R. Kelly: The Beloved “King of Rhythm and Blues” or a Serial Sex Abuser
By Maya Gorman
The documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” is six one-hour long episodes about the accusations of sexual abuse, specifically involving minors, brought against the famous singer and rapper R. Kelly. The series not only includes many personal testimonies from alleged victims and former employees/friends of Kelly on the matter, but also provides the viewer with a more in-depth look at the accusations against Kelly.
The first episode covers Kelly, the singer of popular songs like “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Ignition (Remix)” and “I Wish,” and his rise to fame. Born and raised in Chicago, Kelly was a shy child who was teased because he had trouble reading and writing. There is a clip from an interview Kelly had about his childhood where he discussed being molested from the ages of 7-14 by a member of his family. He focused on his music and spent a lot of time in the recording studio as a form of escape. He made his break on “Big Break” with the R&B group, MGM.
When the accusations of sexual misconduct against him began, he was “the biggest recording artist at that time,” (from “Surviving R. Kelly,”) and had the highest number of record sales of any artist. He was referred to as the “Pied Piper” because he had a large influence on younger generations. He had many successful collaborations with artists like Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson, and Jay Z, although some critics say he lost himself through that fame and fortune.
The series first mentions his various patrols of Kenwood High School, in search of young, impressionable, teenage girls. These girls were only 14-15 years old at the time and wanted to be singers and dancers. R. Kelly allegedly lured these girls with promises to help them find success within the industry. The episodes go on to explain how he and his group of friends would hang out around a McDonalds in Hyde Park and how he would always leave with young girls. Kelly would then supposedly bring these underage girls to his studio.
The most notable case of his underage sexual conduct was when he married the singer, Aaliyah, at the age of twenty-seven when she was only fifteen. He produced her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” which was about a young girl trying to get an older man to have sex with her. Eventually, the two got married. The marriage license was forged, however, and listed Aaliyah as eighteen years old. The marriage was annulled in two months.
Another possible victim, Lizette Martinez, met R. Kelly at a mall when she was seventeen and was invited to have dinner with him. When she was asked to come to his studio, she thought it was her big break, as she wanted to have a career in singing. However, Martinez quickly realized that she was being lied to when R. Kelly allegedly forcefully kissed her.
In Feb. of 2002, a sex tape involving R. Kelly and a seventeen-year-old girl surfaced. The aunt of the girl claims that the girl was fourteen at the time, but the girl and her parents deny she was the young girl in the tape. Kelly’s lawyer, John M. Touhy, claimed the video was forged. In June of 2008, Kelly was acquitted of these charges as the victim herself denies her identity in the video.
The first official public accusation against Kelly was affirmed on June 5, 2002 in Chicago when Kelly was accused of possessing child pornography. He was cleared of these charges, as well as new charges filed later in Miami in 2003, which involved accusations that the singer took inappropriate pictures with a minor.
There have been other charges of sexual misconduct filed by multiple women like Tiffany Hawkins, who claims she and R. Kelly had sexual intercourse during a four-year-long relationship that began when Hawkins was only fifteen. Tracy Sampson pressed charges against Kelly for abusive behavior, detailing that during her time as an intern for Epic Records, she was forced to perform sexual acts against her will. Patrice Jones sued R. Kelly for pressuring her into having a sexual relationship with him, and Montana Woods sued Kelly for recording sexual activity without her consent. There are still more lawsuits that are being filed against Kelly.
In 2016, it was reported that he, 49 at the time, was dating 19-year-old, Halle Calhoun. In April and May of this year, sources reported that R. Kelly’s life is crumbling. His longtime publicist and lawyer left him in early 2018 and on Jan. 18 of this year, Sony Music, the record company he signed to, dropped him.
R. Kelly was arrested after turning himself into the police on Friday, Feb. 24, for “ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, three of whom were minors,” according to the Associated Press.