R&B singer R. Kelly denies holding women ‘slaves’
R&B star R. Kelly on Monday denied explosive allegations that he was holding women in virtual slavery with control over all aspects of their lives.
The 50-year-old singer – whose smooth voice has produced years of hits including I Believe I Can Fly – said he was “alarmed and disturbed” by the charges.
“Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such accusations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name,” his lawyer, Linda Mensch, said in a statement.
BuzzFeed News earlier on Monday published a report saying that six women lived in a house near Atlanta and a studio in Chicago where Kelly held power over their diets, clothing and sexual encounters, which he would record.
The parents of one alleged victim held a news conference outside the residence near Atlanta and said their 21-year-old daughter had cut off contact.
“My daughter is severely brainwashed,” mother Jonjelyn Savage said.
“We just want him to release her and let her go on with her life,” she told reporters.
The daughter, Jocelyn Savage, denied coercion in a video interview with gossip site TMZ.
“I only want to say that I am in a happy place with my life and I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that,” she said, while declining to answer more detailed questions about her conditions.
She said that she had not spoken to her parents as their allegations had caused a rift.
Kelly – who lives partially at the Trump Tower in his native Chicago – is one of the most successful R&B singers of recent years but has been repeatedly hit by scandal.
In 2008, he was acquitted of charges of child pornography after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that it had a video of the singer involved in sexual acts with an underage girl.
BuzzFeed News, which quoted people close to Kelly, described him as a cult-like figure and said that women allegedly under his spell included aspiring musicians.
Kitti Jones, said to be a former member of Kelly’s inner circle, said the singer once held her against a tree and slapped her outside a restaurant of the sandwich chain Subway after he felt she was too friendly with the cashier.
Cheryl Mack, described as Kelly’s former personal assistant, said the singer insisted that the women wear jogging suits and face the wall when other men could see them.
Kelly “is a master of mind control”, Mack was quoted as saying.
But the report said that police have looked into allegations and not taken action as the women are of legal age and are seen as in consensual relationships.