Story highlights R. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg shared his take on the singer’s sex allegations during the attorney’s opening statements.
The docuseries follows the rise of multiple accusers who accuse the singer of sex crimes over the past three decades.
The series delves into allegations of rape, pedophilia and more from multiple women over the past two decades.
In a bombshell opening statement, R. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg revealed that the singer’s alleged victims knew the singer and his entourage, and were fans who were seeking out the singer during the explosive new docuseries, “Surviving R. Kelly.”
“They were fans of the music and sought him out in restaurants and nightclubs,” Greenberg tells CNN’s Zachary Cohen.
Watch the full interview above.
The series, which features seven hours of testimony from 19 women and survivors, delves into allegations of rape, child pornography, sodomy, child molestation and more from multiple women over the past two decades.
The series also includes footage that shows the artist holding young girls (who were allegedly seen in the singer’s video to rap about sex acts against them).
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper pressed Greenberg on Wednesday to comment on these allegations. When asked if he was aware that the women were underage, Greenberg answered: “Yeah, of course, I was aware of this. The problem is, you have to prove that they were in his control, and all the evidence that I’ve seen — and I think it’s pretty damning — suggests that he was not in control.”
A legal expert who has faced off against R. Kelly previously supported Greenberg’s assertion.
“I know of [Greenberg’s] stance that all these people who are accusers, whether they’ve been young, whether they’ve been 18, whether they’re, you know, 15, which appears to be the case with all of the underage girls, they’ve all been fans who sought him out in restaurants and nightclubs,” Joan Ben-Cohen, who has been arguing on the singer’s behalf in court for over two decades, tells CNN. “So I’m sure it was not shocking to him when they showed up at his studio with their cell phones and started filming, but it does not mean that they’re false, it does not mean that he has an interest in their false stories and is somehow guilty of whatever they’re claiming.”
When asked if the singer could have legal problems because he had underage girls at his studio and he’s never been charged with a crime, Greenberg responded: “From my perspective, there has never been a criminal allegation against Mr. Kelly involving underage girls. There was an allegation back in 1999. That was dropped.”
The series has gained a wide audience since it premiered last Thursday. The premiere was met with less than stellar reviews, earning a 19 out of 100 from film critic and CNN commenter Mark Robichaux. Robichaux explained in a posting why he doesn’t buy that the singer is innocent.
But the effect that the documentary is having in different parts of the world has a little more global reach. According to Variety, the premiere was watched by a record 78 million people in China. It also received strong viewership from 52 million people in Canada and 71 million in Australia.
The findings of the series are projected to be a media phenomenon. According to Bloomberg, Us Weekly scored 2.4 million page views, 2.3 million videos and 738,000 tweets with Robichaux’s voice reading his trademark, uber-catchy R. Kelly monologue, “I am the victim here.”
However, while some findings from the docuseries speak volumes and others are suspect, viewers are already left with a different set of impressions on R. Kelly.
“Personally, I think that R. Kelly is the victim here as far as the reputation of who he is goes. What we’re calling is his sex life. We don’t believe there’s anything criminal about it. A human’s sex life is not an offense,” Greenberg said on CNN.
The alleged allegations against R. Kelly come more than two decades after his first sex tape was released in 1999. In response, the singer — who was branded a child-molesting “pimp” after the release of the video — announced that he was quitting music in 2002. But as a result of the 2004 trial and conviction of his former manager and friend Timothy Lawrence, he relaunched his career.
Still, the allegations will certainly cause another round of backlash.
“People have looked at R. Kelly and judged him for all these years,” Greenberg said. “It’s just been the tabloids that have looked at him.”
Still, he reaffirmed that he believes “