On the heels of a bombshell report by BuzzFeed that he runs a “sex cult,” Robert Kelly, the R&B icon better known as R. Kelly, has retained a longtime lawyer to refute the shocking allegations.
That attorney, entertainment and intellectual property expert Linda Mensch, promptly released a statement to “Entertainment Tonight” this week on Kelly’s behalf denying that he has ever held or imprisoned young women against their will at properties he owns in Atlanta and Chicago.
“Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” Mensch said. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
Mensch (pictured right) joined Chicago’s Leavens, Strand & Glover as of counsel in June 2016 after leaving Bryan Cave, where she was of counsel since joining the Am Law 100 firm’s Windy City office in 2010. Her lateral move came a little more than a month after Mensch, Bryan Cave and R. Kelly were hit with a $500,000 suit by Swervo Entertainment Group LLC.
The Minnesota-based promotion company asserted in an eight-page complaint that Mensch wired $500,000 to R. Kelly from a trust account set up for a failed concert tour. Swervo claims that it advanced the sum to the singer to be held in escrow pending completion of the tour. But talks ultimately broke down and Swervo unsuccessfully sought a return of its funds.
Lawyers for Swervo from Chicago’s Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella and Edina, Minnesota-based Hellmuth & Johnson either declined or did not respond to requests for comment on the litigation against the three defendants, which remains pending in a federal court in Chicago. A judge dismissed R. Kelly from the suit in April. On Monday, lawyers from Chicago’s Murphy & Hourihane representing R. Kelly and Mensch responded to a motion from Swervo’s legal team seeking to drag the high-profile entertainer back into the escrow dispute.
Chicago’s Figliulo & Silverman is representing Bryan Cave in the litigation. A Bryan Cave spokesman declined to comment about the Swervo case, Mensch’s departure or whether or not the firm still does work for R. Kelly. (Trademark records show that Manatt, Phelps & Phillips counsel Joan Rochman, who left the firm’s Los Angeles office in June to start her own shop, has handled IP work for R. Kelly.)
Mensch did not return multiple requests for comment about her work for R. Kelly at Bryan Cave and her current firm. She also serves as president of her own corporation, Linda S. Mensch P.C. The longtime entertainment lawyer represents broadcasters and record and commercial music producers, as well as high-profile artists. Last year Mensch’s name appeared on a witness list in a copyright dispute between rock-and-roll legends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant over Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
The BuzzFeed story published this week—written by a reporter who has long covered the singer’s alleged misdeeds—claims that Kelly controls almost every aspect of a select few women’s lives, “dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”
In June 2008, after less than a day of deliberations, a jury acquitted R. Kelly on child pornography charges stemming from a video allegedly showing him having sex with an underage girl. Sam Adam Jr. and Edward Genson, two veteran Chicago trial lawyers, led a high-powered legal team representing the singer in that trial.