An extensive new report on 50-year-old R&B star R. Kelly reveals allegations that the singer is holding multiple women against their will in an "abusive cult." The allegations, detailed in a BuzzFeed News piece from Jim DeRogatis Monday, come from concerned parents who say they are now actively fighting to bring their daughters home from what they describe as a "brainwashed" environment.
"[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible," one woman, identified only as "J," said of her daughter's alleged relationship with Kelly. "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."
J, described as a "devoted stage mom," first moved to Atlanta with her husband Tim to ensure their daughter had a shot at a viable music career. At 19, they say their daughter—who is not identified in the report—was invited backstage at a 2015 show under the pretense that Kelly was going to help her with music. Two years later, the couple has only heard from their daughter via brief text messages. Due to her age, however, their daughter isn't viewed as a missing person by law enforcement.
Additional accounts from alleged former members of Kelly's "inner circle" add that Kelly "controls every aspect" of the multiple women residing at his properties in Atlanta and Chicago, including everything from their diet to "how they engage in sexual encounters" that are allegedly recorded for playback later in front of Kelly's friends. If Kelly's house "rules" are broken, these former inner circle members allege, he is known to punish the women both physically and verbally. "R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet," Asante McGee, one of the former inner circle members, said. "But Robert is the devil."
A Chicago civil lawyer representing Kelly, who was acquitted on 14 child porn counts back in 2008, has called the latest allegations an attempt at "defaming" an artist. "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," lawyer Linda Mensch said. "I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that."
Read the full BuzzFeed News report, which also includes recordings of conversations between Kelly and J and Tim's daughter, right here.