×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Parents Accuse R. Kelly of Holding Their Daughters in Abusive ‘Cult,’ Report Claims

Three sets of parents claim that R&B singer R. Kelly is holding their daughters in an abusive “cult,” according to a 4,800-word BuzzFeed News report published Monday morning (July 17). Three former associates of the singer also spoke with reporter Jim DeRogatis, repeating the parents’ accusations and adding details of their own — one says “he is a master at mind control.”

Over the years Kelly has had multiple accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against him, including a 2008 case where he was acquitted on 14 charges of making child pornography; that case centered around a videotape that prosecutors alleged showed Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. DeRogatis, who received the tape from an anonymous source in 2000 and turned it over to police, wrote the article that launched the investigation.

The new report claims that the young women fell under Kelly’s sway after being brought to him by their parents in an effort to further their musical careers, but that he then “brainwashed” them.

According to parents and the former associates, Kelly:

* keeps several young women at his homes in Atlanta and Chicago;
* replaces their cell phones with ones specifically used to communicate with him and forbids them to contact their families;
* requires they call him “daddy” and ask permission to leave the studio or their residences;
* films their sexual encounters with him;
* abuses them physically and verbally

The report withholds the identities of the young women but claims BuzzFeed News has verified their identities. The three former Kelly associates who support the parents’ claims — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — say that “six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he 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.”

While some of the parents, who have not seen their daughters for many months, have contacted police, the young women claim that they are not being held against their wills.

“[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” one mother said of her daughter in the report. “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.”

The report says that welfare checks by police in both Illinois and Georgia over the past year did not lead to charges, and that one of the young women told police she was “fine and did not want to be bothered.”

While Kelly has been the target of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct — in 1994, he married singer/protege Aaliyah when she was 15 years old; the marriage was annulled — the 2008 trial dragged on for six-and-a-half years and was further weakened by the judge’s decision to focus solely on the sex tape and to exclude other claims. The BuzzFeed story says “a dozen or more civil lawsuits” against Kelly were settled out of court with cash payments from Kelly.

The singer was permitted to tour and record in the years between the sex-tape story’s publication and the 2008 decision — his popular “Trapped in the Closet” video/song series was released during this time — and public interest had largely waned by the time a verdict was reached. Interest revived in 2013 after a Village Voice interview with DeRogatis, but no further action ensued. Kelly has continued to tour and record with less frequency in recent years.

In a 2016 interview with GQ, the singer claimed he had been sexually abused by a relative as a child. He also declined to say whether he was the man in the sex-tape video at the center of the 2008 case.

The BuzzFeed report concludes with a comment from Linda Mensch, a civil lawyer in Chicago who represents Kelly. She and two reps for Kelly had not responded to Variety‘s request for comment at press time.

“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,” Mensch wrote. “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.”

More Music

  • Sonos Q4 Results: Revenue, Losses Grow,

    Sonos Acquires Voice Assistant Startup Snips for $37.5 Million

    Smart speaker maker Sonos is getting ready to take a more active role in voice control: Sonos announced the acquisition of Paris- and Tokyo-based voice assistant startup Snips Wednesday. Snips had been developing a platform to launch dedicated voice assistants for smart speakers and other devices. Sonos spent $37.5 million in cash on the startup, [...]

  • Concert Review: Tool Mesmerizes Brooklyn Crowd

    Concert Review: Tool Mesmerizes Brooklyn Crowd With Immersive Set

    It’s the rare arena-filling band whose singer avoids the center stage and a spotlight for the entire two-hour concert. But Tool are that atypical group who manages to make a show work on their own terms, curating an experience that, on this night, began with a “no photo” policy, skipped one of their most popular [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson to Host

    Jennifer Lopez, Scarlett Johansson to Host 'SNL' in December, Lizzo Set as Musical Guest

    Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson are set to host episodes of “Saturday Night Live” in December. Lopez, who will headline the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show with Shakira and whose performance in the movie “Hustlers” is generating Oscar buzz, will host the Dec. 7 episode with DaBaby making his first appearance on the show as [...]

  • Little Women Movie

    Alexandre Desplat on Pushing the Boundaries With 'Little Women'

    The slate of awards hopefuls is new each year, but there is always a sense of continuity, of new contenders’ connections to the past. For example, Alexandre Desplat, a strong Golden Globes and Oscar possibility this year for his score to Sony’s “Little Women,” can trace the influence of his predecessors on his work. Growing [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen

    No Bruce Springsteen, No Sheryl Crow, No Madonna — Have Grammys Become Ageist?

    For years, the Grammys fielded all-too-familiar accusations over some of the more head-scratching choices. Critics charged them with being out of touch with modern music. Exhibit A, for album of the year: They often turned that contest into a de facto lifetime achievement award, recognizing releases by acts who were in the sunset of their [...]

  • Chelsea Ursin, Host of Dear Young

    'Disgraceland' Host Expands iHeartMedia Partnership With Slate of New Music Podcasts

    Jake Brennan, the creator and host of popular podcast “Disgraceland,” and his business partner Brady Sadler have launched Double Elvis Productions, a new audio-driven media company that will create original entertainment properties. Its initial slate of projects include four music-focused podcasts in partnership with iHeartMedia and as part of iHeartRadio Original Podcasts. The first on deck [...]

  • Aziz Ansari Sexual Misconduct

    Aziz Ansari Scores Grammy Nomination for Best Comedy Album

    Aziz Ansari’s “Right Now” has been nominated for the Grammy Award for best comedy album. He is nominated alongside Dave Chappelle’s “Sticks & Stones,” Jim Gaffigan’s “Quality Time,” Ellen DeGeneres’ “Relatable” and Trevor Noah’s “Son of Patricia.” “Right Now” was directed by Spike Jonze and was released on Netflix in July. News of the nomination [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content