R. Kelly has been accused of “brainwashing” at least two aspiring female singers into sexual servitude in his homes in Chicago and Atlanta, Buzzfeed News reports. The investigation spoke to the families of both women, who said that Kelly preyed upon the women using physical and verbal abuse.
The Buzzfeed report alleged that Kelly keeps at least six women, all of legal age, on a pair of his properties. There, he dictates what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep and how they engage in sexual encounters, which he reportedly records. The women must adhere to a certain set of “rules” or face punishment. Kelly allegedly issues the women new cell phones. In many cases, the women have cut off all communication with their families, the report says.
One woman, who was once in Kelly’s entourage confirmed the report. “You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom … [Kelly] is a master at mind control. … He is a puppet master,” she said of the singer. In total, three women who were “former members of Kelly’s inner circle” contributed to the report.
“R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet,” said Asanta McGhee, one of Kelly’s former employees. “But Robert is the devil.” (Kelly’s birth name is Robert Kelly.)
Kelly has not responded to the allegations. His Chicago lawyer Linda Mensch responded to Buzzfeed in an email, writing, “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.”
Kelly has a history of alleged sexual misconduct. In 2003, he was arrested for 12 counts of possession of child pornography after police searched his home in Florida. At the time, the singer had already been in four lawsuits in which he was accused of having sex with underage girls. When the pornography case was tried in 2008, Kelly was acquitted on all charges.
The new report details how Kelly preys upon aspiring singers by offering to help them with their careers. What begins as a professional relationship turns sexual over the course of clandestine phone calls and text messages, the report says. Over time, the women end up living in one of Kelly’s homes. In one case, a woman dropped out of a Georgia college and took up residence with other entourage members in Kelly’s suburban Atlanta house.
In the case of two of the families that spoke to Buzzfeed, the women themselves rebuffed multiple “welfare checks” by authorities. Because the young women are over the age of consent, the families say they are hamstrung in their attempts to reunite with their daughters.