The continued sexual misconduct allegations against Robert “R” Kelly are more than troubling, and the black community can’t continue to give the singer, songwriter and producer a pass. We have to stand up for our girls and not blame the victims. And in all honesty, we know that that Kelly would be under the jail if his accusers were young white women.
Investigative reporter Jim DeRogatis has covered Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct for nearly two decades, and said in a sobering 2013 interview with the Village Voice, “The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women.”
Over the summer, the latest allegations came from the parents of two young women who believe they are being abused and manipulated in a cultlike relationship with R. Kelly.
DeRogatis broke the shocking story for Buzzfeed that alleges the R&B legend recruited women as young as 18, banned them from communicating with their family and friends, controlled what they wore and ate, and recorded sexual encounters with them. The parents of the two women featured in the story believe their daughters are being held against their will, and have attempted unsuccessfully to have law enforcement intervene.
One young woman escaped Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” and shared disturbing details of her experience on The Real. Jerhonda Pace told the ladies of the daytime talk show that at 16 years old, she was introduced to a female trainer who taught her sexual acts to perform on the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer. The age of consent in Illinois is 17.
“I went out there to his tour bus and you have him naked and you have her naked,” she said of the first time she met the woman. “And I’m looking like, ‘Okay, what is this?’ Because Rob [Kelly] is the one who took my virginity, so I was like, ‘Um, yeah, so, what’s going on?”
She continued, “That’s when he told me to look at her and he said, ‘She’s going to teach you everything you need to know. She’s going to please you.’ He told me to remove my clothes and that’s when me and her engaged in sexual activity.”
Pace said she escaped Kelly’s house by making up a lie about getting shoes from her uncle’s house ahead of a party he was throwing. But once he permitted her to leave on the condition that she immediately return, she knew it was her way out.
“At that moment, I knew when I got out the house, I wasn’t going back. I refused,” she said. “I left everything behind and never looked back.”
“I just want to let all of my fans out there know that, despite all of the crap y’all hearing, I will be coming to the East Coast to do my show — and believe me, y’all, it’s a bunch of crap,” he said.
This latest “sex cult” allegation follows decades of accusations. As outlined by Spin.com, here’s a timeline of the Kelly’s alleged predatory sexual misconduct:
1994: Kelly married 15-year-old Aaliyah.
The late R&B singer recorded her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, in 1994, at 14 years old, with Kelly, then in his late ’20s, as her primary songwriter. Following rumors of a romantic relationship, Vibe published a marriage certificate between the two filed in 1995, in Rosemont, Illinois, on which Aaliyah’s age had been falsified as 18. Neither artist publicly admitted to the marriage before Aaliyah’s death in a plane crash seven years later.
1996: Tiffany Hawkins sues Kelly, claiming they had sex when she was 15 years old.
DeRogatis’ first big Kelly story was a piece from 2000 focused on a Chicago woman named Tiffany Hawkins. In a 1996 lawsuit that went mostly unreported at the time, Hawkins claimed to have had a four-year sexual relationship with Kelly that began in 1991, when she was 15, to 1994, when she was 18. DeRogatis later said that Hawkins slit her wrists in a suicide attempt after the relationship ended. Hawkins’ lawsuit alleged that Kelly encouraged her to participate in group sex with other underage girls, and sought $10 million in damages. According to DeRogatis’s sources, Hawkins and Kelly settled the suit out of court for $250,000.
January 2001: The infamous sex tape showing R. Kelly with an underage girl from an anonymous source.
Shortly after publishing the story about Hawkins’s lawsuit, DeRogatis received a videotape from an anonymous source, which purported to show Kelly having sex with an underage woman. The editors of the Sun-Times provided the tape to the Chicago Police Department, which investigated its contents but was unable to verify the age or identity of the woman.
August 2001: Tracy Sampson sues Kelly, alleging underaged sex and emotional abuse.
A former intern at Epic Records named Tracy Sampson filed a lawsuit alleging that Kelly encouraged her “into an indecent sexual relationship” in 2000, when she was 17 years old. Her suit foreshadows the more recent allegations about Kelly’s emotional manipulation of women. “I was coerced into receiving oral sex from a girl I did not want to have sex with,” she claimed in the suit. “I was often treated as his personal sex object and cast aside. He would tell me to come to his studio and have sex with him, then tell me to go. He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go.” Kelly and Sampson settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, the New York Post reported the following year.
February 2002: Chicago police investigate Kelly over sex tape with apparent 14-year-old.
DeRogatis received another anonymously sourced tape which purported to show Kelly having sex with and urinating on an underaged girl, which the Sun-Times again elected to provide to local police. DeRogatis described the contents of the tape in a 2013 interview with the Village Voice as “rape.” John M. Touhy, Kelly’s lawyer, claimed that the video was a forgery.
April-May 2002: Patrice Jones and Montina Woods sue Kelly.
In the spring of 2002, two women filed new lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct. The first, Patrice Jones, claimed that Kelly pressured her into a sexual relationship in the late ’90s, when she was 16 years old. Her suit, filed in April, alleged that she had sex with Kelly “20 and 30 times” before turning 17, and that Kelly impregnated her and coerced her into having an abortion, MTV reported at the time. In May, a woman named Montina Woods also sued Kelly, alleging that he recorded them having sex without her knowledge, and that the recording was later included on an R. Kelly sex tape compilation that was sold by bootleggers under the title “R. Kelly Triple-X.” Kelly settled with both women out of court, for undisclosed sums, and denied wrongdoing in each case.
June 2002: Kelly is arrested and indicted on child porn charges for second sex tape.
Four months after DeRogatis reported on the Chicago Police Department’s investigation into the second sex tape, the singer was charged with 21 counts of manufacturing child pornography. He was arrested in Florida, where he was hit with 12 more child porn charges based on photos police allegedly found, which also showed him having sex with an apparently underage girl. (These Florida charges were eventually dropped after a judge ruled that the photos were obtained without probably cause for a search warrant. Seven of the Chicago charges were also eventually dropped.) Kelly pled not guilty and posted bail for the Chicago charges several days later.
June 2008: Kelly is acquitted.
After years of delays, Kelly went to trial for the Chicago child porn charges in June 2008. A jury found him not guilty of all 14 remaining counts. Fourteen witnesses for the prosecution identified the woman on the tape as the same unidentified girl, and several also identified Kelly as the man. An expert said that the tape had not been forged or otherwise tampered with. And the alleged victim herself did not testify. According to news reports, the jurors said that they believed Kelly was the man on the tape, but could not be certain about the identity of the woman.
2017: BuzzFeed publishes the “cult” story.
DeRogatis’s new story gives the most vivid account we’ve seen yet of the emotional abuse and manipulation that sources say goes along with Kelly’s sexual conduct. For example, a former personal assistant to the singer told DeRogatis that Kelly only permits the women to wear jogging suits so that other men can’t see the outlines of their bodies. When other men are in the same room, she said, Kelly “would make the girls turn around and face the wall in their jogging suits because he doesn’t want them to be looked at by anyone else.”