At this point, 50-year-old R. Kelly has been in the spotlight for nearly half his life. Sometimes, he’s in the spotlight for hit singles like “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Ignition (Remix),” or “Bump N’ Grind.” Throughout his extensive musical career, he’s won three Grammy Awards, and collaborated with artists such as Aaliyah, Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., and Lady Gaga. There is no question about it: R. Kelly is a talented musician, who has achieved massive success.
Though, sometimes he’s in the spotlight for other reasons.
In 2002, R. Kelly was in the spotlight due to a video that surfaced. This video showed Kelly engaging in sexual activities with an underage girl. Though Kelly was not found guilty of the child pornography charges in that case, many civil suits have popped up throughout the years. These civil suits have all ended in cash settlements of undisclosed amounts.
Today, R. Kelly is in the spotlight for his personal life yet again. On July 17, 2017, Buzzfeed released an expose (“Inside The Pied Piper of R&B’s 'Cult'”) that revealed troubling cult-like details about R. Kelly’s relationships with several women, all whom reportedly live on his properties. The article even alleges Kelly exerts mind control of these women, all of whom have been trained to pleasure him in the particular manner he likes to be sexually pleasured. And, if these women break one of R. Kelly’s rules, he punishes them both psychologically, emotionally, and physically.
Who are these women, how did this happen, and why can’t the police step in? All of that and more below, where we have 15 very disturbing details about R. Kelly’s sex "cult."
15 He Lures Them In With The Promise Of Fame
It's been reported two of the young women in R. Kelly’s cult were initially lured in with the promise of musical success. One woman from Georgia had dreams of being a singer/songwriter. She’s now 26, but at the time she met R. Kelly, she was only 19 years old. Kelly met the songwriter backstage at a concert, at which point he promised to mentor her. Since engaging in a relationship with Kelly, the songwriter dropped out of college, moved in with him, and cut off almost all contact with her parents, who are under the impression that their daughter has been brainwashed.
The youngest member of this group is an 18-year-old singer from Florida, who met R. Kelly when she was just 17 years old. Likewise, she met R. Kelly at a concert in 2015, where she was pulled on stage. After the concert, R. Kelly then exchanged numbers with the girl, who was just a high school student at the time. The mother was aware of their exchanging numbers and explained, "We needed to make sure it was about music, because he was going to mentor her. And then from there he wanted her to travel with him so she could see how the music game really was. We thought it could be an opportunity, and that she was going to be with a guardian — a female guardian that would keep an eye on her."
R. Kelly's promise of musical opportunities dates back to 2002, when Kelly was sued by Patrice Jones. Her case against Kelly stated that he promised to teach her about the music industry, at which point they also began a physical relationship. At just 16, Patrice Jones was impregnated by Kelly, who reportedly forced her to have an abortion, for which he paid.
This is a history of hooking young women with the promise of musical success.
14 There’s A Den Mother Who Trains His Girls
Yes, that's Rihanna with R. Kelly. No, she's not the "den mother."
Of the many women in R. Kelly’s group, there is a 31-year-old den mother. It’s reported that she trains the newer girls on exactly how R. Kelly likes to be pleased in the bathroom. (Is anyone else imagining that Littlefinger scene from Game of Thrones?)
If you’re wondering what exactly R. Kelly’s sexual preferences are, I don't know for sure. But, I do know that in one of his sex tapes, he instructed a 14-year-old girl how to position her body to receive "his gift," as he called it. He also told her to call him "daddy." Oh, and he urinated in her mouth. So, there's that.
Oddly enough, the den mother was actually high school friends with the young girl in R. Kelly's sex tape. Sources say the den mother has recently parted ways with Kelly, which is probably best for all parties involved.
13 R. Kelly Films Their Encounters
R. Kelly has long been in hot water because of his affinity for taping his sexual conquests. There were not one, but two sex tapes sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001 and then 2002, one of which was the infamous 14-year-old girl tape. By the way, the 14-year-old girl in the tape also just so happens to be R. Kelly's goddaughter, which certainly ups the creep factor. In 2002, Montina Woods then sued R. Kelly for videotaping them having sex without her knowledge or permission, which brings the tally up to three known sex tapes.
After all the time Kelly's spent in court, you'd think he'd kind of be over the whole videotaping sex thing, but no. It’s been reported that R. Kelly is still taping his sexual activities with the women in his circle.
Oh, he then shows these tapes to his close male friends, as one does.
12 R. Kelly Controls Every Aspect Of Their Lives
As of right now, I’ve only written about the sexual aspects of R. Kelly’s relationship with these women, which isn’t damning in terms of cult-like activity. However, the reports of how R. Kelly controls these women – who are living on his property and engaging in sexual acts with him – are alarming.
Reportedly, R. Kelly calls all of these women his “babies” and, in return, these women must all call him "daddy." (If you remember, he also asked to be called daddy on his one sex tape.) The freedoms of these women are limited, as they must ask permission to even leave their assigned bedrooms, let alone the house.
These women have all reportedly had their phones confiscated by R. Kelly, who has supplied them with new phones, on which they may only call Kelly. They are allowed to call other people - y'know like their parents and other loved ones - only with R. Kelly’s permission.
11 No Really, Every Single Aspect
Guys, R. Kelly controls every single aspect. EVERY. SINGLE. ASPECT. It’s even reported that the women have to even ask when they can eat, when they can bathe, and when they can use the bathroom. Yes, like when you were in elementary school and had to raise your hand and ask to use the bathroom – that’s apparently what life is like for the women in Kelly’s group.
R. Kelly also seems to be in control of the women’s physical appearances as well, as the Georgia woman’s physical appearance changed dramatically once she was in a relationship with Kelly. She lost weight. She also cut her long hair short, permed it, and dyed it blonde, citing that this is how Kelly likes her hair to look.
10 His Control Has Led To Very Little Proof
Because of R. Kelly's limitless control over every aspect of these women's lives, there is very little documentation of the allegations reported in Buzzfeed's article.
Buzzfeed's sources are two women who had relationships with R. Kelly within in the past five years, but they have no photos or recordings, which shouldn't be surprising since the phones they were to use were owned by R. Kelly. Kelly controlled their Kelly-issued phones and social media usage while they lived under his roof. Yes, pretty much like parental locks. They were also specifically told not to take any photos with Kelly or of the rooms in which they were staying.
Generally, it isn't too concerning when a celebrity is private and refuses pictures, as celebrities have to work for the slightest bit of privacy. However, Kelly’s strict privacy rules along with the cult-like allegations paint a grim picture.
9 They Have To Look At The Wall In Presence Of Other Men
Despite videotaping his sexual experiences and showing said tapes to his male friends, Kelly has some weird rules for when his male friends are around any of the women in his group.
R. Kelly’s former personal assistant claims that Kelly forces the women to dress in jogging clothes while other men are around, because he doesn’t want the other men to look at their figures at all. And, that's not the only rule. When other men are in the same room as his women, Kelly even makes the women turn around and face the wall, as he doesn’t want them to be looked at by anyone but him.
Hey, remember in The Blair Witch Project how the witch forces people to stand in the corner and look at the wall, while she kills their friends? That's pretty much what I'm imagining right now.
8 Punishment For Breaking His Rules
What happens if someone breaks one of R. Kelly’s rules? Punishment.
One of the Buzzfeed sources claims that Kelly once slapped her and threw her against a tree, all for being too friendly to a cashier at Subway. (Did she ask about a foot-long? Ha-ha.)
It’s also reported that the singer/songwriter from Georgia was punished for being too friendly to a driver. The songwriter was picked up to go to a club and in the car, were Kelly's other women. When the driver told a joke, the songwriter laughed at it, which apparently violated Kelly's rules. One of the other women in the car texted Kelly about this violation, because she's never heard the phrase snitches get stitches. Upon arriving at the club, the songwriter was bent over and publicly spanked for laughing at another man.
It's also reported that R. Kelly didn't let the 18-year-old Florida woman out of his tour bus for three days after she broke his rules.
7 He Paid For Breast Implants
R. Kelly clearly enforces strict rules about physical appearances, as he prefers the women look a certain way and dress a certain way depending on who they are in front of. That being said, it shouldn’t be all that shocking to hear that R. Kelly paid for the 18-year-old woman to have breast enhancement surgery.
“I am beyond furious,” her father said. “I said to her, ‘How could you do this? What the hell were you thinking? What if you died on the operating table?’ I don’t even know what we can do anymore. I just know we got to get her home.”
While her parents are aware of her breast enhancement surgery, there is little else they know about her life. In an interview, her mother said, “I have not talked to my daughter in more than a year. We’ve had deaths in the family, birthdays, and I haven’t heard from her and she hasn’t been here for any of it. I didn’t even hear from her on Mother’s Day. All I want to do is bring her home.”
Physiologically, the price tag of the breast implants also helps to reinforce the cult-like atmosphere, as the 18-year-old will feel more indebted to him.
6 Who Are The Women Living In Kelly’s Property?
Who exactly is in this cult? Quite a few women.
There is the 31-year-old den mother, who teaches the women R. Kelly’s sexual preferences.
There is a 25-year-old woman, who has been linked to Kelly for 7 years, which means they began their relationship when she was just 18- years old.
A 19-year-old model is said to be the newest member of the group. She’s been photographed publicly with R. Kelly, which is a very, very rare thing for the women in the group.
There are also the two women detailed at length in the Buzzfeed piece: the 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Georgia and 18-year-old singer from Florida. Both of their parents have contacted authorities and spoken to the press about their concern.
Buzzfeed’s report also details interviews with two women who left R. Kelly's sex cult, so it's unclear how many women Kelly has engaged with in this manner.
5 He Personally Recruited A High School Student
R. Kelly’s attraction to much younger women (that’s putting it nicely) is something of a life-long habit.
In 1994, Tiffany Hawkins claimed that she engaged in a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was just 15 and he 24. After a seven-hour deposition detailing their relationship, Kelly settled with Hawkins for an undisclosed amount of money and made her sign a confidentiality agreement. As mentioned earlier in this article, there’s also the 14-year-old girl from the sex tape and the 16-year-old girl, who Kelly allegedly forced to have an abortion.
Throughout the years, there has also been an alleged three-way with an underage girl, photos of him engaging in sexual acts with underage girls, and a physical relationship with a 17-year-old intern.
4 His Relationship With 15-Year-Old Aaliyah
Remember Aaliyah? Of course, you do. She was the mega gorgeous and mega talented R&B singer, who died in a tragic plane crash in 2001. She was just 22 years old when her life ended, but even at just 22 years old, Aaliyah had already been married to R. Kelly.
R. Kelly met Aaliyah when she was just 12 years old. At this point, Kelly took Aaliyah under his wing, mentoring her in the way he would later promise several other girls. R. Kelly became the lead songwriter and producer on Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, Aaliyah's debut album. (AGE AIN’T NOTHING BUT A NUMBER, GUYS!)
The relationship was not just professional, as the two were married in 1994. At the time of their marriage, Aaliyah was 15 and Kelly 28. To even get married, Aaliyah had to lie about her age and say she was 18 years old. When the news of this marriage became public knowledge, Aaliyah’s family pushed her to get it annulled, which she did.
When Tiffany Hawkins’ story about her underage relationship with Kelly, her pregnancy, and how Kelly coerced her to have an abortion came to light, Aaliyah sealed the court records of their marriage. Since Aaliyah's passing, there have been rumors that R. Kelly had also gotten the 15-year-old Aaliyah pregnant.
3 The One Recorded Phone Call
There is very little proof of these damning allegations because of the tight ship R. Kelly runs. With fear of supposed punishment, these women listen to Kelly's rules about texting, photos, and social media, leaving them with very little evidence as to how Kelly treats them. However, there is one recorded phone call.
Before joining his living situation, the aspiring singer/songwriter from Georgia actually recorded a phone conversation with R. Kelly. The woman felt that R. Kelly kept deviating the conversation away from her career, though he claimed to be mentoring her. Instead of talking about her career, he would bring up sex. She confided her frustrations with Kelly in a producer named TONE, who encouraged her to record their phone conversation.
In the recordings, R. Kelly can be heard saying, "I want you to get in the habit of telling me what color panties you got on every day."
When the woman turned the conversation back to a song she was working on, Kelly responded, "I’m more interested in developing you. Songs are not an issue. We can always do a hit song."
2 Why The Police Can’t Do Anything
The parents of the 18-year-old from Florida and the parents of the 26-year-old from Georgia have been working tirelessly to get their daughters back, but they've made very little progress.
In interviews, mothers stated that, despite R. Kelly's past, they trusted that he wanted the best for their daughters’ careers. Now, both mother's lives revolve around getting back their daughters.
The Georgia woman’s mother has closed her business and devoted herself to being an amateur detective. Despite sharing information with the police and FBI, there is very little either can do since her daughter isn’t technically a "missing person" or being held against her will. Well-being checks were performed by the police, who deemed everything was fine. Nothing beyond that could be done.
In recalling the last time she saw her daughter, she said, “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.”
The Florida woman’s parents have tried different tactics. It's been reported that they sent her older sister to go get her. This resulted in the sister getting in an altercation with Kelly and his men, at which point it’s claimed she was pushed and even hit by them. The incident was reported to the police, but listed as a simple battery with no one arrested.
1 R. Kelly’s Response To The Claims
Buzzfeed reached out to R. Kelly for comment, but he didn't respond. Instead, Linda Mensch, Kelly’s lawyer, responded with this:
“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. 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.”
After the release of the article, Mensch released a statement saying, "Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name."
Since the release of the article, one of Kelly's alleged captives, Joycelyn Savage, spoke out. She denied her parent's claims, though she did say she cut ties to her parents for unspecified reasons. Savage also denied being brainwashed or held against her will, but she did not answer if she's free to come and go from Kelly's property.
In response to Kelly's and Savage's denial, BuzzFeed released this statement: "We stand fully behind the story, which was based on nine months of interviews and old-fashioned investigative reporting."
Sources: Variety.com, USmagazine.com, Heavy.com, Buzzfeed.com, Huffingtonpost.com, Dailymail.co.uk