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Notorious R&B star R. Kelly has been accused of keeping a number of women in homes in Chicago and Atlanta as members of a sex-obsessed, abusive cult.
The stunning allegations made against the 50-year-old – whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly – are part of a bombshell report by Buzzfeed News, which cites interviews with former members of the performer’s inner circle and parents of girls as young as 19 who are with Kelly.
The website spoke to Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee – all former members of Kelly’s entourage – about the sort of treatment endured by young women who find themselves pulled into the singer’s orbit.
A representative for Kelly spoke out on Monday afternoon about the claims, saying the singer ‘unequivocally denies’ them and said he will ‘work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and to clear his name’.
Earlier, Mack, Jones, and McGee said there are at least six women living in properties rented by the R&B star in Chicago and Atlanta. The ‘guest houses’ where the women are kept are near his home in suburban Atlanta, and his apartment at Trump Tower in Chicago.
They, according to Buzzfeed, then described the 50-year-old as an utterly controlling figure who dictates every aspect of the women’s daily lives: telling them what and when to eat, how to dress, how to cut their hair, when they sleep, when they bathe, and how to engage in ‘sexual encounters that he records’ and then shows to male friends.
‘No. You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom… [Kelly] is a master at mind control… He is a puppet master,’ Mack, who worked as the singer’s assistant, told the website.
The women, who said the ‘babies’ – as the girls are referred to – are required to call Kelly ‘Daddy’, then ran through a list of people they believe were living either at one of the performer’s properties in Atlanta or his Chicago recording studio last summer.
The first woman mentioned in the article was a 31-year-old ‘den mother’, who is reportedly responsible for ‘training newcomers on how Kelly liked to be pleasured sexually’. Buzzfeed reports the ‘den mother’ ‘had been best friends since high school’ with the person in a videotape that led to Kelly standing trial on child pornography charges in 2008.
The other women his ex-entourage believe were in his properties last summer included: a 25-year-old woman who has known Kelly for seven years, a 26-year-old Atlanta songwriter who began her relationship with him when she was 19, a 19-year-old model, and ‘his number one girl’ – an 18-year-old aspiring pop star from Florida.
Mack told Buzzfeed many of the young women are sucked in by the singer because they think: ‘This is R. Kelly, I’m going to live a lavish lifestyle’.
However, the trio – all of whom lived under one of Kelly’s roofs at a point in the past five years – said the reality is very different to the fantasy of a fairy-tale life in the lap of luxury.
In addition to the aforementioned control Kelly has, he allegedly demands the women ask his permission before leaving a room, are forced to wear jogging suits in public in order to keep their figures hidden, have their phones taken and are given new ones that are only allowed to be used to contact him or others approved by him, and have to deal with a ‘burly’ SUV driver parked outside his properties.
Both Mack and Jones then told Buzzfeed that if any of the women break the ‘rules’, Kelly ‘punishes them physically and verbally’. Jones recounted a time she angered Kelly by ‘being too friendly’ with the male cashier.
‘I got trapped,’ Jones told the website, thinking back to her time with Kelly.
‘I had people telling me I was an idiot. But it took me a long time to realize they were right, and I’m talking now because I hope I can help some of these other girls.’
McGee added: ‘R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet. But Robert is the devil.’
Buzzfeed also spoke to the parents of a 21-year-old woman who is currently one of Kelly’s ‘babies’.
The mother, who was only identified as ‘J’, said her daughter first met Kelly as a 19-year-old at an Atlanta concert in May 2015. A few weeks later, then were all flown out to California to meet the performer backstage.