R Kelly team claims #MuteRKelly campaign is 'public lynching'

Time's Up movement pledged support for the campaign following sexual misconduct allegations against the R&B singer that span two decades

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 01 May 2018 07:58
R Kelly accused of grooming underage girl as his 'sex pet' by a former girlfriend

R Kelly's representatives have responded to a new campaign to "mute" his music in response to the sexual abuse allegations against him.

The Women of Colour (WOC) group in the Hollywood-based Time's Up movement backed #MuteRKelly this week, which urges labels, businesses, streaming services and music venues to boycott the R&B singer.

A statement from the group - which includes director Ava Duvernay and singer Janelle Monae - called on women to dream of being "free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behaviour".

"We demand appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R Kelly's abuse made by women of colour and their families for over two decades now," the statement read.

It cited the guilty verdict handed to Bill Cosby in his sexual assault retrial as a catalyst for the new campaign. Kelly has denied all allegations of sexual abuse made against him.

In response to #MuteRKelly, Kelly's management issued a statement which called it "unjust and off-target".

"Soon it will become clear Mr Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time," it continued.

"R Kelly's music is a part of American and African American culture that should never - and will never - be silenced.

"Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of this. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture."

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A recent BBC Three documentary, R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes, saw an attempt to break down the alleged "wall of silence" around the singer and allegations of sexual abuse.

It interviewed R Kelly's former girlfriend, Kitti Jones, who claimed at some point during their two-year relationship she was introduced to a girl that Kelly told her he "trained" since she was 14-years-old.

"I saw that she was dressed like me, that she was saying the things I'd say and that her mannerisms were like mine," Ms Jones said. "That's when it clicked in my head that he had been grooming me to become one of his pets. He calls them his pets."

Last year, Jim DeRogatis - a reporter who has been investigating allegations against Kelly for two decades - reported accusations that Kelly held women against their will in an abusive "cult" and spoke to several sets of parents concerned for their daughters' wellbeing.

They accused Kelly of "brainwashing" women in a set-up at a series of rented homes where he controlled what they wore, who they could speak to, and when they could use their phones or visit the bathroom.

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