Is R&B singer, R. Kelly, running a cult? The parents of an Atlanta girl think so.
Two years ago, the parents, who only identify themselves as J. and Tim to protect their daughter’s privacy, were thrilled when their 19-year-old daughter met R. Kelly backstage at one of his concerts. J. was sure her daughter, an aspiring singer, had just gotten her big break.
“When we got to go backstage with R. Kelly, we stayed there over two hours,” said the mother. “One-on-one with just me and my daughter and him. We went back to talk about the music. He listened to her CD. He was going to help her with her CD, and I was really impressed with him at first, because I have always been an R. Kelly fan.”
Shortly after, Kelly, who just turned 50, flew the daughter out to a California concert so that he could see her again. J. told Buzzfeed News that she was aware of his past sexual misconduct accusations, but she was sure she could protect her daughter.
“In the back of our minds, we were thinking [my daughter] could be around him if I was with her,” J. said. “It didn’t really hit home. Even with the Aaliyah situation,” she says referring to Kelly’s relationship with the 15-year-old niece of his producer. In addition, Kelly was also charged with child pornography in 2009.
But apparently J. was wrong; her daughter should not have been around Kelly. After he had flown her out to California, the 19-year-old started secretly talking to him on the phone. Shortly after, she lied to her parents—saying she was going on a college visit—and Kelly flew her out to Oklahoma City to see him. At that point, the then 48-year-old started a sexual relationship with the 19-year-old. His actions made it very clear that he wasn’t interested in forwarding her music career, reports Buzzfeed.
In June 2016, the girl enrolled for summer classes at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville. By the middle of the 2016 fall semester, she started to change. “She began losing weight, and she cropped her long hair short, permed what was left, and dyed it blonde, said her parents and the former roommate. T.S. recalled her friend telling her that’s how Kelly liked her hair to look,” reports Buzzfeed. By December, she had stopped attending classes, and she did not take her finals.
She also broke off all contact with her parents. “My calls were all forwarded to voicemail,” J. said.
She last saw her daughter in December. “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.”
J. and Tim aren’t alone in their fears, calling Kelly’s home where at least six other girls live. Parents of a 17-year-old from Florida are also trying to get their daughter back, and three former members of Kelly’s inner circle—Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee—confirmed their fears. Buzzfeed News reports, “They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep…”
Cheryl Mack, who worked at Kelly’s personal assistant for a year-and-a-half says these girls are drawn in by the lure of his fame. “The women in Kelly’s entourage initially think ‘This is R. Kelly, I’m going to live a lavish lifestyle.’” But that’s not how it is, she alleges,“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.”
This isn’t the first time Kelly’s been accused of misusing his fame. His 2009 trial, which acquitted him of child pornography charges “excluded claims made by girls or their parents that alleged Kelly regularly abused his position of fame and influence to pursue illegal sexual relationships with underage girls.” There have, however, been dozens of civil lawsuits against Kelly, which he settled out of court with cash payments. “Also excluded was evidence of Kelly’s marriage in 1994 to his then-15-year-old protégé, Aaliyah, for whom he wrote the album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” adds Buzzfeed News.
What do you think? Do you think the accusations are true? Either way, we should pray for these young girls and their families.