Sexual assualt allegations are not new for R. Kelly. Like, not at all. He’s been sued for emotional distress, impregnating an underaged woman, violating multiple underaged women and eventually arrested and charged for making child pornography. He also claims in his memoir that he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse for years at the hand of an older woman. You know what they say about those unfortunate cycles.
This week, R. Kelly has been in the news for an alleged ‘cult’ of young aspiring female artists who he’s keeping in his guest homes either against their wills or through emotional and mental manipulation. Buzzfeed originally reported on the story when parents came forward saying that their daughter was one of these victims.
The parents (who the article refers to as J. and Tim) detail how R. Kelly took their 19-year-old daughter under his wing in May 2015 and hasn’t let her go since. She was flown out to Indio, California with J. to talk to Kelly and show him her CD. After the session, he and the teen continued to speak on the phone without the mother’s knowledge. After secretly attending one of Kelly’s shows where, she told her parents and friends, they later had had sex, the young woman started at Georgia Gwinnett College where she was close to Kelly and visited him often. Her roommate noted a physical and emotional change over the next few months and the woman eventually stopped going to classes and responding to her parents’ messages entirely.
In the year following, the parents filed a missing persons report and alerted the FBI and two state police departments that their daughter was being held against her will in a ‘cult-like’ environment. Their daughter was living in R. Kelly’s house and told authorities that she was doing fine and didn’t want to be bothered by her parents. When J. last saw her in December of last year, she noted she seemed like a brainwashed prisoner.
The article also details the stories of two other sets of parents whose daughters have been ‘taken.’ Their stories are similar: young girls looking for guidance and an entry-point into the music industry, who gradually cut off other ties and moved into one of Kelly’s homes.
Buzzfeed also reports that three members of Kelly’s inner circle have corroborated these stories. Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee say that Kelly has six women living in rented houses in Chicago and Atlanta where ‘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.’
These women have Kelly-issued phones with restrictions on whom they can contact, they must ask permission to even move among the rooms of the house, and are punished by Kelly either physically or verbally for violating the strict rules.
The tricky part here is that all of these women are above the age of consent, and technically two consenting adults may engage in whatever relationship they please, no matter how nontraditional or ‘wrong’ by others’ standards. TMZ spoke to 21-year-old Jocelyn Savage who is one of the women living in R. Kelly’s house. She says she is not in a cult and is in a ‘happy place in [her] life… not brainwashed or anything like that.’
Kelly also maintains his innocence for all previous sexual crime allegations and the current cult claims. Through a statement, Kelly’s lawyer says, ‘Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations.’
In this game of he said/she said, Buzzfeed is standing by its reporting. We’re not sure yet what kind of legal action will be taken, if any. As long as these of-age women are saying that they want to be there, there’s not much that can be done legally to change the situation.