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R. Kelly Is Reportedly Recruiting Young Women For A “Sexual Cult” Under The Guise Of Music Mentorship

Several of the women’s family members have come forward.

A report from Buzzfeed claims that R&B artist R. Kelly has brought multiple young women into what their parents describe as a “sexual cult.” It reportedly all began under the pretense of advancing their music careers before devolving into a series of abusive and controlling relationships with vulnerable young women chasing dreams of stardom.

Parents of these young women, along with three women formerly in Kelly’s inner circle, have come forward to discuss the allegations against him and their involvement with the artist. Jim DeRogatis, the journalist who published the report with Buzzfeed, has been following allegations surrounding R. Kelly since the late 1990s. A 2013 interview with DeRogatis for The Village Voice gave new light to the charges filed against the singer/songwriter and explicitly detailed the allegations against Kelly over the years.

Today’s Buzzfeed report includes accounts from the parents of two women—J. and Tim from Georgia and Theresa and Angelo from Florida (the alleged victim’s full name and her parents' last name have been changed for privacy purposes). Instead of moving their daughters' careers forward, Kelly has reportedly housed the women in Georgia and Illinois, controlling, abusing, and engaging in sexual acts with them that he videotapes and shares with friends. The three individuals who used to work closely with Kelly—Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee—confirmed that he had six women living on one of his Chicago properties last summer. They gave a detailed report of five of them in the report, one of which is an Atlanta-based songwriter and another, an 18-year-old singer from Polk County, Florida.

Kelly allegedly imposes strict rules the women must follow, otherwise he punishes them verbally and physically. According to the parents named in the report, he keeps the women under close watch and brainwashes them to join the “cult.”

While some of these parents have filed missing reports for their child with local police departments, the women are all over the age of consent in their respective states and say they’re with Kelly of their own free will. No investigation has taken place; police have carried out wellness checks on several of the women, but nothing has led to any charges being filed. According to Billboard, police records from Cook County, Ill. on Jan. 30, 2017 indicate that the women “appeared to be in good health with no visible injuries or markings.”

Kelly’s relationship with the young women started with music, which is how he convinced both the women and their parents that he would serve as a mentor and provide them with a jump-start for their careers. He reportedly met new women at shows and would invite them backstage to speak privately, as one parent recounts:

When we got to go backstage with Kelly, we stayed there over two hours…One-on-one with just me and my daughter and him. We went back to talk about the music. He listened to her CD. He was going to help her with her CD, and I was really impressed with him at first, because I have always been an Kelly fan.

In a recorded conversations with one aspiring Georgia singer, Kelly quickly moves the exchange away from music and towards sex. The women stayed committed to the idea of potential musical mentorship, even though Kelly’s communication with the women often revolved around sexual activity:

I’m more interested in developing you. Songs are not an issue. We can always do a hit song.

Kelly has not successfully developed a younger female artist since Aaliyah, who he illegally married when she was just 15 years old. A few months before their marriage, she released Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, which he wrote and executive produced.

The mother one of girl said she’s now re-thinking his music and lyrics more generally:

In the back of our minds, we were thinking [my daughter] could be around him if I was with her…It didn’t really hit home. Even with the Aaliyah situation, now that I think about it, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number… but you don’t think about that. You grew up with the song, and you like the song.

Linda Mensch, a Chicago-based civil rights lawyer that represents Kelly, denied the allegations in a statement to Buzzfeed:

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. 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.

Rogatis first received an anonymous fax about Kelly while working at the Chicago Sun-Times in the mid-‘90s. It included names and dates related to a Chicago PD-led investigation into sex crimes surrounding the artist. Shortly after, DeRogatis reported that Kelly was sexually involved with young girls of the ages 14 or 15; this included an account of sexual relationships Kelly had with girls he met at a gospel choir class in Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times was the first to break the story regarding Kelly in 2000.

The publication later received a video of Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl, including potential allegations of him peeing in her mouth. This would become the basis of a court case against him in 2008, where he was eventually acquitted on 14 charges of child pornography. That was the last time Kelly was tried in court, but many girls have come forward to sue him for illegal sexual activity with minors. These cases were reportedly “settled out of court with cash payments from Kelly,” according to Buzzfeed.

Over the next few years, Kelly created multiple hits like “Ignition (Remix)” and started his 33-part visual project, Trapped In The Closet, somewhat overshadowing the first set of allegations. In recent years he has worked with artists like Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Drake. But this latest report is a reminder that many of those early allegations were never fully resolved.

Read the full report on Buzzfeed now.


Image via Mikel Galicia

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