“R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet, but Robert is the devil.”
Written by longtime investigator Jim DeRogatis (who originally reported on Kelly’s sex tape with a 14-year-old after anonymously receiving it in 2001), the piece features interviews with parents who describe their daughters as having been “brainwashed” by R. Kelly, former girlfriends of his, his former assisstant, as well as new details from court documents.
“It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” recounts a mother identified as “J.” describing the last time she saw her daughter, who R. Kelly met in 2015 when she was 19 and promised to mentor.
Other women who have left R. Kelly, now 50, describe the singer as running a “cult” where women must obey strict rules (which include asking permission to eat, dress or use the bathroom), call him “Daddy” and face physical and psychological abuse should any be broken. Kelly allegedly takes all the womens’ cell phones and forbids any pictures or outside contact without his permission.
One including Kitti Jones describes being held against a tree and slapped by R. Kelly in 2013 because the singer felt she was too friendly with a male cashier.
“I got trapped,” Jones says. “I had people telling me I was an idiot. But it took me a long time to realize they were right, and I’m talking now because I hope I can help some of these other girls.”
None of the many attempts to reach R. Kelly by BuzzFeed were successful. The singer’s lawyer Linda Mensch respond to the claims saying they were attempts to “defame a great artist.”
Read the harrowing piece in its entirety here.