R. Kelly is holding as many as six women in what’s being called a “cult,” parents of the women and Kelly’s former associates told BuzzFeed News in a stunning report out Monday. Although some parents said they’ve contacted the police and FBI and filed missing person reports, they still haven’t seen their daughters in years and barely communicate.
As early as 2015, the 50-year-old R&B singer wooed the women, often aspiring performers, by inviting them backstage during concerts or striking up a “music relationship,” parents told BuzzFeed. Eventually, the daughters all but cut off contact and move into properties rented by Kelly. One set of parents told BuzzFeed their daughter met Kelly when she was 17.
Kelly reportedly houses six women, all of the age of consent, in Chicago and Atlanta suburbs. He decides everything about their lives, from what they eat to how they dress to when they sleep, according to three former close associates of Kelly — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee.
The women are Kelly’s “babies,” who are allegedly required to call him “daddy.” He also records their sexual encounters and replaces their phones with ones that can only contact Kelly or other approved numbers, according to the former associates. The women must also ask for permission to leave their rooms in Kelly’s “guest house” — and if they break Kelly’s “rules,” they’re allegedly punished, sometimes physically.
“You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom,” Mack, who worked as Kelly’s personal assistant, told BuzzFeed. Kelly “is a master at mind control …. He is a puppet master.”
When police in both Georgia and Illinois checked on the women’s well-being in the last year, no charges were brought, according to BuzzFeed, and one of the women reportedly told police she was “fine and did not want to be bothered.”
One of the parents said her daughter had looked “brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” said the mother, identified as J. She said she last saw her daughter on Dec. 1, 2016, and has only received two text messages from her since then.
“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. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her,” the mother continued.
The parents used pseudonyms for the BuzzFeed article, but BuzzFeed claims it verified the full names and identities of the families.
Kelly has a long history of allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual relationships with underage girls. He married now-deceased R&B singer Aaliyah when she was just 15. (The album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” is about their relationship).
Responding to BuzzFeed News, Kelly’s lawyer decried the allegations as an effort to “defame” a “great artist who loves his fans.”