R. Kelly is no stranger to controversy and today it’s boiled to scary new levels.
Hailed as R&B’s Piper Piper, a new report claims the singer is leading something altogether more dangerous – a sex cult, in which women are allegedly being held against their will.
The lengthy Buzzfeed feature, which is being touted as an expose, was penned by respected investigative journalist Jim DeRogatis and forms its basis on details accounts from “former members” of the singer’s inner circle. They are Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee.
Shocking on all fronts, the collective claim is that Kelly recruited 6 women to live in his rented properties, where he is in control of all aspects of their lives: “from what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”
Per the ex staff interviews, Kelly has a strict set of “rules” the women have to adhere to (including asking to use the bathroom). If they don’t, physical and verbal punishments are given.
As for titles, he reportedly calls them “babies” and they are to refer to him as “daddy.” While communication is allegedly limited to cell phones he provides.
So who are the women at the centre of the scandal?
They’re described as including a 31-year-old “den mother” who “trained” newcomers on how Kelly liked to be pleasured sexually. Perhaps most disturbing is the assertion that the woman is high-school friends with the woman (then a girl) at the center of Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trail. Said trial saw the star accused of having intercourse with a 14-year-old and recording it. He was acquitted and has consistently maintained his innocence.
Other women are said to include: a 25-year-old who’s been party of Kelly’s entourage for seven years, a 19-year-old model who’s been papped with Kelly in public, and a 26-year-old Atlanta songwriter who began her relationship with the crooner in 2009 (when she was 19). There’s also a singer, aged 18, from Polk County, Florida, who Mack revealed was 50-year-old Kelly’s “favorite.”
The use of the “cult” phrasing comes from the concerned mother, who brought her then 19-year-old daughter to Kelly help boost her career. This despite being well-versed in the backstory surrounding prior allegations. Per the feature, she believed she (together with the girl’s father) would be able to protect her.
Two years on said singer is one of those living with Kelly in an arrangement that her mother believes is actually her “being held against her will.”
In a “desperate fight” to bring her home, she contacted law enforcement. However, that was to no avail, as her daughter is not classed as a missing person. When policed investigated, the singer has told police she is “fine and did not want to be bothered.”
Mom insists otherwise.
Recounting the last time she saw her daughter in December 2016, she said:
“It was as if she was brainwashed. [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. I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”
Two of the ladies interviewed for the feature confirmed that they also has sexual relationships with Kelly.
During said time, they claim to have had limited control over their phones and social media. No pictures of Kelly or his house were permitted allowed with Kelly or any of the rooms in his homes.
Mack specifically added that Kelly would routinely insist the women wear unflattering jogging ensembles because “he doesn’t want their figures to be exposed [or for them to look appealing to others].”
McGee and Jones also claim that Kelly records his sexual activities with the women and shares the videos with men in his inner circle.
Unlike the prior allegations against Kelly (a number of which he settled), this situation – regardless of its validity – is unlikely to lead to anything in the legal arena. Because, as DeRogatis notes, the law allows consenting adults to take part in any relationship they like, no matter how “nontraditional.” What’s more, all the women within Kelly’s alleged “cult” are of legal age.
Still, in the court of public opinion, this is a deafening blow to the star whose career oddly took its biggest hit after he was acquitted in the 2008 trial. [He confusingly achieved some of his most notable hits while the case was on-going.]
This latest report ultimately brings to the surface an uncomfortable narrative Kelly has long been trying to sanitize.
Occurring almost a decade after the most scathing of accusations, it’s effectively introducing a whole new audience to the darker corners of his story.
Add to that DeRogatis’ claims that the star has been quietly settling up to a dozen civil suits – including that of a 17-year-old singer from his circle – and it’s most definitely not a good time to be Robert Kelly.