According to a bombshell report from BuzzFeed News reporter Jim DeRogatis published on Monday, three sets of parents are claiming their daughters have been brainwashed, being held against their will in a "cult" by R&B star Robert "R." Kelly. Three former members of the singer's inner circle back-up such accounts and reveal even more disturbing details of actions allegedly perpetrated by the singer with a litany of sex-related criminal accusations launched against him, including child porn charges.
Young women are reportedly being held by Kelly at properties he owns in Atlanta and Chicago. The reports allege that the girls are initially promised help with their music careers before Kelly lures them into an abusive sexual relationship. The singer reportedly video tapes their sexual encounters, forces the girls to call him "daddy" and wear only baggy attire to hide their figures, permits them to communicate via cell phone with only him, and routinely verbally and physically abuses the females, "punishing" them for ridiculous infractions such as laughing at a male cab driver's joke.
The young women are all over the age of consent and claim they are not being held against their will by the 50-year-old, asserting that they are in love with the musician.
The mother of one of the alleged victims, going by "J." for reasons on anonymity, told BuzzFeed she initially allowed her daughter to be connected with Kelly backstage at a concert in hopes the star would help launch her 19-year-old daughter's music career. "I was really impressed with him at first, because I have always been an R. Kelly fan," said the mother.
But now, two years later, J. and the girl's father are desperately fighting to get their allegedly abused and "brainwashed" teenager back from Kelly.
“It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” said J. of the last encounter she had with her daughter, which took place in December 2016. “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.”
In January, during a welfare check, the teen told Cook County police officers she was “fine and did not want to be bothered," notes BuzzFeed.
Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee, all former members of Kelly's "inner circle" are backing-up claims launched by the parents. "They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records," says the report.
“R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet,” said McGee. “But Robert is the devil.”
The girls engaging in a relationship with Kelly first believe, "This is R. Kelly, I’m going to live a lavish lifestyle,” explained Mack, a former personal assistant of Kelly's. “No. 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.”
Jones and McGee, women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Kelly, told Buzzfeed the star "controlled their phone and social media use while they were under his roof, and they were not allowed to take photos with Kelly or of the rooms where they were living." BuzzFeed provides more detail:
Mack, Jones, and McGee claim that women who live with Kelly, who he calls his “babies,” are required to call him “Daddy” and must ask his permission to leave the Chicago recording studio or their assigned rooms in the “guest house” Kelly rents near his own rented mansion in suburban Atlanta. A black SUV with a burly driver behind the wheel is almost always parked outside both locations. Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle.
According to Mack, the women held by Kelly have to wear baggy jogging suits because “he doesn’t want their figures to be exposed; he doesn’t want them to look appealing.” When men are in the same room as the young women, the singer “would make the girls turn around and face the wall in their jogging suits because he doesn’t want them to be looked at by anyone else," she recalled.
"If the women break any of Kelly’s 'rules,' Mack and Jones said, he punishes them physically and verbally," reports BuzzFeed. "For example, Jones claimed that Kelly 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. McGee said she never saw Kelly hit anybody, but also said he was running a 'cult' and manipulated her emotionally and sexually."
As noted by Variety, "Kelly has been the target of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct — in 1994, he married singer/protege Aaliyah when she was 15 years old; the marriage was annulled — the 2008 trial dragged on for six-and-a-half years and was further weakened by the judge’s decision to focus solely on the sex tape and to exclude other claims. The BuzzFeed story says 'a dozen or more civil lawsuits' against Kelly were settled out of court with cash payments from Kelly."
A lawyer representing Kelly, Linda Mensch, categorized the accusations from the parents and Kelly insiders as defamatory.
“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 said in statement. “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.”