Update: A source who claims she was part of R. Kelly's inner circle confirmed details of singer's "manipulative" and "controlling" behavior with young women who live with him, according to Jezebel. According to source, the girls who live with Kelly are all above the legal age of consent.
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 and any communication with their parents is considered a breach of the rules. In some 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.)
Since the original Buzzfeed article was published, a woman who claims she was a former lover and in Kelly's inner circle confirmed many of these details to Jezebel. The source confirmed Kelly subjected "five or six women" to physical, sexual and psychological control, including recording sexual encounters and behavioral restrictions. But since the women are above the age of legal consent (two are 18 and 19, while the others in their early to mid-20s) she says, technically, "they can leave." Similar to the Buzzfeed report, the source likens the girls' relationships with Kelly to that of a cult. "It was like witnessing Stockholm Syndrome," she said. "All these girls are so nice and trusting and young."
In one anecdote illustrating Kelly's alleged "super possessiveness," the source said: "When we're out, we’re not allowed to look at anyone ... We have to keep our heads down. If we're back in his studio sitting on the couches and he has friends across the room at the bar, we can't look at each other or communicate with each other ... "If we’re in an Uber and we chat up the driver we're supposed to tell [Kelly] this girl did this or that. He's very controlling and manipulative. He likes to be in control."
A representative for Kelly's attorney denied that the women are kept against their will in Kelly's properties, saying to Jezebel, "Anyone who is involved with Mr. Kelly is free to come and go and communicate and eat and sleep when and where and how they please ... Mr. Kelly is an upstanding human being."
Kelly's lawyer Linda Mensch responded to the original Buzzfeed report 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.
“I have not talked to my daughter in more than a year,” one mother said. “We’ve had deaths in the family, birthdays, and I haven’t heard from her and she hasn’t been here for any of it. I didn’t even hear from her on Mother’s Day. All I want to do is bring her home.”