Nearly a decade since R&B superstar R. Kelly was found “not guilty” of child pornography charges—tied to an alleged videotape recording of the singer-songwriter engaging in sex with an underage girl—a recent story from veteran reporter Jim DeRogatis has been getting a lot of attention over accusations made by the parents of an aspiring singer, 21-year-old Joycelyn Savage, accusing Kelly of being the ringleader of a sex “cult” and holding their daughter against her will.
The following day, TMZ received a short video from Savage insisting that she is not being held against her will and wants her family to stop contacting her.
Since the Buzzfeed article was posted, back on July 17, more than 35,000 people have signed onto an online petition calling on SONY to drop Kelly from its record label.
“It’s time our society stops [R. Kelly’s] cycle of abuse,” the Care2 petition states, propagating the allegations which claim Kelly is in control of several women across the country, who will follow and obey his every command, physically and emotionally. “Despite all of this information being on the public record, Kelly continues to tour, release albums, collaborate with artists like Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga, and be honored at events like BET’s Soul Train Awards. R. Kelly should not profit while he continues to victimize women.”
Apart from the recent claims, Kelly has a history of alleged sexual offenses. First, there was his secret marriage to then 15-year-old protegé, Aaliyah, which was annulled as soon as family members and the press caught wind of the ceremony. Then, a few years later, Tiffany Hawkins would sue Kelly for $10 million dollars, alleging that the singer had sexual relations with her when she was only 15-years-old. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the case was eventually settled out of court for $250,000.
Reporter Jim DeRogatis was working for The Chicago Sun-Times in 2000 when he received an anonymous fax claiming that the musician was under investigation for sex crimes against underage girls.
Two years later, Kelly was indicted, after DeRogatis and editors received a videotape allegedly showing Kelly involved in sexual intercourse and urinating on a minor, according to DeRogatis’ timeline of the trial. DeRogatis and editors, believing that the tape was evidence of a felony and possible child pornography, handed the tape over to Chicago police.
“Sexual predators are a scourge on society,” said former Cook County State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine, when Kelly was first indicted in 2002. “This indictment should send a clear message that illicit acts with minor children will not be tolerated in the community.”
R. Kelly was arrested on child pornography charges in 2002, but he would not see the inside of a courtroom for another six years.
During the 2008 trial, DeRogatis was called to testify by the defense, who were looking for testimony on how he received the tape and the identities of unnamed sources in his story. However, at the advice of his counsel, DeRogatis respectfully declined to answer any questions, as admitting to viewing the tape would be a felony and would land the reporter in a similar legal mess.
After one day of deliberation, jurors acquitted Kelly of all 21 charges against him.
In a recent interview with The Fader, DeRogatis said that Savage’s parents first came to him in early November 2016, after already having no luck with police and lawyers in two different states.
“They went to the media because [they thought] that maybe shining the spotlight on the situation that their daughter allegedly is in, [and] would help to re-establish communications with her,” DeRogatis said.
“The recording studio that we’re writing about in the BuzzFeed article is half a block from where the stage was set up in Union Park when he headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2013. You had 30,000 craft beer drinking, bearded hipsters, and half a mile away lived one of the girls who filed a lawsuit against him, which remains public record. He had a sexual relationship with her from 14 to 16 and she slit her wrists and tried to kill herself after that relationship ended. This is in the middle of that community. They’re supposed to know better.”
Buzzfeed would also reach out to 43 of R. Kelly’s current and former collaborators to see if they would ever consider working with him again. Representatives for all 43 either did not respond or their clients were unavailable.
However, according to an unverified newsletter sent from Lady Gaga’s “Lil Monster Army” fan club on Aug. 1, the pop star may have her own regrets about working with Kelly in the past.
According to the e-mail, Gaga stated, “I am a victim of sexual assault and I refuse to be silent about it. Please don’t hold my song and video for ‘Do What U Want‘ against me. I had no idea he sexually assaulted African-American girls. I am also a supporter of Black Lives Matter. My manager made me collaborate with him at the time and I had no choice. It was a mistake that I truly regret.”
Gaga has publically spoken out about being assaulted before, and even helped raise awareness for the victims of sexual assault with her shockingly graphic music video for her track, “Till It Happens To You.”
R. Kelly teamed up with Lady Gaga in 2014, to shoot a music video with controversial photographer Terry Richardson that drew a lot of media attention for featuring a scene which some inferred may condone rape.
The video, which, according to The Independent, was later scrapped by the songstress, featured Kelly as a predatory doctor, who tells his patient, played by Gaga, “I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.”
Richardson faced similar allegations from models who claim the photographer coerced them into having sex. However, he denies these claims, telling The Independent that the explicit acts were “people collaborating and exploring sexuality and taking pictures.”
Although it is unclear if Gaga truly issued the statement, it isn’t far-fetched to think the pop star could be remorseful for having collaborated with an alleged sex offender.
In light of the recent “sex cult” allegations, Kelly has reportedly hired Monique Pressley, according to The Daily Mail.
Pressley had previously represented Bill Cosby, before stepping down from his case in August. It is unclear, as of press time, how the claims of Savage’s parents will substantiate in the court.