Sparkle, a rap protégé of R Kelly, claims the girl is her niece...

SPARKLE, a little-known rap protégé of R&B star R Kelly, has claimed that the underage girl he is alleged to be seen having sex with in a video, is her niece, who was 14 years old at the time.

R Kelly is currently under investigation by Chicago police who are still attempting to authenticate the sex tape, which surfaced several months ago. They are also trying to establish if the girl filmed was actually underage. R Kelly has said little about it, except to claim that it is false, and that he is being blackmailed.

According to MTV, Sparkle, who scored a minor hit in 1998 with ‘Be Careful’ said it was she who introduced her niece to R Kelly. She said this took place during a time when other members of her family also had a working relationship with the singer. Sparkle’s brother-in-law played guitar for R Kelly. She claimed that her niece originally met Kelly when she was just 12. Chicago police have confirmed they have had contact with the girl’s family but added “until our investigation is complete, we can’t confirm or deny that [Sparkle is the girl’s aunt].”

Sparkle said she feels she should have looked after her niece better. “I feel responsible for even taking her there… It’s messed up. She’s being exposed to the world. It’s sickening.”

She added that the current investigation into Kelly is only the tip of the iceberg.

“There have been a couple that have come to light that have settled out of court, so that they would not go to criminal court,” she said, referring to Kelly’s settlements with Tracy Sampson and Tiffany Hawkins. “But there are others that haven’t been spoken of that have been possibly paid off… As of today, they’re still investigating the situation. I believe that [the police] have a lot that they are actually going to bring to light.”

Earlier this month, R Kelly settled a civil suit for an undisclosed sum with Sampson, a former record label employee who claimed he had induced her into a sexual relationship when she was 17.

In 1998 he settled with Hawkins for a reported $250,000. She had claimed the singer had sex with her and induced her to have group sex with other teenage girls when she was 15. Two other women, both represented by Sampson’s lawyer Susan E Loggans are set to file similar suits soon.