Singer R. Kelly is no stranger to controversy, and a lengthy new report at BuzzFeed has just served up a huge new portion. The bombshell allegation: Parents say the 50-year-old singer is keeping young women in an abusive "cult" at his various properties and controlling their every move. The story by Jim DeRogatis says three former Kelly insiders corroborate that six women, one as young as 18, are living at Kelly properties and that he is "dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records." However, the story also notes that police have conducted welfare checks that have led to no charges. Parents say that their daughters met Kelly to further their musical careers but that he "brainwashed" them instead.
"[She] looked like a prisoner—it was horrible," says one mother in the story who last saw her daughter in December 2016. "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." Kelly's former personal assistant tells DeRogatis that the singer is a "master at mind control," but Kelly's attorney says the claims are nonsense: "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." Kelly has a long history of sexual misconduct allegations, though he was acquitted in 2008 on 14 charges of making child pornography. (Reporter DeRogatis is the one who turned over the tape at the center of that case to authorities.) Read the full BuzzFeed report.