NEW YORK (Billboard) - R&B star R. Kelly has broken his silence about his recent acquittal on child pornography charges, saying he was betrayed by close associates but hopes to move on with his life.
“If it has had any impact, I would hope it would be a positive impact and I can move on with my life,” Kelly told BET News on Tuesday, after being asked if the trial tarnished his career. “I hope people can give me my life back.”
A jury in Kelly’s Chicago hometown acquitted the singer in June, finding he did not make an explicit videotape showing him having sex with an underage girl who called him “godfather.”
The 26-minute videotape that was the focus of the case featured oral sex, masturbation and other explicit acts and was handed over to police by a Chicago newspaper reporter in 2002. It had circulated widely on the underground video market. If found guilty, he could have faced a 15-year prison term.
Kelly said the people who spoke out against him were disgruntled former employees, including his brother, Carey Kelly. The Kelly sibling claimed that R. Kelly attempted to bribe him if he would say the man in the video was himself and not his famous brother.
“Do not listen to the people that were fired, listen to the facts” said Kelly. “I know people are out to get me because I‘m very vulnerable, especially during a seven-year trial.”
Questioned about his reported fondness for teenage sexual partners, the 41-year-old singer responded, “When you say teenage, how old do you mean? I have some 19-year-old friends, but I don’t like anyone illegal if that’s what we are talking about, underage.”
The singer said he hopes to move forward with his life by continuing to make honest music. “I‘m not going to let this affect my gift,” he said. “I’ve done vintage R. Kelly songs during the trial because I said no matter what, I‘m not going to let this make me run under a rock and not do my job. Some people fall off and I chose not to do that.”
To that end, Kelly is planning an African tour, during which he hopes to do some humanitarian work, and continues to work on a new album, “12 Play 4th Quarter,” a date for which has yet to be confirmed. He topped the U.S. charts last year with his album “Double Up.”