NEW YORK – Grammy winner R. Kelly, under criminal investigation for allegedly videotaping sex acts with an underage girl, said he is not the man in the X-rated images that have been circulating across the country.
"I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see," said the 33-year-old singer as he denied the allegations in an interview on BET Tonight With Ed Gordon.
"I've done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I'm not a criminal, I'm not a monster," he said.
The singer, known for hits ranging from the gospellike "I Believe I Can Fly" to sexually charged material such as "Bump 'n' Grind," "Feelin' On Yo Booty" and "Your Body's Callin'," has been mired in scandal since allegations surfaced in February that he had taped a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl.
Since then, a tape purportedly showing R. Kelly having sex with a girl, and other sexual encounters with women, have been sold on city streets and on the Internet. The person in the video bears a striking resemblance to Kelly.
Chicago police say they are investigating the allegations involving the 14-year-old.
Rumors that the singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, has had a penchant for young girls have been prevalent since documents revealed he married his former protege, the late singer Aaliyah, when she was just 15 years old. The marriage was later annulled.
In addition, Kelly acknowledges settling two civil lawsuits from women who accused him of having sex with them when they were minors.
A third lawsuit was recently filed by a woman who said Kelly had sex with her when she was a minor and forced her to have an abortion.
While Kelly refused to discuss Aaliyah, he told Gordon that the first two lawsuits had no merit. He said while he knew the women, he had no personal or professional relationships with them and only settled them on the advice of lawyers.
He called the charges in the latest lawsuit, which is pending, "totally false."
And while he had not seen the tapes, he said, "I can say it in all confidence that it's not me because I didn't do it."
However, the singer alluded to other problems in his life, and said he is working with a pastor to help make himself a better person.
"I feel that I need help for that, I'm getting help for that ... I've done a lot of things in my life right now that I'm trying to get help for," Kelly said, without getting into specifics.
Since the allegations surfaced, Kelly's career has suffered. Some have urged a boycott of his music, and his The Best of Both Worlds, a joint project with rapper Jay-Z released after the scandal broke, has been a commercial disappointment.
Kelly, also a producer who has worked with acts such as Celine Dion, Michael and Janet Jackson, and the Isley Brothers, said he was speaking out now because the allegations have become so prevalent. He asked fans to have faith in him and "focus on his music."
As far as his career, he said: "I'm very concerned about my career, but most of all I'm concerned about my life ... I'm trying to protect my life right now."