Already facing criminal charges, R. Kelly has been hit with another civil lawsuit.
A private detective from Kansas City is suing the R&B singer, claiming that the singer hired him to locate a stolen videotape and didn't pay up in full. Charles Freeman filed his breach of contract suit on July 12 in a Jackson County Circuit Court in Missouri. He's seeking $75,000 in damages.
Last month, the singer pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a videotape which Chicago police and Cook County, Illinois, prosecutors say depicts the singer having sex with a 14-year-old girl (see "R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty To Child Pornography Charges").
Freeman's suit claims Kelly hired him via private detective Jack Palladino last August and agreed to pay him $100,000 plus up to $40,000 in expenses to recover the stolen videotape, described in a contract as a performance tape.
Palladino's office, which has been working with Kelly on various sex tape and bootleg issues (see "Girl In Alleged R. Kelly Tape Said To Be 14-Year-Old Niece Of Singer Sparkle"), would neither confirm nor deny Freeman's employment, saying, "That's not information we could or would give out."
According to their contract, Palladino hired Freeman on August 21, 2001, and gave him until August 23 to recover and return the sole copy of the tape. At this point, Freeman was to submit to a polygraph test to attest that "the stolen items he has recovered and will be turning over are all the material that exists, and that he knows of no other copies (whether in whole or in part) in any form." The contract also had one more condition that Freeman was to keep all information about the recovered tape confidential.
Freeman recovered the tape, his lawsuit contends, and passed the polygraph. He was then paid $65,000, he claims, and was told that the remainder of his fee would be forthcoming.
Kelly's camp, meanwhile, said that the singer plans to defend himself vigorously against this latest lawsuit. "We're confident that when the facts come out," Kelly's spokesperson Allan Mayer said, "the suit will be shown to have no merit."
R. Kelly has been hit with four additional civil suits, the most recent of which involved a woman who claimed she was the subject of a sex tape which made its way into the bootleg market (see "R. Kelly Sued By Woman Claiming To Be Sex Tape Subject"). The basis of the other three lawsuits involved accusations that he took advantage of minors and engaged in criminal sexual conduct. Two of those lawsuits were settled out of court, while a third is still pending (see "R. Kelly Sued By Woman Claiming Singer Impregnated Her When She Was 17").
For a feature interview with R. Kelly discussing the charges against him, see "R. Kelly: In His Own Words."
For full coverage of the R. Kelly sex tape scandal, see The R. Kelly Reports.