For decades, allegations of sexual misconduct with young girls have swirled around R. Kelly, yet he continues to record music, book arena shows, and be promoted by radio stations. In the #MeToo era, however, an increasing number of women are speaking out publicly against Kelly; just this week, the Time's Up campaign called for his alleged misdeeds to be investigated and for various music entities to sever their relationships with him. On Friday, two more exposés on Kelly were published: lengthy pieces in BuzzFeed and the Washington Post. The Post delves into how and why the music industry overlooked allegations against Kelly and speaks to former staffers of his, music industry bigwigs, parents of young women in his entourage, and six women who were once involved with him (two of whom have never spoken out publicly before); BuzzFeed speaks to a woman who says she was in an abusive relationship with Kelly beginning at 17 and the mother of a woman allegedly "brainwashed" by Kelly.
The picture painted by the two pieces is bleak: The Post, for example, says Kelly constantly has an entourage of young women (sometimes minors), many of whom believed he would help kickstart careers in the entertainment industry, who are allegedly kept extremely isolated: They hand over phones, leave social media, cut off contact with family and friends, and move in with Kelly, whom they must call "Daddy." They aren't allowed to look at other men, according to the Post's sources, and must ask permission from Kelly or staffers even to use the restroom; sometimes, forced to stay in a room for hours, this means they urinate into cups. And BuzzFeed's sources say Kelly rules all aspects of the women's lives, telling them when to eat and sleep and what to wear, among other things, and punishing them if they break a rule. Parents who spoke to both publications claim Kelly is keeping their children from contacting them. Read both pieces in full here and here. Kelly's team denies wrongdoing. (Read more R. Kelly stories.)