3/24 -- R. Kelly's request to travel to Dubai looks shaky at best now -- 'cause the Dubai government is coming out strong against the singer, saying he has no business coming there ... at least as far as they're concerned. The Dubai Media Office issued a statement Sunday, denying R. Kelly's claims that he might need to fly there for potential gigs ... with the agency saying there were no planned concerts for R. Kelly that the government was aware of.
The DMO also shot down claims by R. Kelly's legal team that he had plans to meet the sheikhdom's ruling Al Maktoum family ... calling BS and saying, "Authorities in Dubai have not received any request for a performance by singer R. Kelly nor are there any venues that have been booked."
R. Kelly was a sexual deviant who wouldn't take no for an answer ... so claims his former hairdresser who spoke publicly for the first time about the alleged sexual assault.
Lanita Carter -- a woman ID'd as "L.C." in the 10-count indictment against Kelly -- says he pounced on her after she denied his request for a head massage. Lanita described the alleged attack, from February 18, 2003, telling "CBS This Morning" the singer was undeterred when she told him she doesn't do massages.
She said, "He pulled my braid down by him. And he say, 'Suck it for daddy, suck it for daddy.' And I said, 'No.'" Lanita claims Kelly then began spitting, several times.
After the incident, she says she immediately went to police ... and claims officers found semen on her shirt. Although no charges were filed, she ultimately settled a lawsuit against him for $650k. She claims she got another $100k from Kelly when he released a 2009 track about having sex with a woman who braids his hair.
Kelly's attorney, Steven Greenberg, shortly after Carter's interview told TMZ ... "Chicago police did an extensive investigation. The State's Attorney's office decided not to charge up. I think that speaks volumes about the strength of the case. And that decision was made not withstanding the scientific testing."
Greenberg adds, "The experienced prosecutors concluded that they could not prove a crime had occurred so they did not bring charges. Nothing has changed except pressure from her lawyer [Michael] (Avenatti)."
Jussie Smollett getting off scot-free is bad news for R. Kelly, because prosecutors might be itching for a big win ...
"I think it makes it more difficult for a friendly disposition because they’re going to be extremely reluctant to admit they brought these cases with scant evidence or that there are any other problems."
Greenberg adds State's Attorney Kim Foxx and her team may now view Kelly's case as a chance to redeem themselves
It's worth noting -- Foxx seemed much more committed to prosecuting Kelly than Smollett. Remember, she held a news conference in early January before charges were filed, urging victims to come forward. By contrast, Foxx "colloquially recused" herself from Jussie's case after she'd admitted to communicating with Smollett's family via an Obama contact.
R. Kelly is trying to get some cash in the bank, but before what seems to be one of his first paid events in a while ... he's already getting ahead of potentially bad optics.
The embattled R&B singer took to Instagram Saturday to record a video of himself in front of what appears to be his Trump Tower residence in Chicago. He says he's gonna be at an event tonight in Springfield, IL ... one that's gonna line his pockets, apparently.
R. Kelly asks the media for a big favor -- to "take it easy" on him, as this is one of the few ways he can make money at the moment. In the clip, he says if and when the media sees him in the club with a couple drinks in his hand -- which presumably means photos or video of this will be leaked at some point -- just know he's only there to collect a check.
Prosecutors frantically look to interview Kelly's associates in connection with their sex trafficking investigation.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois this week contacted parties closely associated with Kelly. We're told there was a sense of urgency to the calls ... prosecutors wanted to speak to them ASAP.
there are 2 separate U.S. Attorney probes into Kelly -- one by the Eastern District of NY and another by the Southern District. Our sources tell us the Northern District of Illinois' investigation is unrelated to either of those other cases. This appears to be a third and entirely separate case that Illinois is building against Kelly.
Homeland Security is also looking into possible human trafficking ... so things are really piling on for Kelly.
R. Kelly's legal team thinks Kim Foxx calling the singer a "pedophile" before he's even been given a fair trial is a clear look into how her office is run ... totally dysfunctional.
Kelly's attorney, Steven Greenberg, tells TMZ ... Foxx's texts to a fellow staffer -- in which she implicitly referred to his client as a pedo in comparing his case to Jussie Smollett's -- was outrageous, considering Kelly hasn't been convicted of any such crime.
Greenberg says Foxx is letting her personal biases color the way she characterizes Kelly's case -- which she implied was a way bigger deal than Jussie's in her correspondence that was made public Tuesday.
Michael Avenatti has waded into the Jussie Smollett drama down in Chicago, saying he almost got directly involved when the case was at its peak in February. Avenatti explains -- in a statement he posted and then deleted from Twitter -- that counsel for the Osundairo brothers reached out to him to see if he could potentially help 'em out.
Avenatti says he ultimately declined, but along the way ... he says he reached out to Kim Foxx to give her a heads-up about his possible involvement as a courtesy. He insists there's nothing improper about this, as he claims it's routine.
There's more -- Avenatti goes on to slam R. Kelly's attorney, Steven Greenberg, saying SG is trying to muck up the Kelly case by personally attacking Avenatti over his own legal woes. What's more, Avenatti says Greenberg is "attempting to create a smokescreen to distract away from the mountain of evidence" Avenatti claims the Cook County State Attorney has against the singer to prove he abused underage girls.
Avenatti says the evidence will speak for itself, adding that he hopes Kim Foxx and co. will bring justice to Kelly's alleged victims. He goes further in praising her, saying she and her staff are "extremely professional, unbiased and focused on the delivery of justice."
It's almost a word-for-word counter to Greenberg's claim that Foxx's office is barely functioning in chaos in the ongoing fallout of the since-dismissed Jussie case.
R. Kelly was so "overwhelmed" with his legal woes, he had no idea what the hell he was reading after he was served papers while in jail ... much less know how to handle it in court and that's why he lost his sexual abuse case ... so claims his lawyer who is fighting to undo the legal defeat.
Somehow, Williams served Kelly while he was in jail for failing to pay child support ... this according to Kelly's civil attorney, Brian Nix, who tells TMZ ... "R. Kelly was served while incarcerated on the child support case and he was overwhelmed by the experience of being in jail." When Kelly failed to appear for a hearing, Williams won a default judgment against the singer.
Nix says, "[Being overwhelmed] coupled with Mr. Kelly not being cognizant of what the motion fully meant led to him missing the hearing. I had no idea he had been served." There's a hearing set for next month to determine damages.
R. Kelly's legal team has another reason for the judge why it believes the singer's L in his recent sexual abuse civil case shouldn't count ... he can't read.
Kelly "suffers from a learning disability that adversely affects his ability to read," adding ... "in essence he cannot."
Soledad O'Brien, host of Saturday night's Lifetime follow-up to "Surviving R. Kelly," says this docuseries has been groundbreaking for victims who never had a voice.
We got Soledad Friday at LAX ... on the eve her show, "Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact," which not only follows up with the alleged victims but also the defense strategies of the embattled singer.
She says one of the values of her docuseries and others is that victims who had no previous connection are able to find each other and mobilize.
BTW ... more than 26 million people have seen the original series. Soledad's show airs on Lifetime Saturday at 10 PM ET.