R&B singer-songwriter R. Kelly has once again found himself at the center of a police investigation, following allegations that he’s running a “cult” that is separating children from their families. In a shocking account, two unidentified parents tell BuzzFeed about their two-year-long fight to try and bring their daughter back home.
According to the BuzzFeed story, their 19-year-old daughter first met R. Kelly backstage at a concert in Atlanta, back in 2015, and before long, she was invited to fly out to California on his dime, for his performance at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif.
“In the back of our minds, we were thinking [my daughter] could be around him if I was with her,” her mother said. “It didn’t really hit home. Even with the Aaliyah situation, now that I think about it, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number’… but you don’t think about that. You grew up with the song, and you like the song.”
The parents have not seen their daughter since Dec. 1, 2016. However, because she is over the age of consent and went to live with Kelly on her own volition, she is not technically considered a “missing person,” and claims she is doing fine, despite her parents telling police that she is “being held against her will.”
“It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner—it was horrible,” her mother said. “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.”
But what is perhaps even more disturbing than the “cult”-like behavior, are claims from three of Kelly’s former associates—Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee—which not only provide additional details that support the parents’ claim but further allege R. Kelly of physical and verbal abuse.
All three have stated in the Buzzfeed article, that there are at least six women living in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and Atlanta, whom he controls in every aspect of their lives, from what they eat and how they dress, to when they bathe and how they engage in sexual intercourse, which he also records.
And this is not the first time that someone has accused the musician of sexual misconduct. R. Kelly was previously indicted on charges of child pornography in Chicago, after a video surfaced in 2002 which allegedly show the singer urinating on an underage girl. According to MTV News, additional photos were confiscated from the artist’s house during the time of the first arrest but were discredited from the case, due to a lack of probable cause for the search.
It took almost five years before the case finally went to trial, in 2007, and after less than a day of deliberations, jurors found R. Kelly “not guilty” on all counts.
However, the trial did not include several additional claims that were made by girls or their parents, alleging that he regularly abused his celebrity status in order to pursue illegal relationships with underage girls, which has been the subject of a dozen or so civil lawsuits against Kelly, all of which were settled out of court for undisclosed sums of money.
While this situation has been a nightmare for the parents, it appears that for now, R. Kelly will continue to evade any legal trouble, predominantly due to the fact that the women belonging to his “cult” are over the age of legal consent.
To find out more on the story as it develops, be sure to stay tuned to Salute Magazine.