CHICAGO (WGCI Fm) - Two-time Grammy winner R. Kelly
is facing scrutiny over allegations that he appears in a sexually explicit videotape with a minor that police say is being sold illegally across the country and on the Internet.
Lawyers for Kelly, 33, whose first name is Robert, have denied the platinum-selling R&B artist is the man on the tape. The Chicago Sun-Times reported in February that it had received the tape anonymously and passed it along to Chicago police.
"The police department is investigating a tape that was given to us by the Sun-Times that involves explicit sexual activity with what appears to be a 14-year-old girl," police spokesman Pat Camden said.
Police would not say whether the man on the tape is Kelly, known for his inspirational hits "I Believe I Can Fly" and "The Greatest," but also raunchy songs such as "Feelin' On Yo Booty," "Bump 'n' Grind" and "Your Body's Callin'."
The sex crimes unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's office also is investigating, spokeswoman Marcy O'Boyle said. She declined further comment.
Sex with someone under 17, the age of consent, is a crime in Illinois.
Chicago music station WGCI-FM said Kelly called the station Thursday after a small group of protesters smashed several of his CDs outside the station's office and called for a boycott of his music.
The station played a tape of the conversation, in which the man identified as Kelly denounced his accusers.
"They're trying to destroy me basically and I know that God has not brought me to this point to have that happen," he said.
WGCI president Marv Dyson said Friday he hadn't decided whether to stop playing Kelly tunes, but that listeners were calling in to support playing the music.
The Rev. Bamani Obadele and other protesters say a boycott shows their concern about the allegations, which have created a buzz among many of Kelly's young fans.
"Until he can come forth and explain to the African-American community with some level of legitimacy why these people are saying this, then we need to boycott his music and not listen to him," said Obadele, who viewed the tape after hearing about it from youngsters at his community center on Chicago's South Side.
Lola Ogunnaike, who wrote about the tape in the cover story in the May issue of Vibe magazine, said the allegations have hurt Kelly's album sales, but that she expected fans would eventually support him. "It think it's going to be hard for fans to get over this, but eventually I think they may because I think you can like the music and not necessarily respect the artist," she said.
This isn't the first time Kelly has been accused of having a relationship with a minor.
Documents show he married the singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15. The marriage apparently took place without her parents' consent and was later annulled. The pair severed their artistic ties and refused to comment about their relationship. Aaliyah died in a plane crash last year.
Kelly has written and produced songs for Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and others, and has performed with Celine Dion .
His most recent album, "The Best of Both Worlds," is a collaboration with multi-platinum rapper Jay-Z. It debuted in second place March 19 with 223,000 sales - much lower than the nearly 500,000 some industry officials had predicted.
No promotions or music videos are planned to promote the record, according to Jana Fleishman, a spokeswoman for Jay-Z's label, Def Jam.
Def Jam blames the sluggish sales on bootlegged copies and a slump in the industry.