The R&B singer Robert “R.” Kelly is being accused by several parents of brainwashing and housing their daughters in a cult-like situation according to a new report by BuzzFeed News. The story put together by long-time Chicago-based music journalist Jim DeRogatis outlines explosive allegations against the singer.
The parents claim, supported by several former members of Kelly’s inner circle, that Kelly began relationships with their daughters on the basis of their music careers. The relationships would eventually turn sexual, then Kelly would have them move into one of his properties, cut off their contact with the world and force them to obey Kelly’s strict rules. The article alleges that Kelly would take away the girl’s cell phones and give them a new one. They were only allowed to talk to Kelly on the new phone unless they sought permission.
One mother, J., (BuzzFeed refrained from using her full identity to protect her) claimed that her daughter began a relationship with Kelly in 2015 saying he would help her music career. Eventually, the daughter moved in with Kelly, 50, at some point in late 2016, and cut off contact with her parents. J. told BuzzFeed News that the last time she saw her daughter was Dec. 1 of last year.
“It was as if she was brainwashed. (She) looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” she said to BuzzFeed News. “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.”
Kelly has had some entanglements in court due to his previous behavior. Kelly married singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15 and he was 27. The marriage was eventually annulled with a court settlement. Kelly settled a lawsuit in 1997 from a case that alleged he began a sexual relationship with a different singer when she was 15. Kelly also went on trial for a controversial sex tape in which he was charged with several counts of child pornography but was found not guilty in 2008.
BuzzFeed News received a statement about the piece from Kelly’s lawyer, Linda Mensch.
“We can only wonder why folks would persist in defaming a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the people in his life,” Mensch wrote. “He works hard to become the best person and artist he can be. It is interesting that stories and tales debunked many years ago turn up when his goal is to stop the violence; put down the guns; and embrace peace and love. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.”
The International Business Times did not receive a response from Kelly’s publicist for comment.