Two sets of parents are accusing R. Kelly of holding their daughters in an abusive “cult,” according to an extensive BuzzFeed News report published on Monday, July 17. Kelly’s former associates also spoke with journalist Jim DeRogatis, who has been covering the R&B singer for nearly two decades.
The report claims that at least six young women, all of legal age, are being held at Kelly’s homes in Atlanta and Chicago after allegedly meeting with him in an attempt to further their music careers. “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,” DeRogatis alleges in his report.
Citing interviews with the 50-year-old singer’s former associates Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, as well as legal documents and recorded phone calls, the report claims the women are punished if they do not adhere to a set of “rules” established by Kelly. The star also allegedly issued the women new cell phones and cut off all communication with their families.
“You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom,” Mack, who worked as Kelly’s personal assistant for a year and a half, alleged. “[Kelly] is a master at mind control. … He is a puppet master.”
Some of the parents have contacted police about the alleged “cult” in attempts to bring their daughters home, but the young women claim that they are not being held against their wills. Police have reportedly conducted welfare checks at both homes, but one of the women told authorities that she was “fine and did not want to be bothered.” No charges have been filed.
“I have not talked to my daughter in more than a year,” one mother told BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Mack, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Kelly before leaving his circle, told the outlet that the musician allegedly tells the women to wear jogging outfits because he “doesn’t want their figures to be exposed; he doesn’t want them to look appealing.”
The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer’s Chicago-based civil lawyer Linda Mensch has released a statement about the allegations. “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 a statement to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Mensch told Us Weekly in a statement that the singer “is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
Kelly’s career has been plagued by sexual misconduct accusations since the ’90s, when he married the late R&B singer Aaliyah when she was 15 years old. He was acquitted on 14 charges of child pornography in 2008 after being accused of recording a sex tape with a 14-year-old girl.
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