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BuzzFeed News published a highly disturbing story on Monday about what multiple people classified as a “cult” ruled by R&B star R. Kelly, who is allegedly holding young women against their will at his rented homes, according to the parents of one aspiring singer.
The piece describes in detail emotional and sexual manipulation, as well as purported mental and physical abuse, which includes “punishments” for breaking Kelly’s “rules.”
“Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the parents’ worst fears,” the lengthy article reads in part. “They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he 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 six women are all at least of the age of consent in their respective states, the insiders said.
Here’s more from the piece:
Mack, Jones, and McGee claim that women who live with Kelly, who he calls his “babies,” are required to call him “Daddy” and must ask his permission to leave the Chicago recording studio or their assigned rooms in the “guest house” Kelly rents near his own rented mansion in suburban Atlanta. A black SUV with a burly driver behind the wheel is almost always parked outside both locations. Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle.
Mack, the star’s former personal assistant, said Kelly almost always tells the women to dress in jogging suits because “he doesn’t want their figures to be exposed; he doesn’t want them to look appealing.” She said when other men are in the same room, Kelly “would make the girls turn around and face the wall in their jogging suits because he doesn’t want them to be looked at by anyone else.”
If the women break any of Kelly’s “rules,” Mack and Jones said, he punishes them physically and verbally. For example, Jones claimed that Kelly held her against a tree and slapped her outside of a Subway sandwich shop in spring 2013 because she had been too friendly with the male cashier there.
The story also details physical “punishment” for another young woman who apparently broke Kelly’s “rules” by laughing at a male cab driver’s joke.
TheWrap‘s request to Kelly’s reps for comment was not immediately returned.
Here’s what the singer’s lawyer, Linda Mensch, told BuzzFeed: “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.”
Kelly has faced numerous sexual misconduct allegations in the past, including 14 charges of making child pornography. The key evidence in that case was a videotape that prosecutors alleged showed Kelly having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. Kelly was acquitted.
On Monday, Twitter was quick to convict Kelly in the court of public opinion: