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R Kelly Accused of Keeping Women 'Prisoners' in a Cult – Why Aren't We Reacting More?

Can we wake up already?

R Kelly has recently denied that he has been holding women against their will in what’s been called a ‘cult’, in his homes in Georgia, following a report published by BuzzFeed.

The news emerged after the parents of one of the girls, a 21-year-old aspiring singer from Georgia, claimed that they have had limited contact with their daughter since May 2015 after she met R Kelly backstage at a concert in California and moved in with him shortly afterwards. When they last saw their daughter in December 2016, they said she appeared to be ‘brainwashed’ and ‘looked like a prisoner’.

According to three former members of Kelly’s entourage – Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee – there are six girls who live in the singer’s homes, with Kelly controlling everything from how they engage in sexual encounters to how they eat. ‘You have to ask for food. You have to ask to use the bathroom,’ says Mack. ‘[Kelly] is a master at mind control… He is a puppet master,’ they said.

Mack, Jones and McGee went on to say that the women who live with Kelly are referred to by Kelly as ‘babies’ and that they have to address him as ‘daddy’ and that he films his sexual activities with the woman and shows the videos to the ‘men in his circle’.

Kelly was quick to deny the allegations and his lawyer, Linda Mensch, said, ‘Mr Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.’

The 50-year-old has had a controversial history with allegations of sexual misconduct. The R&B star made headlines in 1994 when he married his protégé Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old. He was arrested multiple times on child pornography charges and in 2008, tried for 14 charges of making child pornography after a video of the singer having sex with a 14-year-old girl emerged. He was acquitted on the charges and settled several others out of court.

It has been reported that these girls are lured into Kelly’s ‘trap’ by thinking that they’ll be enjoying a lavish lifestyle, which they would otherwise not have been able to afford. This all begs a bigger question, raised by reporter Jim DeRogatis – who has been tracking Kelly’s alleged sexual abuse history for 15+ years – to Slate: ‘I think the biggest factor is one that the African-American scholar Mark Anthony Neal has said: these are all young African-American women, and I think if there had been a white girl it would have been different.’ As part of the interview with Slate, DeRogatis also noted how – similar to Billy Cosby – Kelly’s career doesn’t seem to have been harmed by a 15-year track record of serious allegations against him: ‘I think in some sick corners, it has made him more appealing. I think it was part of a vicarious thrill that Pitchfork Music Festival booked him as the headliner in 2013, and he was on The Tonight Show two nights before Christmas. How much more mainstream does it get?’

When will his status no longer stand in the way of a seriously concerning track record, and will these allegations be fully investigated?

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