It has not been a good 2019 for singer R. Kelly, who has long been accused of abusing women and leading a “sex cult.” A new Lifetime documentary has galvanized opponents in and out of the music industry, and artists such as Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, and John Legend have stepped out to denounce Kelly and refuse to work further with him. Other accusers have come forward, and one went public with an alleged threat from the singer to publicly humiliate her if she spoke out:
One of R. Kelly’s accusers said she has proof the Grammy-winning singer tried to intimidate her into staying silent about his alleged abuse. Backed by famed attorney Gloria Allred, 21-year-old Faith Rodgers spoke to New York police Monday and unveiled a threatening letter allegedly written by Kelly last October.
“Mr. Kelly appears to have been engaging in a campaign of intimidation and retaliation,” Allred said at a press conference Monday. …
In the notarized letter to a lawyer representing Rodgers – which she said also contained compromising photos of her – Kelly allegedly wrote “if she persists in court action she will be subjected to public opinion” and demanded Rodgers provide test results “proving the origin of her STD claim.” The letter also said Kelly would request “10 personal male witnesses testifying about her sex life.”
In rebuttal, Kelly’s attorney tried a novel defense. Kelly couldn’t have possibly written the letter, the lawyer claimed, because he’s utterly illiterate:
Kelly’s attorney told CBS News the letter is “a fake” saying “R. Kelly can’t read, write or type. He didn’t send any letter.”
So … he couldn’t hire someone to take dictation? I hear he has a few bucks around the house.
Kelly was one of the rare pre-#MeToo figures who got public attention for his alleged predatory behavior. He married Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15, illegally as it turned out, which started public scrutiny for his behavior. In 2002 he got arrested on charges involving child pornography, which he beat in court thanks to suppression of much of the evidence due to a faulty search warrant. In the summer of 2017, just a couple of months before the blockbuster exposé of Harvey Weinstein made #MeToo into a phenomenon, BuzzFeed reported on Kelly’s “sex cult” and control of women. The Washington Post connected dots in May 2018 to demonstrate the music industry’s complicity in Kelly’s deprivations in a manner similar to Weinstein and Hollywood:
McPherson, who has since left Sony, did not respond to multiple interview requests. He is far from the only industry figure who worked with Kelly and benefited from the partnership, even as a cloud of allegations — mostly involving the sexual abuse of young women — began to grow around the star.
For more than two decades, the recording industry turned a blind eye to Kelly’s behavior as his career continued to thrive and he was afforded every luxury of a chart-topping superstar.
A Washington Post investigation found that this disregard for the singer’s alleged behavior played out on many levels, from the billionaire record executive who first signed the dynamic young vocalist in the early 1990s to the low-paid assistants who arranged flights, food and bathroom breaks for his traveling entourage of young women.
Sound familiar? Somewhere, Big Harv is nodding, if not smiling. But this raises a big question, too. Let’s say everyone woke up in October 2017 to the utter depravity in the film industry surrounding people like Weinstein and others. Why did it take 15 months to finally get around to the music industry and R. Kelly, whose deprivations were already widely known? It’s great that Chance the Rapper is now cutting ties with Kelly after the Lifetime documentary, but why not in late 2017?
Perhaps this might explain the reluctance. How much dirt does Kelly have on others?
We’re told he is freaking out about what he considers “lies” put forward in ‘Surviving.’ As we’ve reported, Kelly’s lawyers fired off a cease and desist letter to Lifetime ahead of the six-part docuseries airing. Of course, Lifetime didn’t blink and Kelly’s now pressuring his attorneys to follow through with the legal threat.
We’re told he has daily meetings with lawyers where they not only discuss the content of ‘Surviving’ … but also attempt to dig up dirt on Lifetime execs. The way one source describes it, Kelly seems crazed about getting revenge, and will leave no stone unturned until he gets it.
That sounds familiar, too — at least to Faith Rodgers.