R Kelly has denied claims that he runs an ‘abusive and controlling cult’ of young women and aspiring female musicians.
The accusations emerged in an extensive new investigation by BuzzFeed, which includes several accounts from parents who claim that their daughters are being kept against their will in several houses being rented by the singer.
It is also alleged that women staying at a house rented in Atlanta, Georgia, were ‘trained’ on how Kelly wished to be sexually pleasured while a black SUV is almost always parked outside the house to monitor their movements. They also accuse the singer of confiscating their mobile phones so they cannot contact their friends and family – instead providing them with new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission.
However, Kelly’s lawyer Linda Mensch categorically denies the claims.
“Mr Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” she said in a statement. “Mr Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
One set of parents, who remain anonymous, allege that their daughter is a fledgling singer and was personally invited to meet him backstage at a concert in California in 2015 – claiming that she became ‘brainwashed’ by the singer and professed her love for him when she last saw her in December 2016.
“It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” one mother of an alleged victim told 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.”
Her claims have were also corroborated by Asanta McGee, Kitti Jones and Cheryl Mack, who were previously in Kelly’s inner circle.
R Kelly strongly denies all claims alleged against him.
Last year, a petition was launched to ‘kick R Kelly’s ass off’ a festival bill for past accusations of sexual abuse. In 2002, Kelly denied that he was the man who appeared to be urinating on a girl in a sex tape. Later that year, he was indicted for counts of child pornography, before he was later arrested for photos being found of him “involved in sexual conduct with a female minor”. In 2007, Kelly was found not guilty on all 14 counts levelled against him.