Both R. Kelly and one of his alleged victims made statements denying allegations that Kelly is holding several women against their will in an “abusive cult.” The allegations come from a disturbing report published Monday (7/17) on Buzzfeed from veteran music reporter/critic, Jim DeRogatis. In the report, DeRogatis spoke with families of alleged victims and former members of Kelly’s “inner circle.”
Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the parents’ worst fears. They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.
The former members of Kelly’s inner circle provide chilling details about their experiences with life among Kelly’s “babies,” as they say he likes to call the women who live with him, including his control over every aspect of their lives, from what they wore to who they contacted, and even when they used the bathroom.
Mack, Jones, and McGee claim that women who live with Kelly, who he calls his “babies,” are required to call him “Daddy” and must ask his permission to leave the Chicago recording studio or their assigned rooms in the “guest house” Kelly rents near his own rented mansion in suburban Atlanta. A black SUV with a burly driver behind the wheel is almost always parked outside both locations. Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle.
Mack, the star’s former personal assistant, said Kelly almost always tells the women to dress in jogging suits because “he doesn’t want their figures to be exposed; he doesn’t want them to look appealing.” She said when other men are in the same room, Kelly “would make the girls turn around and face the wall in their jogging suits because he doesn’t want them to be looked at by anyone else.”
R Kelly made a statement yesterday in response to these allegations via his attorney Linda Mensch. It reads:
Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.
Jocelyn Savage, one of the women whose parents DeRogatis’ report speaks with, released a video via TMZ denying that she’s being held against her will.
I’m 21, I’m about to be 22 in a few days and I just mainly want to say that I am in a happy place with my life and I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that. It just came to a point where it definitely has got out of hand…I’m totally fine. I’m happy where I’m at and everything is OK with me.
She wouldn’t answer questions about where she was living and if she had roommates, however.
These allegations are the latest in a long history of stories circulating around Kelly. Spinpublished a timeline of his “alleged sexual misconduct,” beginning with his marriage to to the then-15 year old Aaliyah in 1994, and going on to detail various out of court settlements and the infamous “pee tape” in 2002. In 2013, Kelly headlined Pitchfork Festival, and later that year The Village Voice published the full, “stomach churning” accusations against Kelly. In 2015, Kelly stormed out of an interview with Huffington Post after being asked how sexual abuse allegations have affected sales of his latest album, The Buffet.
Jim DeRogatis has reported on allegations against Kelly for 16 years, and spoke with Slateafter the Buzzfeed report was published. In that interview, he speaks about the challenges of getting a story like this one published, and goes back to the 2008 trial when Kelly was acquitted:
…it’s very important to remember that he was acquitted by a jury of his peers but the trial never introduced any of the other evidence—the illegal marriage, the civil lawsuits by young women who said he abused his position and fame and influence to bully them into illegal sexual relationships. The one lawsuit that is mentioned in the story today—that girl slit her wrist after her relationship with Kelly ended. There have been more than a dozen settlements before a suit was ever formally filed. Susan Loggans, the attorney, would just go to Kelly and say, “Here are the accusations from my client,” and he would pay them. This is a pattern of a quarter-century of behavior, in full view of the music industry and entertainment journalism.