R. Kelly is back at it again, but not in the way we’d all hoped. Over the last few weeks the R&B singer has been caught in the crossfire of yet another controversy regarding his sexual conduct with women. Three sets of parents have accused him of holding their daughters in an abusive sexual cult, and other women came forward with their own accounts.

Kelly’s Past Allegations

Those old enough to remember the supposed legacy of R. Kelly also remember his perpetual legal battles involving underaged women. The most prominent case involved the late R&B princess Aaliyah in 1994. Although the pair vehemently denied the allegations, there was proof that 27-year old Kelly married 15-year old Aaliyah. The marriage document, however, stated Aaliyah being 18 years of age. Her parents annulled the marriage a year later after this falsification declared the marriage as illegal. Aaliyah filed a lawsuit to have the marriage records expunged and refused to acknowledge their relationship until her untimely death in 2001.

A year after, footage of Kelly engaging in sex with and urinating on an underaged girl surfaced. He once again denied his participation in the video, so far as saying that the man in the video wasn’t him. He was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography and a search of his Florida home revealed a digital camera with incriminating photographs of the underaged girl. The case went to trial six years later and after multiple delays from his end, a Chicago jury found Kelly not guilty. The alleged victim didn’t testify against him, making the public theorize that it had been consented and solidifying the case one of the most controversial of all time.

The 2017 R. Kelly Cult

This time around, R. Kelly is being accused of running an abusive sex cult. A thorough investigation by BuzzFeed News disclosed the narrations of parents and former members of his inner circle. To protect their privacy, the full names of the families remain withheld.

J.’s 19-year old daughter first met Kelly in 2015 under the assumption that her daughter’s music career was on the right path. He claims Kelly wanted to help her daughter with recording an album. She slowly went off the grid during her university enrolment and two years later, J. and her husband Tim are desperately fighting to bring their child back home. The worried parents shared their findings with local police and the FBI but their daughter, under the law, isn’t a missing person. She still lives with the singer but communication is rare; they last saw her in December 2016 and recounted her “prisoner” exterior. She’s madly in love with Kelly, as she contented, but J. and Tim aren’t buying it.

Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Assant McGee, three former members of the alleged cult, weren’t afraid to speak out. Their supporting details unfolded the rules and regulation of the cult. Women lived in properties rented by the singer in Chicago and Atlanta, and he has full control of their lives: what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and their engagement in recorded sexual activities. They labeled Kelly as a “master at mind control” and “a puppet master”.

Documented proof in this scenario might be hard to come by as he controls their phone and social media use. He took their original mobile phones away to discontinue contact with family friends, and replaced with a phone to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly would even physically and verbally assault the women if they broke one of his rules as a form of punishment.

Consent vs. Brainwashing

To sum up, Kelly’s “cult” is legal in the eyes of the law. The mere thought of it is saddening but true. All the women in his inner circle stand of legal age, based on Illinois and Georgia laws. Despite assertions of the parents regarding their children being held against their will, the daughters never spoke ill of the singer which begs the question: is this actually consent or is this brainwashing?

R. Kelly and his camp unequivocally denies the multitude of accusations thrown at him. He signed on Bill Cosby’s (another alleged predator if you haven’t been updated) lawyer Monique Pressley to do damage control, while his civil lawyer Linda Mensch said:

“…It is interesting that stories and tales debunked many years ago turn up when his goal is to stop the violence; put down the guns; and embrace peace and love. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.”

However after all his legal troubles, it’s hard to believe his “inner circle” isn’t a cult or even worse, a sex trafficking ring. According to Billboard, his signature and creepy on-stage antics hasn’t stopped either. The singer was filmed rubbing a fan’s phone against his crotch and encouraging another fan to wipe the same area with a towel and to “grab it!”. He didn’t address the situation but offered a verbal disclaimer about how the show was “about to get freakier than a motherf—er”.

Stay creepy—I meant classy, R. Kelly.

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