Recent scrutiny from the Time’s Up movement, a new legal threat from an ex-partner, and the loss of key staff have placed R. Kelly under intensifying pressure as the singer faces fresh public reckoning for a decades-long history of sexual misconduct allegations, according to Buzzfeed News. The site reports that Kelly’s “world is crumbling,” as two additional women speak for the first time about alleged abuse. “His recording and performing careers are in jeopardy, and his finances are dwindling,” journalists Jim DeRogatis and Marisa Carroll write. Kelly has just one upcoming concert scheduled, and in addition to the resignations of his publicist, personal assistant, and lawyer, he’s also lost the services of his accountant and DJ. “I didn’t know then what I know now. He’s a shitbag,” former Kelly accompanist DJ Phantom told the site.
Kelly has consistently denied all allegations of misconduct, and did so again in a Friday statement to the Associated Press that called him “a God-fearing man, a son, a brother, and most importantly a father” who was “heartbroken” by “false allegations” “perpetuated by the media” in an attempt to “destroy [his] legacy.” Speaking to Rolling Stone, however, a Kelly representative denied that the statement came from the singer or his management, calling it an “erroneous, unauthorized statement that never was said by R. Kelly himself. … Mr. Kelly rejects the points the statement tries to make, and we deny all association with it.”
In today’s new Buzzfeed report, two women speak publicly about their experience with Kelly. The first, identified as “Michelle,” is the mother of a 27-year-old woman, “N.,” who’s been previously reported as living with Kelly in an allegedly abusive “cult” of women whose activities and behavior he controls. According to Michelle, her daughter met Kelly at age 17 while living at home in Chicago and accepted a job as Kelly’s “assistant.” But she later fell out of touch with family after following Kelly to Atlanta in 2014. Michelle says she hasn’t seen N. in almost two years; they occasionally communicate via a phone controlled by Kelly, interactions Michelle describes as “like prison calls.”
The second woman, Lizzette Martinez, says she met Kelly as a 17-year-old high school student and aspiring singer in 1995. Martinez says she told Kelly upfront that she was underage, but they had sex not long after; over the next few years, Martinez says Kelly hit her on five occasions and once pressured her to have an abortion she didn’t want to have. The relationship ended in 1999, and although Martinez later considered pursuing legal action, she decided against it: “It was just too much pain. I had a new life.”
Read Buzzfeed’s full report here.