Fresh abuse investigations launched after R Kelly documentary

Prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta appeal for new information after allegations of abuse are made in documentary about R&B star, who has long denied wrongdoing

Fresh investigations have been launched into allegations of sexual and physical abuse against R Kelly by prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta, after the airing of Surviving R Kelly, a documentary that contained claims of abuse by the R&B singer.

Chicago prosecutor Kimberly Foxx urged any potential victims of Kelly to come forward, saying: “There’s nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses. We cannot seek justice without you.” Atlanta lawyer Gerald Griggs, representing a couple who claim Kelly is holding their daughter against her will, has said he was approached by the district attorney’s office regarding potential abuse by Kelly.

Chicago prosecutor Kimberley M Foxx.
Chicago prosecutor and and Cook County’s state attorney Kimberly Foxx. Photograph: Teresa Crawford/AP

The investigations will increase pressure on the embattled singer, who has long been dogged with accusations of sexual, physical and psychological abuse of women. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Kelly was accused of holding five women in a sex “cult”, with a former girlfriend alleging that he had sexual contact with girls as young as 14. In October, his ex-wife Andrea Kelly accused him of domestic violence. Earlier in his career, he was tried and acquitted on child pornography charges.

Kelly has long denied any wrongdoing, even recording a song professing his innocence, singing: “I’m so falsely accused.”

By drawing together years of reporting into the R&B star, notably by journalist Jim DeRogatis, Surviving R Kelly has had an explosive impact in the US since it was broadcast last week. Calls to the US National Sexual Assault Hotline rose 20%, with Jodi Omear of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network acknowledging: “Hearing about sexual violence on the news or television shows can be difficult for survivors … We often see an increase in the number of people reaching out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline for help during high profile stories.”

While there has been support of Kelly from fans, and an increase in streams of his music since the documentary aired, many others have criticised the singer, including rapper 6lack who tweeted: “Get this man tf outta here. please. he beyond trash.” John Legend, one of the only stars to appear in the documentary, tweeted, referring to the disgraced Harvey Weinstein [who denies the allegations made against him]: “Since his being exposed, his company and career have rightfully been destroyed and he’s been indicted. Sounds like something that should happen to R Kelly.”

Rapper, actor and activist Common told TMZ: “We failed as a community because we knew these things were happening and instead of trying to be like, ‘Let’s go and try to resolve this situation and free these young ladies and stop this thing that’s going on,’ we were just like, ‘Man, we rocking to the music,’” adding: “I’m guilty of that too because I didn’t stop and be like, ‘Yo,’ and speak against this.”

Damon Dash, the hip-hop mogul who was a partner to late R&B singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly himself allegedly illegally married when she was 15, has said: “I had to look the other way, all these years,” as his business partner Jay-Z recorded music with Kelly. In another interview he said the collaboration caused the partnership with Jay-Z to break down: “I knew, morally, we weren’t the same … to me, Roc-a-Fella was defunct. It was over. I couldn’t fuck with it. It was something that, to me – I don’t wanna say ‘unforgivable,’ but I couldn’t understand it.” He added that Aaliyah refused to discuss her relationship with Kelly. Jay-Z declined to be interviewed for the documentary Surviving R Kelly.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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