Singer R. Kelly was released from Cook County Jail on Saturday after an anonymous “benefactor” paid the more than $160,000 he reportedly owes his ex-wife in child support, according to TMZ. “I promise we’re going to straighten all this out,” the singer said into the camera after walking out. “That’s all I can say right now. I love my fans.”
After Kelly spoke, an unidentified woman yelled “I love you” and asked him to touch her hand — a moment that Chicago Sun-Times reporter Nader Issa captured in a Twitter video.
R. Kelly just walked out of jail and made a brief statement. Then a woman, presumably a fan, screamed "I love you, please touch my hand!" pic.twitter.com/c18gGTKl3O
— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) March 9, 2019
The tumultuous moment came just hours after the long-anticipated Gayle King Interview with R. Kelly aired on Friday evening. In the interview, King didn’t shy away from asking the singer the tough questions about the allegations against him. R. Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse, including the abuse of teenage females, and he has denied the accusations.
As Deadline noted, Kelly pointed to the time between when some of the alleged abuses took place and when his accusers have spoken out. “These girls were older, they were 20 years ago, 15 years ago,” Kelly said to King, referring to the women in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. “Why now? Why would they come out now?”
Why women might come forward about sexual misconduct now isn’t exactly a mystery. The #MeToo movement has empowered women to come forward about abuse they suffered years ago, and support for survivors is stronger thanks to all of the people who’ve shared their stories. Apparently, though, King had to explain what #MeToo was to Kelly, Deadline reported.
Survivors “now feel comfortable speaking out, and they now believe they will be believed,” King told the “Ignition” singer. That could apply to the women who’ve accused Kelly of abuse too. “Some of these girls, I had relationships with. Some of them, I don’t even remember,” Kelly said to King, referring to the women in the Lifetime documentary. “Because it was so long ago. I had a lot of relationships. … There were girls, you know what I’m saying, not underage girls.”
You're saying everything they said in that documentary about you is not true?
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 9, 2019
Good luck in prison
— me (@billbro91397658) March 9, 2019
Thou doth protest too much, methinks.
— Growth girl 🌈 (@lauren42790353) March 9, 2019
CBS This Morning also shared a clip in which Kelly started singing some of his songs during the interview.
During R. Kelly's interview with Gayle King, he started singing while describing songs he went to his record company with.
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 9, 2019
Meanwhile, journalist Yashar Ali called Kelly a “sociopath” in a tweet on Friday night. Another Twitter user came to a similar conclusion, tweeting that Kelly is a “narcissistic sociopathic abuser.” And plenty of people chose to use the #MuteRKelly hashtag, encouraging others to stop listening to his music.
Not breaking any news here…R Kelly is a sociopath.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 9, 2019
In conclusion, R. Kelly is a narcissistic sociopathic abuser who just showed his lyin ass all over television.
Thanks for coming to my TedTalk.#muterkelly
— Erin M (@3ri_n) March 9, 2019
The Gayle King interview is so triggering. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how easy it is to get entangled in the cycle of emotional and physical abuse, and how HARD it is to get out. The only thing that comes from it is death or jail. Praying for ALL his victims. #MuteRKelly
— Ms. Green (@sustyqueen) March 9, 2019
— 🇸🇨🇴🇹🇹 🌊 (@Scott_Beamer) March 9, 2019
Kudos @GayleKing kudos!! You kept it so calm and professional during #MuteRKelly interview when he was yelling and spitting all over you. That special will go on be talked about for a very long time to come! #GoodJob #YouKickAss
— Heather (@Heather_138) March 9, 2019
I have deleted ALL music,from my library,that has R Kelly involvement in any way. In effect I have “muted” his music & him! I DO NOT care about any monies that I’ve spent purchasing it on iTunes etc. it’s the principle! I support the girls/women that he has abused🙏🏻#MuteRKelly
— Annie (@annie_chaplin) March 9, 2019
Unfortunately, Kelly’s behavior during the interview was also turned into a meme, although a number of Twitter users called that out for being problematic too.
R Kelly is repugnant and I hate his fucking face and y’all have made him a meme 😪 And 99.9% of these jokes suck
— elexus jionde. (@Lexual__) March 9, 2019
Again, R. Kelly, a pedophile, doesn’t deserve to be a viral meme. Whose image is all over the TL.
The shade room just posted his image in comparison to astrology signs. That’s not ok. The internet is strange. https://t.co/lh6s708wCt
— Jasmyn Lawson (@JasmynBeKnowing) March 9, 2019
CNN published an op-ed on Thursday asking if consumers can (and should) “separate the art from the artist.” The article mentions Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey and others who’ve been accused of sexual misconduct. In Kelly’s case, though, the art and the artist’s alleged abuse may be directly correlated.
Ed Genson, who was Kelly’s lawyer in 2008, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kelly rewrote “Ignition” at his request. “It’s a song related to a guy driving around in a car with his girlfriend,” Genson told the newspaper. “It was originally a high school instructor in a class teaching people how to drive a car. I changed the words.”
Genson’s statements, combined with Kelly’s behavior during the interview, don’t paint a great picture for the singer. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, Kelly faces “10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse charges involving four women.” If he is convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to 70 years.
Attorney Michael Avenatti also tweeted on Saturday afternoon that there is “significant additional evidence that R. Kelly and his handlers transported underage girls across state lines for the purpose of allowing him to sexually assault them.”
Our investigation has now uncovered significant additional evidence that R Kelly and his handlers transported underage girls across state lines for the purpose of allowing him to sexually assault them. We will be turning over the evidence to law enforcement forthwith.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 9, 2019
In the meantime, it looks like more and more people are turning away from Kelly’s music in the wake of the allegations. The story is far from over, but it seems Kelly’s interview with King may have only made things worse for the singer.
CORRECTION 3/9/19: An earlier version of this article referred to R. Kelly as a rapper. In fact, Kelly is an R&B singer and songwriter.
Read more from Yahoo! Entertainment:
- Gayle King responds after Fox News host mistakes her for Robin Roberts
- ‘I didn’t do this stuff!’: R. Kelly denies sexual assault charges in first interview since arrest
- R. Kelly posts bail after pleading not guilty to sex abuse charges