The veteran Chicago music journalist Jim DeRogatis has been investigating allegations about R. Kelly’s sexual-predator behavior for years; it was his report of a video of sex between Kelly and a minor that led to Kelly’s child-porn trial, in which Kelly was found not guilty. And this morning, DeRogatis has published a Buzzfeed article that reveals an entirely new bombshell: According to three former members of Kelly’s entourage, Kelly has a pattern of imprisoning women in a sort of sex cult, mentally and sometimes physically abusing them to keep them subservient to him.
The report focuses on the quest of one young woman’s parents to get her away from Kelly. The woman, a 19-year-old singer from Atlanta, went to meet with Kelly at a concert because she and her parents felt that it would help her career. And now the parents are talking with police and FBI in different states, and they’ve only gotten two texts from their daughter in the past year.
The legalities of this case are tricky, since all of the women in Kelly’s inner circle seem to be of legal age, and when police have checked on them, they’ve said that they’re fine and they want to be left alone. But some of the stories in the article are absolutely horrifying. Among the many revelations, DeRogatis writes:
Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle— Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the parents’ worst fears. 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, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records…
Mack, Jones, and McGee claim that women who live with Kelly, who he calls his “babies,” are required to call him “Daddy” and must ask his permission to leave the Chicago recording studio or their assigned rooms in the “guest house” Kelly rents near his own rented mansion in suburban Atlanta. A black SUV with a burly driver behind the wheel is almost always parked outside both locations. Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle.
The women are allegedly not allowed to look at anyone else, and one of DeRogatis’ sources, who says that she was in a sexual relationship with Kelly, tells a story about Kelly slapping her outside of a Subway because she was too friendly with a male cashier. And the article includes genuinely creepy audio clips of phone conversations between Kelly and that 19-year-old singer, which she made after starting a relationship with Kelly but before becoming part of his inner circle.