WARNING: This article talks about graphic and distressing content of an ongoing criminal investigation, such as the alleged sexual abuse of minors. Viewer discretion is advised.
"I have been assassinated; I have been buried alive! But I'm alive!" R&B singer Robert Sylvester Kelly (a.k.a. R. Kelly, as he is widely known) painfully declares in his 80-minute-long interview for CBS. It is during this critical period of media and communication that he denies the allegations of sexual abuse of minors within his controversial past. Most of his anger is directed towards the recent and damning Lifetime documentary, "Surviving R. Kelly," which the many women of R. Kelly's past detail their experience surviving the singer's spree of sexual abuse that collectively represents years of mistreatment, from accusations of child pornography to holding female minors within his so-called "sex cult." He screams at co-host of "CBS This Morning" and his interviewer, Gayle King, who quietly pleas for him to calm down. But he stands up, he is livid, and points to the camera capturing his distressed face, yelling indignantly,
"I didn't do this stuff!" He weeps profusely, accusing social media of character assassination, stating that he is the victim of these whole shenanigans of alleged sexual slavery and pedophilia.
"This is not me! I'm fighting for **** life! Y'all killing me with this ***! I gave y'all thirty years of my **** career! Thirty years of my career! And y'all trying to kill me! You're killing me, man! This thing's not about music! I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can't do it! Y'all just don't wanna believe the truth! You don't wanna believe it!"
Kelly is outraged, standing up and slamming his fist against his chest, screaming directly at a camera, overcome with grief and betrayal over false truths. He references the ordeal he faced back in 2008 when he was found not guilty of 14 counts of child pornography. King silently waits for him to simmer down, crossing her legs and placing her hand on her lap, patiently resilient within the chaos that is the reality of R. Kelly.
"I didn't do this stuff."
Those five words are becoming to be very, very, hard to believe as the days go by. The lines between truth and rumors begin to blur as these continue to be a thorn in R. Kelly's side, as well as the victims and their families who have gone through this ordeal for years. As of writing this article, it's been 63 since the airing of the first of six parts of "Surviving R. Kelly" on Lifetime, and the attention concerning this controversy has astronomically skyrocketed to the point where Cook County was prompted to investigate the matter after the mountain of calls given to the office following the documentary.
Currently, R. Kelly is facing 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse against 4 victims, 3 of which are underage; he pleads "not guilty."
I have watched all of "Surviving R. Kelly," and its a horrible mess (not the documentary, but the allegations against Kelly). Dream Hampton has done a fantastic job of covering this issue for over a year. It's a haunting experience, listening to over 50 interviews (the majority being victims of R. Kelly and their relatives, and others being: family who defended him and former co-workers and celebrities who have been affiliated with Kelly in the past) and watching the emotions take hold. Their tears, their tones, their misery, their anguish, and their determination to seek the truth in the matter is truly something take in.
There are many reasons why many believe R. Kelly to be guilty of these crimes. Here are some of the most controversial:
1) His illegal marriage with the late Aaliyah back in 1994 (who died in a plane crash 7 years later), which she was 15 years old at the time when Kelly was 27 and had his tour manager fabricate her age to be 18 and within the legal criteria. It was later annulled a year later by Aaliyah's family.
2) The testimony of the victim's family, who have been through previous trial and error to see their beloveds again (which are many in the documentary). In "Surviving R. Kelly" there is a family member of a victim who infiltrates a hotel to see her again, all caught on camera.
3) The 2002 video where R. Kelly is allegedly shown to have sex with an underage girl; during the period where this was being investigated, officials recovered images of said girl within Kelly's residence in Florida, evidence that was dropped due to a lack of probable cause for these search warrants.
4) In 2017, Kelly was accused by 3 families that their daughters were within his sex cult, held captive against their will. However, both Kelly and the daughters state these allegations are false.
5) Andrea Lee, R. Kelly's ex-wife, told the media that her ex-husband physically and emotionally abused her for years, to the point where she filed for a divorce. And so on, and so on, and so on...
So what happens next? What will be the future of R. Kelly, the victims, their families, Kelly's fans, and those who have worked with him? Will he be found innocent just as last time and brush this off? Or will be found guilty and face justice? Only time will tell. This whole ordeal paints a disturbing picture of those who people have looked up to within the public eye. With the rise of the MeToo Movement and others seeking truth within these matters, the aftermath will be shocking for all. Michael Jackson, who passed in 2009, is currently facing backlash after the release of "Leaving Neverland," a documentary that focuses on Jackson's controversial allegations of child molestation and two of the men who were affected by his actions when they were young.
So what really happens next? We'll find out soon enough.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from sexual assault or violence, please consider calling the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7, is safe and confidential and offers free services, such as assistance finding a local health facility near your area that assists survivors of sexual assault or just some comforting support from a trusted and trained staff member.
For more information, please visit https://www.rainn.org/.