R. Kelly conducted his first interview since his arrest on sexual abuse charges – and his first interview since the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries – Tuesday with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King. During the interview, Kelly emphatically denied any wrongdoing as well as allegations he had sexual relationships with underage girls, as the charges against him claim. Parts of the 80-minute interview aired on CBS This Morning Wednesday.
“I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive,” Kelly said of the charges and the aftermath of Surviving R. Kelly. The singer appeared agitated at points, yelling directly at the camera and, at one point, standing up out of his chair to claim that he was being persecuted and screaming, “I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it! Y’all just don’t want to believe the truth! You don’t want to believe it!”
When King asked Kelly if he had done anything illegal, Kelly said “absolutely not” and then listed the allegations against him: “Got little girls trapped in the basement, helicopters over my house trying to rescue someone that doesn’t need rescuing because they’re not in my house. Handcuffing people, starving people. I have a harem, what you call it – a cult. I don’t even really know what a cult is. But I know I don’t have one.
“Everybody says something bad about me. Nobody said nothin’ good,” the singer said of Surviving R. Kelly. “They was describing Lucifer. I’m not Lucifer. I’m a man. I make mistakes, but I’m not a devil, and by no means am I a monster.
Kelly blamed social media – where the #MuteRKelly campaign heightened the scrutiny against the singer following Surviving R. Kelly, resulting in the termination of his record contract – on the spread of rumors against him, and then launched into an angry soliloquy where a teary-eyed Kelly stood up and spoke directly at the cameras.
“You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that,” Kelly said. “All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say so and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me, and if you get any traction from that, if you’re able to write a book from that, if you’re able to get a reality show… then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn’t work out, she can come and say the same exact thing.”
Kelly continued, “Use your common sense. Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through – oh right, now I just think I have to be monster, and hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!”
King attempted to calm Kelly down but the singer continued his tirade, “Stop it. You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my fucking life! Y’all killing me with this shit! I gave you 30 years of my fucking career! Thirty years of my career! And y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music! I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it! Y’all just don’t want to believe the truth! You don’t want to believe it!”
Michael Avenatti, who represents multiple people involved in the latest legal action against Kelly, responded with a series of tweets that slammed Kelly’s CBS This Morning performance:
Key things we learned from the R. Kelly interview: 1. R Kelly is a much better singer than he is an actor; 2. He is desperate and distraught because he knows he has been caught. 3. He thinks sexual assault of young girls in the “way way past” cannot be charged. 4. He is guilty.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 6, 2019
In a second clip posted on the CBS This Morning Youtube, King asked Kelly about his alleged history of sexual relationships with underage girls and younger women.
“I don’t look at much younger than me. I just look at legal… One might be older than the other. One might be younger than the other, okay? So I just look at legal,” Kelly said.
When King pressed whether Kelly is an older man who loves younger women, Kelly responded, “I’m an older man that loves ALL women.”
As for Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, two women still involved in relationships with the singer, Kelly blamed each woman’s parents for “handing” them over to him.
“What kind of father, what kind of mother, would sell their daughter to a man,” Kelly said. “How come it was okay for me to see them until they wasn’t getting no money from me.”
As for Kelly’s assertion that the Clary family “sold” their daughter to Kelly, the parents responded in a statement via Avenatti:
Below please find a further statement from my clients Alice and Angelo Clary in response to the R. Kelly interview. pic.twitter.com/eg9R7dt0l1
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 6, 2019
Gerald Griggs, an attorney for the Savage family, tweeted, “At no point did the Savages sell #JoycelynSavage to @rkelly. No money was ever requested or given to the Savages. Stop the lies or show the receipts. #RKelly. Tim Savage has never met R Kelly.”
CBS This Morning spoke to Kelly for 80 minutes Tuesday; more from the Kelly interview will air on Thursday’s show, while Clary and Savage’s interview with King will appear on Friday’s show.