet Kelly in court.
"I think every person has a right to have their day in court," she told the AP. "[Kelly's attorneys] previously made a statement that R. Kelly isn't an ATM, and I think it's sad that that's how he looks at it."