R Kelly accused of holding women against their will in abusive 'cult'

Buzzfeed report quotes several sets of parents who say their daughters are staying in properties rented by the R&B singer

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Monday 17 July 2017 16:30
R Kelly performing in 2014
R Kelly performing in 2014

R Kelly has been accused of holding young women against their will in an abusive "cult", with several sets of parents coming forward to speak about the shocking claims.

Three former members of the R&B singer's entourage have also come forward and confirmed the parents' claims of his controlling behaviour.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, one was quoted as saying: "[Kelly] is a master at mind control... He is a puppet master."

According to the parents and former crew members, Kelly - who is currently on a tour of the US - keeps the young women at his rented homes in Atlanta and Chicago, orders them to call him "daddy", films their sexual encounters, and punishes them verbally and physically when they break his "rules".

Asante McGee, a former member of Kelly's inner circle, claimed there are currently six women living in properties rented by Kelly, who 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”.

One set of parents have reportedly attempted to contact their daughter, who is now 21-years-old, for the past two years, but say she has rejected their approaches and claims she is in a consenting relationship.

Another apparently said that their daughter is an aspiring professional singer who met Kelly when she was 17-years-old, who moved into one of his properties when she was over the age of legal consent after meeting him at a concert.

The mother of the aspiring singer said that she believed there was no truth in previous allegations against R. Kelly, who was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008.

"We needed to make sure it was about music, because he was going to mentor her," she said. "And then from there he wanted her to travel with him so she could see how the music game really was."

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Kelly was twice arrested a decade ago over claims he was involved in sexual activity with an underage girl, when no charges were brought. In 2006 he was charged and in 2008 was cleared of 14 counts of videotaping himself having sex with an underage girl.

GQ quoted Kelly in an interview where he said that he had provided financial settlements to others who had accused him of engaging in underage sex. Kelly told the magazine that he was wrong to do so and was only following his lawyer's advice.

He has been accused of mistreating women on multiple occasions, but because of his acquittal and the non-disclosure agreements signed in his settlements, the allegations have had little effect on his career.

His recent work includes a duet with Lady Gaga in 2013, and a performance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in December 2016.

The Buzzfeed report was written by American music critic Jim DeRogatis, a journalist and lecturer who has covered Kelly extensively for almost two decades. He was named as a witness in the 2008 child pornography case of Kelly, after receiving a videotape allegedly featuring R Kelly and a 14-year-old girl, which he turned over to police at the time.

Civil lawyer Linda Mensch, who represents Kelly, told Buzzfeed in response to the allegations that he physically and mentally abuses women: "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 live. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that."

The Independent has contacted Kelly's representatives for comment. Read the full Buzzfeed report here.

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