Infamous R&B singer has had his fair share of run-ins with the law when it comes to inappropriate sexual acts, from his illegal marriage to the 15-year-old Aaliyah, to the footage that led to the 2008 child pornography trial that eventually ended in a not-guilty verdict.
But now the reporter who helped to spearhead that trial, Chicago journalist Jim DeRogatis, has released a new report on Buzzfeed alleging that former members of R Kelly’s entourage have accused him of imprisoning women in an abusive “cult” – a claim the singer’s lawyers have already denied.
The in-depth investigation alleges that women have been “brainwashed” by Kelly, and details a long list of accusations, ranging from physical and emotional abuse to sexual coercion and acts of physical violence, describing in detail the women who are currently living with the singer, or have recently lived there.
These women are allegedly required to call Kelly “daddy”, and remain in their allocated rooms in a rented house near his Atlanta home, with their whole lives dictated by Kelly and their sexual activities recorded, DeRogatis’ sources allege.
With their phones confiscated, they have no way of getting in touch with anyone outside the homes, DeRogatis claims, and he has spoken with parents who are desperately trying to get their daughters back.
“It was as if she was brainwashed,” says one of the alleged victims’ mothers, who hasn’t seen her daughter since December of last year. “[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible.”
“I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she’s in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her,” she added. “I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults.”
While calls to the house by police have apparently found no cause for concern, the parents have now approached the FBI in the hopes of taking the investigation further.
“It’s not about my daughter, per se. It’s about all the girls,” they say. “It’s about my daughter, and I understand that. But the abuse that my daughter is actually enduring, nobody should go through.”
It’s an astounding report, on the heels of years of accusations leveled at the ’90s star for his sexual misconduct, but his representatives deny any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Linda Mensch, responded to the accusations with a fierce denial, along with her response published in the original report, which labeled the accusations as the “price of fame”.
“Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed by the recent revelations attributed to him,” Mensch told TMZ. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such accusations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
“We can only wonder why folks would persist in defaming a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the people in his life,” she also told Buzzfeed. “He works hard to become the best person and artist he can be.
“It is interesting that stories and tales debunked many years ago turn up when his goal is to stop the violence; put down the guns; and embrace peace and love.
“I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.”