NEW YORK – R&B superstar R. Kelly, who has been accused of having sex with an underage girl on videotapes that have circulated across the country, denied the allegations in a television interview on Wednesday.
"I've done a lot of wrong things in my life, but I'm not a criminal, I'm not a monster," the 33-year-old said during a taped interview on BET Tonight with Ed Gordon.
The Grammy-winning singer, whose full name is Robert Kelly, is known for inspirational hits such as "I Believe I Can Fly," but also raunchy ones like "Feelin' On Yo Booty." He has kept a low profile since he was accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl and taping it on video.
Videotapes purportedly showing Kelly having sex with the girl, along with other women, have been sold on city streets across the nation, and also on the Internet. The person on the tapes bears a striking resemblance to the singer.
Police in Chicago, where Kelly lives, said they are investigating the allegations.
In addition, Kelly has also settled two lawsuits brought by women who accused him of having sex with them when they were minors. Documents have also shown that Kelly was married to the late singer Aaliyah, his former protege, when she was just 15. The marriage was later annulled.
A third lawsuit was filed recently by a Chicago woman who accused Kelly of impregnating her when she was a teen-ager and forcing her to have an abortion.
Kelly, the married father of two young children, told Gordon he settled the first two lawsuits on advice of lawyers who told him it wasn't worth his time to fight them. While he acknowledges knowing the two women, he said he had no personal or professional relationships with them.
He said the allegations in the third lawsuit were false. And he said he was not the person featured on the videotapes.
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."
"I want America to know that you can't believe everything you hear, and nowadays, you can't believe everything you see," he said.
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.
Gordon also asked Kelly about his marriage to Aaliyah. The pair initially denied it, but later refused to discuss it.
Kelly also declined to talk about it in the interview.
"It has nothing to do with this,'' he said. "I really don't think it's fair to say anything about Aaliyah."
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 commerical 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."