As BuzzFeed News contributor Jim DeRogatis reports, Robert “R.” Kelly is allegedly imprisoning women in a sex “cult.” Kelly has a history of sexual misconduct dating back to his child pornography charges in 2008, which DeRogatis also reported on. Now, a new layer has been added to Kelly’s alleged abusive behavior.
Parents have spoken to police about a “cult” that Kelly is running. The BuzzFeed report details the story of a 19-year-old vocalist from Atlanta who met with Kelly to further her musical career. Her parents met with Kelly as well, thinking that it would be nothing more than a professional relationship.
However, when their daughter told her parents that she was taking a weekend trip to visit a Georgia university, she was actually going to Oklahoma City, where Kelly was performing. Cheryl Mack, Kelly’s former personal assistant, arranged the flight.
This was in June 2015, and since then, the parents’ contact with their daughter has been extremely limited. The mother, who is referred to only as J. in the article in order to protect her privacy, last saw her daughter on Dec. 1, 2016.
J. said that her daughter looked like a “prisoner.” Her daughter repeatedly insisted that she was in love with Kelly and didn’t wish for interference. “It was as if she was brainwashed,” J. said.
J. has reached out to police, saying that her daughter is “being held against her will” in Kelly’s sexual “cult.” However, legally speaking, the FBI do not view J.’s daughter as a missing person. Police say that people of the age of consent may participate in any kind of relationship they choose.
J. and her husband, referred to as Tim in the article, have only received texts from their daughter on Christmas Day and Mother’s Day. “I hate that Christmas has to be this way this year,” the former text read.
Kelly allegedly keeps his prisoners, whom he refers to as his “babies,” in his “guest house” in Duluth, Ga., and his Chicago recording studio. BuzzFeed reports that the women who lived there last summer include:
A 31-year-old “den mother” who “trained” newcomers on how Kelly liked to be pleasured sexually. She had been best friends since high school with the girl in the videotape for which Kelly was tried in 2008. She recently parted ways with Kelly, these sources say.
A 25-year-old woman who also has been part of Kelly’s scene for seven years.
A recent arrival, a 19-year-old model who has been photographed in public with Kelly and named on music gossip websites — a rarity among the women in his circle.
An Atlanta songwriter who began her relationship with Kelly around 2009, when she was 19. (She is now 26.)
And an 18-year-old singer from Polk County, Florida. Mack said the Florida singer is Kelly’s “favorite — his number-one girl.”
Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle, Mack, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, said that Kelly controls every facet of the women’s lives. He dictates “what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records,” they told BuzzFeed.
Mack describes Kelly as “a puppet master,” while McGee says, ”“R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet. But Robert is the devil.”
Mack, Jones and McGee also said that Kelly’s prisoners must refer to him as “Daddy” and are required to ask him for permission to leave the recording studio in Chicago or his mansion in Atlanta’s suburbs. Outside both locations, a black SUV is almost always parked to ensure the women do not try to leave without permission.
Additionally, Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones so they can’t reach out to friends or family. He consistently gives them new cell phones and they are only allowed to contact Kelly or others with his permission. Kelly also films his sexual encounters with the women, then shows these videos to other men in his circle.
Mack told BuzzFeed that Kelly forces the women to wear jogging suits because he “doesn’t want their figures to be exposed.” Mack also said that, when other men are present, Kelly “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.”
Mack and Jones clarified that Kelly has “rules” the women must follow and face punishments (physical or verbal) for not abiding by them. Jones recalled a specific altercation outside of a Subway restaurant when Kelly held her against a tree and slapped her for being too friendly with a male cashier.
Linda Mensch, Kelly’s lawyer, told 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.
For more details on the disturbing allegations against Kelly, find DeRogatis’ report here.