By Annie Reuter
R. Kelly is once again at the center of a criminal investigation. Several parents of teenage girls have come forward alleging that the R&B singer has brainwashed their daughters. Respected journalist Jim DeRogatis has investigated the charges for Buzzfeed and after interviewing several of the women’s parents and former associates of the 50-year-old singer, he brings the harrowing tale to light.
By interviewing several former members of Kelly’s entourage, the singer is painted as a man who imprisons women in a sex cult, “mentally and sometimes physically abusing them to keep them subservient to him,” DeRogatis writes.
Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee provided vivid details to the journalist which support several parents’ worst fears. According to discussions with DeRogatis, six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs. The singer also 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,” he writes.
One family has not seen their daughter since Dec. 1, 2016. Her mother, not willing to give her full name for the protection of her daughter, said the last time she saw her child it was as if she was brainwashed.
“[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” she 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.”
Kelly allegedly takes the cell phones of these women and tells them that they are only allowed to contact him. Another mother, who is referred to by her middle name to protect her daughter, said that her biggest mistake was that she trusted Kelly when he promised to work with her daughter musically.
“He is a lyrical genius — he is R. Kelly! And the fact is he went to court, he was never found guilty — he was acquitted — and we were led to believe there was no truth in it,” she admits. “Now I got all of these people asking about why my daughter is there, telling me, ‘All of that, the charges against Kelly, was true.’ Well, how come you didn’t tell me that before?”
Linda Mensch, a lawyer who represents the Kelly, responded to the Buzzfeed report via email, writing:
“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. 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 DeRogatis’ complete story on R. Kelly, visit Buzzfeed.