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R Kelly
R. Kelly

R. Kelly accused of ‘holding women in cult’

A new report by BuzzFeed News alleges that multiple women are being held at the R&B superstar’s Chicago and Atlanta homes, and that he ‘controls every aspect of their lives’

Update: R. Kelly has categorically denied the allegations that he is the R&B ringleader of a cult, or that women are being held against their will. “Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed by the recent revelations attributed to him,” Kelly's lawyer, Linda Mensch, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such accusations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”

R. Kelly has been accused of holding multiple women in a situation described as a ‘cult’, according to new revelations by BuzzFeed News.

The report, by journalist Jim DeRogatis (who has covered R. Kelly for nearly two decades, and who first broke the story of the R&B superstar’s alleged predation of teenage girls), quotes several sets of parents who claim that their daughters are being held against their will at the singer’s homes in Atlanta and Chicago. Also quoted are former members of Kelly’s entourage, who confirm the parents’ side of the story.

Among other shocking accusations are that the women have had their phones replaced with ones used specifically to communicate with Kelly, that they require permission to leave his residence, that they’re made to refer to him as ‘daddy’, and that all of their sexual encounters are filmed. If one of the women is deemed to be breaking one of Kelly’s ‘rules’ (such as being flirtatious with other men), there are reportedly strict physical and verbal punishments.

The women were introduced to Kelly under the impression that the singer would be helping them with their music career, helping to record demos and perform with him. Six women are alleged to be staying with Kelly, who allegedly “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 parents of one of the women have been told that their daughter is in a consenting relationship with Kelly. One mother “closed her businesses, became a relentless amateur detective, and shared her findings with the FBI and police in two states,” DeRogatis writes. “But their daughter isn’t a missing person – at least not in the eyes of the law. She still lives with Kelly and says she’s doing fine, despite her parents telling the police that she is ‘being held against her will’ in what they call a ‘cult.’”

One mother, named as ‘J’ in the article, said that the last time she saw her daughter, “it was as if she was brainwashed. (She) looked like a prisoner – it was horrible. 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 reprogramme her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”

Kelly has been accused of predatory behaviour and having relationships with minors in reports before, but he has continued to enjoy a successful recording career, collaborate with other stars, and feature in brand campaigns.

Read the full report on Buzzfeed News.