I just read the BuzzFeed story on R. Kelly. Here is the link for those that want to read it in its entirety… READ MORE A summary of the article is that R. Kelly has created a cult in which several young women (all of legal age) are restricted in their movements, from speaking to anyone, including their families, without his permission and forced (through manipulation) to engage in sexual activities with him that are usually video recorded.
I may be missing something, but that is the sum and substance of the story, with most of the information supplied to the reporter by two of the mothers of young ladies living in a rented house R. Kelly set up just outside of Atlanta where he also has a rented home in addition to a residence in Chicago’s Trump Towers. The mothers claim that R. Kelly went behind their backs, after meeting the singer initially together with their daughters who had aspirations of being in the entertainment industry. Some of the substantiated allegations related to the control and manipulation, and in a few specific instances physical abuse, were from two women who used to be involved with R. Kelly in the house and one who used to work for him.
The article was interesting, painting a picture of a man with a sordid history of manipulating underaged girls, including the 14 year old in the videotape he went to trial (and acquitted) as well as his alleged marriage to a then 15 year old Aaliyah. The article also touched on his numerous settled civil lawsuits by both alleged underaged girls and others who claimed to have been videotaped sexually without their consent. Nearly all of those lawsuits were settled with confidentially clauses that have left little factual evidence of what can be confirmed related to all of the allegations.
I have interviewed several women in the past who claimed (and all were able to show verifiable proof) of relationships with R. Kelly. He appeared to be a man that had routines and patterns related to his pursuit of young women. It was known in Chicago in the mid to late nineties that R. Kelly could be found in or near the Rock and Roll McDonald’s shortly after school let out in the afternoon. It was blocks from his recording studio and a frequent hangout destination for high schoolers. If not there an “impromptu” shopping trip to the Nike Store on Michigan Avenue in the afternoon was also fertile ground for salacious proclivities.
What was most striking about the Buzz Feed piece was not the allegations of a 49 year old R. Kelly still liking teenaged women, or his controlling and manipulative ways. What I found was that as much things stayed the same, they were in fact very different.
R. Kelly is still a predator. However, he has changed up and appeared to legalize his pursuit. All of the women in the story were of legal (or at least the state consenting) age when they were alleged to have sex with R. Kelly or move in with him. Sure most of you may be disgusted by the idea of a nearly 50 year old man constantly pursuing 18 and 19 year old women, but regardless of your disgust, it is all legal. In fact the actual age of consent in Illinois is 17 and in Georgia it is 16.
The Buzz Feed piece alleges no acts of R. Kelly having sexual relations with women under the state consenting ages nor do they allege he is still videotaping any women under 18. With regard to the allegations that he is so controlling as to be classified as running a cult, as far as I am aware it is not actually ILLEGAL to engage in controlling, manipulative, brain washing of a consenting adult (someone over the age of 18) as long as you are not engaged in participating in otherwise illegal behavior with that individual or forcing or coercing that person to engage in illegal activities.
I am not saying any of the behavior alleged against R.Kelly is right… I am specifically saying he seems to have learned to act right at the threshold of legal behavior. Both mothers sourced in the Buzz Feed story admitted that police were sent to do welfare checks on their respective daughters and once contacted the girls expressed consent at their wanting to remain where they were. Brain washing? Perhaps, but that in and of itself is not illegal.
There was an allegation that R. Kelly physically hitting a girl. There was another allegation that his employees physically assaulted one of the girl’s sister when she attempted to retrieve her sister from his Chicago recording studio. These allegations are potentially criminal, but as of yet no formal criminal complaint has been filed in either case.
There were references to R. Kelly’s rules and control of the girl’s coming and goings. That may be the case, but short of providing evidence that he in any way has physically impeded their movements or ability to leave or done so through threats, it all again falls outside of criminality, no matter how deplorable it may appear. Young or not these women are legally adults and if they consentingly choose to be in a relationship with a controlling and manipulative man, it is legal, if not right.
This piece has once again brought out the strong feelings so many have regarding R. Kelly. Like Trump supporters, devoted R. Kelly fans will blame the girls and their parents for the situation, finding little to no fault for their musical hero. Detractors, see a urinating, predatory pedophile, regardless of the present facts. They question how the entertainment industry can still provide a platform for the singer is fair. The reality is that no matter what we know is reality… he has never been convicted of a crime and his numerous civil suits have been settled. The record company has little legal bearing to drop him and his continued relevancy and concert income is predicated on people supporting him professionally.
We went through this with Michael Jackson as well. A case in which horrific allegations are alleged at an celebrity to so many and despite evidence that is minimally persuasive, people let their hearts override reason and the fact that the celebrities were able to use their money and power to avoid criminal convictions as the weighing factor in ignoring the pattern of bad acts of these musical icons.
Perhaps this will be a final wakeup for most of the public. R. Kelly has shown that not only will he not change who he is, he may only be smarter in conducting himself within legal limits. Whether you choose to support someone like that is ultimately up to you.
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