Early Monday Buzzfeed News released a report that R. Kelly is holding six women against their will in compounds he owns, controlling their every behavior, which has parents labeling it an abusive sex cult. The problem is they are of the legal consenting age and have repeated to police they stay there of their own free will. With the girls all at least being 18 years old, police can’t do anything.
The parents of the alleged victims are fighting back in an effort to bring their daughters home from R. Kelly’s “brainwashed” environment.
As one woman, going by “J” to protect her identity, characterized her daughter’s alleged relationship, “[She] looked like a prisoner—it was horrible. I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she’s in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her. I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”
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To various degrees, these girls were hooked with promises of music careers by R. Kelly. The singer is infamous for his illegal marriage to a then 15-year-old Aaliyah, who he mentored. His allure has one girl only contacting her parents twice over brief text messages over the course of two years. According to the Buzzfeed report, Kelly demands the girls hand over their phones and he replaces them with devices they can only use to contact him. If they are to contact someone else using the new phone, they need Kelly’s approval.
Further accounts from Kelly’s former inner circle tells how Kelly “controls every aspect” of the girls’ lives. This includes telling what they eat, what they wear, “how they engage in sexual encounters,” the latter of which Kelly allegedly records to play back to his friends. If any of Kelly’s “house rules” are broken, the girls are swiftly punished. “R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet,” said Asante McGee, who is among Kelly’s former inner circle. “But Robert is the devil.”
Kelly was acquitted back in 2008 on 14 child pornography accounts, a case that took six years to see trial. Linda Mensch is a civil rights attorney who represents Kelly, and gave the following statement to Buzzfeed: “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,” Mensch wrote. “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. Please respect that.”