R. Kelly raped, forcibly imprisoned, and knowingly infected with herpes a 19-year-old woman, a new lawsuit filed Monday in New York alleges.
Faith Rodgers, now 20, says that she first interacted with the singer-songwriter—born Robert Sylvester Kelly—after a show in San Antonio, Texas, last March. According to the suit, Kelly provided Rodgers with alcohol that night, despite her being underage, and the two exchanged phone numbers. Two months later, Kelly travelled to New York to perform; according to the suit, he instructed his assistant, Diana Copeland, to arrange Rodgers's travel to the city. (Copeland has since parted ways with Kelly.)
The suit claims that Kelly "bombarded [Rodgers's] hotel room and initiated unwanted sexual contact" that night. It further claims that Kelly "disregarded specific statements made by [Rodgers] that she was 'not ready to have sex.'"
Rodgers explained the interaction in an interview published yesterday by the BBC: “I told him that I wasn’t ready for sex, that I don’t engage in sex the first time I meet somebody—that’s not who I am, that’s not what I’m comfortable with."
Since then, the suit claims, Kelly has abused Rodgers “mentally, sexually, and verbally,” and his behavior was "designed to humiliate, embarrass, intimidate, and shame" her. Rodgers alleges that Kelly raped her repeatedly, and locked her in confined spaces such as cars and studios as punishment for "failing to please" him sexually. Rodgers says that Copeland acted as a lookout during these periods of isolation.
During their relationship, Faith says R. Kelly also asked her to sign a contract that he said would offer him “protection.” She did not sign the agreement.
Faith says she was introduced to a circle of women who R. Kelly described as his “family,” and who all referred to him as “Daddy.” She says they followed a series of rules set by the singer like standing up, walking to him and kissing him on the mouth whenever he entered the room.
She describes some members of R. Kelly’s inner circle as “puppets” who have been brainwashed.
“He’s the master and they’re his slaves,” she says.
Rodgers says in the suit that she received a phone call this past February advising her to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. She tested positive for herpes, having tested negative for the disease when her relationship with Kelly began. The suit alleges that Kelly knew that he had herpes and declined to tell Rodgers.
In April, when Rodgers's report first surfaced, a spokesperson for Kelly told the Washington Post that the 51-year-old singer “categorically denies all claims and allegations.”
At the top of the suit, Rodgers's lawyer, Lydia C. Hills, writes that Rodgers's claims are familiar: "Unfortunately, the facts and background of this case are not unique. This is a run-of-the-mill R. Kelly sexual abuse case. For over 20 years, women across America have been victimized by[...] R.Kelly, and have filed eerily similar claims."
Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse, statutory rape, grooming, and sexual coercion multiple times over the past two decades, though he has never been convicted of a crime. Last year, Jim DeRogatis reported for Buzzfeed that Kelly was running an abusive "cult," grooming and intentionally isolating young girls from their families. A recent BBC documentary dug further into the claims, alleging that Kelly groomed a 14-year-old girl to be his "sex pet."
Two weeks ago, in response to the #MuteRKelly campaign, which demands "appropriate investigations and inquiries into the allegations of R. Kelly's abuse made by women of color and their families for over two decades," Spotify removed Kelly's songs from its curated playlists.
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