R&B star R. Kelly has been accused of keeping a number of women in homes in Chicago and Atlanta as members of a sex-obsessed, abusive cult.
The stunning allegations made against the 50-year-old are part of a bombshell report by Buzzfeed News, which cites interviews with former members of the performer’s inner circle and parents of girls as young as 19 who are with Kelly.
The website spoke to Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee – all former members of Kelly’s entourage – about the sort of treatment endured by young women who find themselves pulled into the singer’s orbit.
Mack, Jones, and McGee said there are at least six women living in properties rented by the R&B star in Chicago and Atlanta. The ‘guest houses’ where the women are kept are near his home in suburban Atlanta, and his apartment at Trump Tower in Chicago.
They, according to Buzzfeed, then described the 50-year-old as an utterly controlling figure who dictates every aspect of the women’s daily lives: telling them what and when to eat, how to dress, how to cut their hair, when they sleep, when they bathe, and how to engage in ‘sexual encounters that he records’ and then shows to male friends.
‘No. You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom… [Kelly] is a master at mind control… He is a puppet master,’ Mack, who worked as the singer’s assistant, told the website.
The women, who said the ‘babies’ – as the girls are referred to – are required to call Kelly ‘Daddy’, then ran through a list of people they believe were living either at one of the performer’s properties in Atlanta or his Chicago recording studio last summer.
The first woman mentioned in the article was a 31-year-old ‘den mother’, who is reportedly responsible for ‘training newcomers on how Kelly liked to be pleasured sexually’. Buzzfeed reports the ‘den mother’ ‘had been best friends since high school’ with the person in a videotape that led to Kelly standing trial on child pornography charges in 2008.
The other women his ex-entourage believe were in his properties last summer included: a 25-year-old woman who has known Kelly for seven years, a 26-year-old Atlanta songwriter who began her relationship with him when she was 19, a 19-year-old model, and ‘his number one girl’ – an 18-year-old aspiring pop star from Florida.
Mack told Buzzfeed many of the young women are sucked in by the singer because they think: ‘This is R. Kelly, I’m going to live a lavish lifestyle’.
However, the trio – all of whom lived under one of Kelly’s roofs at a point in the past five years – said the reality is very different to the fantasy of a fairy-tale life in the lap of luxury.
In addition to the aforementioned control Kelly has, he allegedly demands the women ask his permission before leaving a room, are forced to wear jogging suits in public in order to keep their figures hidden, have their phones taken and are given new ones that are only allowed to be used to contact him or others approved by him, and have to deal with a ‘burly’ SUV driver parked outside his properties to ensure they do not leave.
Both Mack and Jones then told Buzzfeed that if any of the women break the ‘rules’, Kelly ‘punishes them physically and verbally’. Jones recounted a time when she was pushed up against a tree outside a Subway store and slapped by Kelly, who was allegedly furious she had ‘been too friendly’ with the male cashier.
‘I got trapped,’ Jones told the website, thinking back to her time with Kelly.
‘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.’
McGee added: ‘R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet. But Robert is the devil.’
Buzzfeed also spoke to the parents of a 21-year-old woman who is currently one of Kelly’s ‘babies’.
The mother, who was only identified as ‘J’, said her daughter first met Kelly as a 19-year-old at an Atlanta concert in May 2015. A few weeks later, then were all flown out to California to meet the performer backstage.
The singer kept in contact with the young woman over the next month, and in June 2015 she lied to her parents about going to visit a Georgia college and instead flew to Oklahoma City to see Kelly perform. During that trip, the woman had sex with Kelly for the first time, according to Buzzfeed.
The two remained in contact over the next year, with the young woman trying to get the star’s help in launching her own music career. In June 2016, according to Buzzfeed, she enrolled in college and started taking classes.
But in the months that followed, her appearance drastically changed, according to her former college roommate, and ultimately she stopped going to classes.
Her concerned parents then launched a desperate bid to get her back, Buzzfeed reports, and asked police to perform a well-being check on their daughter at the Kelly house where they knew she was staying at the time.
In a police report obtained by Buzzfeed, ‘J’ said she believed Kelly was running a ‘cult’ and ‘abusive and is controlling her daughter’.
Officers found the house empty when they arrived to perform the check. They did manage to locate the daughter during another well-being check one month later in Chicago, but the young woman told officers, she was ‘fine and did not want to be bothered with her parents’, according to Buzzfeed.
‘J’ and Tim, the woman’s father, said they have not spoken to their daughter since December 2016.
‘It’s not about my daughter, per se. It’s about all the girls,’ Tim told the website.
‘It’s about my daughter, and I understand that. But the abuse that my daughter is actually enduring, nobody should go through.’
Two more parents also spoke to the website about how they are trying to get their daughter back, after she moved in with the star following a meeting when she was 17 in April 2015.
The parents, Theresa and Angelo, detailed how Kelly kept in touch with their daughter predominantly through secret calls and texting after he ‘picked her out of the crowd’ during a performance at Funk Fest in Orlando.
One day shortly after, the parents were concerned because their daughter had not come home from school and they did not know where she was. The young woman texted her frantic parents to tell them she had met up with Kelly at his hotel.
Despite their best efforts, a few months later – according to Buzzfeed – she was living with Kelly. Angelo said his daughter has now cut off communication for the most part as well.
McGee, a member of Kelly’s ex-entourage, said she knew of the wannabe singer, and said she was ‘head over heels’ for the R&B star. Kelly was also, according to McGee, ‘obsessed’ with the young woman.
But despite the alleged affection, McGee said she also witnessed the young girl being punished for breaking the rules, according to the website.
‘He left [the Florida woman] on the [tour] bus for, like, three days and she was not allowed to come out,’ she said.
‘He said she didn’t do her homework — that’s why she was punished — which was very confusing, because she had just graduated over the summer.’
McGee then told Buzzfeed the treatment the young woman endured stuck with her due to the fact she has a 17-year-old daughter.
‘This could be my daughter,’ she said. ‘I just knew that it was not right and I just couldn’t understand what a man almost 50 is doing having sex with someone the same age as his daughter.
‘That’s when I realized it was more of a mind-control thing.’
Theresa and Angelo said they have tried repeatedly to get back in contact with their daughter, but have not been successful in doing so.
However, Buzzfeed said Angelo received a call from his daughter out of the blue last week – after the outlet had contacted Kelly regarding the report, in which the young woman invited her dad to see the singer perform.
When he turned down the offer, due to being skeptical about Kelly’s motivations, Angelo was then told by his daughter the singer recently paid for her to have breast enhancement surgery.
‘I am beyond furious,’ Angelo told Buzzfeed. ‘I said to her, “How could you do this? What the hell were you thinking? What if you died on the operating table?”
‘I don’t even know what we can do anymore. I just know we got to get her home.’
Kelly has regularly denied any allegations about underage sexual encounters. The singer has been dogged by then since his child pornography charges, as well as him marrying fellow singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15.
A lawyer who represents the singer told Buzzfeed in response to the new allegations: ‘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.’
Linda Mensch continued: ‘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.’