R. Kelly claims he's never had sex with a minor: A look at all the accusations against him
R. Kelly broke his silence in an emotional, sometimes unhinged, 80-minute sit-down with Gayle King for CBS This Morning. It’s one of the rare interviews the 52-year-old R&B singer has given over the years as he has been plagued with pedophilia and sexual misconduct accusations for more than two decades. Kelly — who is currently out on bail after he was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault in Chicago — continued to maintain his innocence on national television, declaring that he’s never had sex with a minor or held a woman against her will.
Although Kelly’s behavior has been under a microscope for months thanks to the #MuteRKelly movement and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary, these new claims of sexual assault are nothing new.
The 27-year-old R&B singer weds his 15-year-old protege, Aaliyah Haughton. (Kelly worked as a songwriter and producer on her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.”) When Vibe later publishes the pair’s marriage certificate, it falsely lists Aaliyah’s age as 18. The secret wedding happened two years after the release of Kelly’s debut album Born into the 90’s, where he gave the then 13-year-old singer a shoutout on the track “She’s Got That Vibe,” crooning, “Little cute Aaliyah’s got it.” The marriage is quickly annulled after her parents and the public found out.
Kelly marries 22-year-old dancer and choreographer, Andrea Lee. Months later, a Chicago woman named Tiffany Hawkins, age 25 at the time, sues Kelly and his record, publishing and management companies for $10 million for the “personal injuries and emotional distress” she allegedly suffered during a three-year relationship with the star when she was a teenager. Hawkins claims she began having sex with Kelly when she was 15 and the relationship ended when she turned 18 in 1994.
Kelly and Hawkins reportedly settle the case out of court for $250,000. One of the terms of the settlement forbids her from talking to the press. Weeks later, Kelly wins three Grammys for his hit, “I Believe I Can Fly.”
The Chicago Sun-Times publishes its first report about Kelly having sex with underage girls. “Chicago singer and songwriter R. Kelly used his position of fame and influence as a pop superstar to meet girls as young as 15 and have sex with them, according to court records and interviews,” the article begins.
The investigative piece delves into the Hawkins lawsuit, which named a second Chicago woman who allegedly had sex with Kelly several times in 1991 when she was 16 and the singer was 24. Once, their sex act allegedly involved Hawkins. The woman explains she thought Kelly would help her singing career if she granted him sexual favors. She speaks to the paper because she believes Kelly is continuing to have similar relationships with young girls.
“I just feel like it’s going to come out in the light anyway,” she says. “I’m not trying to [bring him down], because really, honestly, I think it has to be a sickness. Looking at the pictures of how me and Tiffany [Hawkins] were when we were freshmen, we were ugly little girls compared to what he could have had, and so I just didn’t understand why he did what he did.”
The report states Chicago police have twice looked into allegations that Kelly was having sex with underage girls, but dropped the investigations because the females would not cooperate.
One of the Sun-Times reporters anonymously receives a videotape that appears to show Kelly having sex with a young woman and turns it over to Chicago police.
Tracy Sampson, who met Kelly when she was an intern for Epic Records, sues Kelly claiming she lost her virginity to him at age 17.
“I was lied to by him,” she states in the lawsuit. “I was coerced into receiving oral sex from a girl I did not want to have sex with. 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.”
The Sun-Times reports police are investigating a second videotape allegedly showing Kelly performing various crude sex acts with an underage girl. The singer denies the allegations.
“I’m innocent… It’s not true. All I know is this: I have a few people in the past that I’ve fired… people that I’ve thought were my friends that’s not my friends… It’s crap, and that’s how we’re going to treat it,” he tells WMAQ-Channel 5. “The reason these things are happening I really do believe is because of the fact that I didn’t fall back as far as blackmail was concerned. I didn’t give them any money.”
He added, “The world is getting ready to watch me sing a song called ‘The World’s Greatest,’ and you’ve got a tape out there trying to ruin my career.”
R. Kelly’s label stands by him: “R. Kelly has been with Jive Records for 11 years, and we fully support him and his music.”
Kelly settles with Sampson, but is sued by two more women: Patrice Jones and Montina Woods. Jones claims she first had sex with Kelly when she was 16 and that the singer coerced her into having an abortion. Woods, an adult dancer, alleges that Kelly taped her during sex without her consent. He settles both cases out of court.
Kelly is indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography over the second videotape. He is arrested and maintains his innocence. Ultimately, he is charged with 14 counts and faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted.
With no trial date set, Judge Vincent Gaughan threatens to throw out Kelly’s case because prosecutors are having trouble narrowing when the tape was made: “Nobody wants to let a monster go free. But nobody wants to convict an innocent individual.” Meanwhile the 38-year-old singer is enjoying his second week at No. 1 with his album TP.3 Reloaded.
Kelly’s wife files or an order of protection alleging he hit her when she said she wanted a divorce. Weeks later, Andrea rescinds the order and the couple apparently reconciles.
The Kellys file for divorce, although some reports claim they are working on their marriage. Meanwhile, the R&B singer’s trial is delayed when Judge Gaughan suffers injuries after falling at home.
Andrea breaks her silence on the allegations surrounding her husband. “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and I’m living proof,” she tells Essence. “I know the allegations against my husband don’t reflect on me as an individual. They don’t reflect on me as a mom or as a wife, and they don’t reflect on me in my everyday life.”
Kelly’s trial finally begins. The prosecution calls a dozen people close to the girl on the tape who identify her for the court, as well as an expert who testifies that there is “no way” the video could have been faked.
After the prosecution rests, Kelly’s defense team begins its case on June 4, focusing on a distinctive mole on Kelly’s lower back with an expert testifying it was a possible example of “electronic noise” on a faked video. The defense also named several people who could have set up the singer and called three relatives of the girl who deny she is the one seen in the video. The defense team rests after only two days.
On June 14, a jury finds Kelly not guilty on all counts after only one day of deliberations. While jurors believe Kelly was the man on the tape, they said they could not be certain about the identity of the girl, or therefore, her age and whether the video really was child pornography. The refusal of the alleged victim to testify for the state was key in their decision, jurors said.
The Kellys, who share three children, finalize their divorce.
In July, Jim DeRogatis — one of the Chicago Sun-Times reporters who broke the story of Kelly’s alleged involvement with underage women over a decade ago — publishes an explosive report for Buzzfeed claiming Kelly is holding adult women against their will as part of an “abusive cult.” Parents of some of these women, who range in ages from 18 to 31, went to police with their 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,” the article claims.
Kelly denies all accusations in the story, but the #MuteRKelly movement is born.
In the months that follow, more victims come forward. Jerhonda Johnson Pace tells Buzzfeed she began a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was 16 after meeting the singer in 2008 outside of court during his child pornography trial. (The singer denies the accusation.) Former Dallas DJ Kitti Jones claims to Rolling Stone she was in a two-year relationship with Kelly as an adult that mirrored accusations in the Buzzfeed report. Per the article, their relationship was “rife with alleged physical abuse, sexual coercion, emotional manipulation and a slew of draconian rules that dictated nearly every aspect of her life.”
Kelly’s ex-wife speaks out about the alleged abuse she experienced during their 13-year marriage. After contemplating suicide one night, Andrea reveals she searched “domestic violence” and was led to a support website.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m not that girl. I’m not the teeth missing, broken bone girl,’” she recalls. “But God said, ‘Keep scrolling,’ so I kept scrolling… kept scrolling. And at the end of the domestic violence awareness website, there was a questionnaire.” Of the 17 questions, she says, “Robert had done 15 to me.” She says that’s when she got the courage to leave. (Kelly denies her allegations.)
One-year after Buzzfeed’s shocking report, R. Kelly addresses the various claims against him in a 19-minute song “I Admit.” He denies pedophilia and misconduct allegations, but seems to make light of the serious nature of the accusations. One month later, he is dropped by his publicist and lawyer.
Lifetime’s buzzy Surviving R. Kelly docuseries premieres to a record breaking 1.9 million total viewers, one of the network’s highest rated shows ever. Featuring more than 50 interviews, the six-part series chronicles years of abuse and pedophilia claims against the R&B singer.
“We wanted irrefutable evidence,” executive producer Dream Hampton told Entertainment Weekly. “Without leading any of these women, they all had the exact same stories, even if their interactions with R. Kelly were 15 years apart. All of them have stories about being physically abused, being videotaped without consent, being denied food or bathroom privileges as a punishment. All of them have stories about rules that were established early on.”
Through a lawyer, Kelly denies all sexual misconduct allegations. For the first time in decades, the singer starts to see career repercussions as he is dropped by his label, Sony Music, following public outcry.
An unearthed sex tape allegedly involving Kelly and a young teenage girl is turned over to Chicago investigators. The video is reportedly different than the one he stood trial for. Less than two weeks later, Kelly is charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault involving four victims. According to prosecutors, the incidents occurred from 1998 to 2010 with three of the women being minors. Kelly turns himself in and pleads not guilty to all charges. He is released on bail days later.
R. Kelly breaks his silence to Gayle King. The singer became emotional and agitated, screaming that he’s not a monster and everyone is “lying.” Kelly denies ever having sex with a minor or holding women against their will.
“That’s stupid! Use your common sense,” he exclaims. “Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through — oh right now I just think I need to be a monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!”
At another point he yells, “Stop it. You don’t quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my f***ing life!”
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