R. Kelly has a disturbingly long record of sexual abuse allegations. From his illegal marriage to Aaliyah to the infamous video of him allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl, the R&B icon’s history is littered with predatory incidents. Now, Jim DeRogatis, the veteran journalist who first broke the news of Kelly’s infamous underage sexual assault tape in 2002, has reported another horrific story claiming Kelly is imprisoning women in multiple states in a sort of sex cult.
DeRogatis’ report for Buzzfeed focuses on two Georgia parents’ quest to free their 19-year-old daughter from Kelly’s clutches. The woman and her mother met the singer backstage at a show in Atlanta in hopes of advancing her own singing and dancing career. However, her parents now say they haven’t seen her since December of 2016 and have been reaching out to the FBI in hopes of finding legal recourse to save their daughter. They’ve received just two text messages from their daughter in that time, one in which she says she wishes she could spend Christmas with them and another reading, “Happy Mother’s Day from me and Rob.”
Part of the accusation involves Kelly giving the 19-year-old — one of six women he reportedly keeps in houses outside Atlanta and Chicago — a new cellphone which he controls, ordering her only to communicate with him and select others with his permission. Three individuals who used to be part of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — corroborated the parents’ story, including that Kelly controls his kept women’s eating habits, attire, bathing and sleep schedules, and how they please him sexually, encounters he records to show the male members of his entourage.
The three sources add that Kelly calls these women his “babies” and requires them to call him “Daddy.” He forces them to face the wall when other men are in the room so no one else will look at them, which is also why he largely has them dress in unflattering tracksuits. If any one of the girls disobeys Kelly’s rules, the punishment is often physical. Jones claimed Kelly once “held her against a tree and slapped her outside of a Subway sandwich shop in spring 2013 because she had been too friendly with the male cashier there.” The summer school roommate of the 19-year-old at the center of the story said she was once told a story about how Kelly had sent a driver to take the Atlanta babies to a club. When one of the Georgia women laughed at one of the male driver’s jokes, another woman in the car texted Kelly about the “violation.” Once at the club, Kelly apparently “bent her over and he whupped her behind…”
The situation is a legally thorny one, as all the women allegedly involved in the sex cult are of legal consenting age — though none are older than 26, and all began their relationships with Kelly at 18 or 19. There was also a 31-year-old “den mother” who was there to train the new girls on how to sexually satisfy Kelly; she was apparently the former best friend of the girl in the child sexual assault tape that led to Kelly’s child porn charges. Reportedly, she is no longer involved in Kelly’s inner circle.
DeRogatis’ report goes into more detail about another young, aspiring singer from Florida who met Kelly when she was just 17 and recently had breast augmentation on his dime, and includes audio recordings of the 19-year-old’s conversations with the singer. Multiple parents have attempted to get law enforcement involved, but so far no major investigation has been undertaken.
The indecent video DeRogatis initially reported on led to Kelly being charged on 14 counts of child pornography in 2008, though he was acquitted on all charges. The singer has also been the target of over a dozen civil lawsuits, all of which were settled out of court for undisclosed cash payments that came with the condition of nondisclosure agreements. Susan E. Loggans, a Chicago attorney, told DeRogatis she’d overseen “numerous” settlement negotiations, including a recent one for a 17-year-old Chicago singer. There have been many other lawsuits, including a 2012 one where dancer Montina Woods claimed Kelly filmed their sexual encounter without her consent. Earlier this year, a sheriff’s deputy in Hinds County, Mississippi filed suit against Kelly for having an affair with his wife, a relationship which included the couple moving to Atlanta under the pretense of advancing the wife’s career and her contracting chlamydia.
In an infamous 2013 interview with Jessica Hooper for The Village Voice, DeRogatis emphasized that he believes Kelly has never been brought to justice because his alleged victims — all of whom he’s paid off with undisclosed, reportedly lucrative settlements — are all young black women. “The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody,” he said, referencing a woman Kelly picked up on her prom night, impregnated, and then forced to get an abortion. He also called on reporters to look deeper into the dozens of rape accusations against Kelly, and for fans to take this history into account when deciding whether to go to his shows or listen to his music.