Earlier today, Buzzfeed reported that R. Kelly’s world is “crumbling” and his career “in jeopardy” as members of his inner circle quit and two more women come forward to speak about the embattled singer’s history of alleged sexual abuse and manipulation. This afternoon, the Washington Post published a lengthy report on that history, detailing how employees, business affiliates, record label executives, and others addressed troubling reports about Kelly’s behavior, and how Kelly has reportedly used civil settlements and non-disclosure agreements to obscure information from the public. The Post‘s report also includes firsthand accounts from two additional women, bringing today’s total to four new testimonies—three from women who say they were abused in past relationships with Kelly and one from the mother of a woman who reportedly lives with Kelly now.
Questions about Kelly’s behavior arose early on: Former tour manager Demetrius Smith told the Post he raised concerns about “incidents” with “girls” to Kelly’s then-label, Jive Records, as early as 1994. That year, Kelly, then 27, married the 15-year-old Aaliyah; Smith says he first took Aaliyah to get a fake ID claiming she was 18.
Other aspects of the Post‘s story elaborate on last year’s Buzzfeed report about Kelly’s alleged “sex cult” of live-in girlfriends, who are reportedly required to cut off contact with family, address Kelly as “Daddy,” avoid looking at other men, and receive permission via text message to leave their rooms or use the toilet. At times, the Post reports, women are “stranded for hours, hungry and forced to urinate into cups.” The paper obtained a copy of one such text change between a live-in girlfriend and a Kelly assistant, as well as photos apparently showing a cup of pee on a piano and urine damage to the floor at a recording studio operated by Kelly’s current label, Sony’s RCA Records. (A Kelly representative reportedly said the idea that women must follow “rules” was “absolutely false.”)
The new reports come as Kelly and his business associates face increasing pressure from activists and parents of women believed to be living with Kelly. One father, Angelo Clary, told the Post that “an older woman in Kelly’s camp impersonated a Sony employee in 2015 to persuade him and his wife to give her legal supervision rights over their daughter.” Timothy and JonJelyn Savage, parents of Joycelyn Savage, said Kelly’s manager offered to let them speak to their daughter only if they gave positive quotes about Kelly on TV.
Kelly has continuously denied all accusations of wrongdoing, most recently in a statement to the Post and other outlets following today’s reports. Kelly “has close friendships with a number of women who are strong, independent, happy, well cared for and free to come and go as they please,” the statement reads. “We deny the many dark descriptions put forth by instigators and liars who have their own agenda for seeking profit and fame.”
Read the Washington Post‘s full report here.