A venue in Germany defended their decision to book R. Kelly for an April concert following the latest string of allegations against the singer, including those that surfaced in Surviving R. Kelly.
Soon after the Lifetime docuseries aired, and RCA quietly parted ways with the singer, Kelly announced (and then deleted) plans to tour Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. While those tour dates still haven’t materialized, tickets are on sale for Kelly concerts in Neu-Ulm, Germany on April 12th and Hamburg, Germany on April 14th.
TMZ reports that demand for the April 12th concert was so great that Kelly actually had to transfer the show from the 7,200-person MHP Arena in Ludwigsburg to the 9,000-capacity Ratiopharm Arena in Neu-Ulm.
The decision to book Kelly in Neu-Ulm caused controversy in the Bavarian city, but a representative for Ratiopharm Arena defended the venue’s decision to host the concert.
“Everyone (in particular: every woman) has the right to personally evaluate the allegations in the room, to form an opinion about R. Kelly and to freely express one’s own opinion – artistically as well as personally, positively as well as negatively, freedom of expression is a high good, and there are at least very serious allegations in the room,” the venue wrote February 6th on Facebook; the statement has been translated from German to English.
“On the other hand, despite thorough research, we have not been able to find any case of allegations in … which such allegations were the subject of judicial determination in a criminal or even civil process.”
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The venue added, “Anyone who personally considers that the presumption of innocence that is valid in the rule of law – for good reasons – is obsolete and that feels called upon to take the place of the rule of law as an instance of social ostracism, is called upon to show caution and restraint. We certainly do not want to presume this competence. This was the ultimate motivation behind our decision, which we did not make easy.”
However, the Ratiopharm Arena statement added that if “new facts” should arise prior to the concert, the venue has made “contractual arrangements” to shut down the gig; the statement was penned prior to reports that a new videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl has surfaced.
Similar efforts have been made to shut down Kelly’s Hamburg gig, but the venue’s operator told the Hamburger Abendblatt that they were “contractually bound and currently sees no legal means to terminate the contract unilaterally,” adding that only the show’s organizer to cancel the performance.
A rep for the Neu-Ulm show sent Rolling Stone the statement originally posted on Facebook. An organizer of the Hamburg show did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Bernstein