NEW YORK – In his first interview since being acquitted of child pornography charges, R. Kelly dismissed allegations that he ever preyed on young girls, telling BET News: "I don't like anyone illegal."
Kelly also said he was relieved when the trial was over, and that his upcoming album would feature less of the sexually charged material that has come to define his multiplatinum career.
"I'm really trying to make this album ... a little bit different," he said in an interview that aired on the network on Tuesday. "Take a little bit of the edge off, you know? And you know, clean up a few lyrics if I can, you know?"
Kelly, 40, was acquitted in Chicago in June of multiple child pornography charges. The verdict ended a six-year saga that began when a videotape surfaced of a man looking like Kelly having sex with a girl believed to be as young as 13. Kelly denied he was the man in the videotape, and the girl in the video never testified.
Kelly spoke to BET's Toure for about a half-hour last week. Though the interview did not specifically address the child pornography charges, Kelly was asked about the perception that he is attracted to young girls (Kelly was married to the late singer Aaliyah when she was 15, but the marriage was quickly annulled).
When asked if he liked teenage girls, Kelly replied: "When you say teenage, how — how old are we talkin' ... 19?"
"I have some 19-year-old friends," he added. "But I don't like anybody illegal, if that's what we're talking about, underage."
Kelly said he was worried that he might be convicted.
"But at the same time I was very prayerful," he said. "Verdict day ... I couldn't describe it and I wouldn't wish it on — if I had a worst enemy, which I don't."
When the innocent verdicts were announced, Kelly said he felt relieved that he would be able to see his three children — two daughters and a son — once again.
"I couldn't wait to get home to hug them and hold them," he said.
Despite the charges Kelly faced, he still managed to maintain one of the most successful careers of any artist, notching several platinum albums and hits during that period. His new album, "12 Play 4th Quarter," is scheduled for the fall.