On Monday, BuzzFeed dropped a bombshell report that parents of some young women are concerned that their daughters are being kept in a sex "cult" by musician Robert "R." Kelly. The worried parents claim that Kelly has brainwashed the young women (whom he calls his "babies") into serving as what sounds like some sort of harem.
BuzzFeed alleges that the 50-year-old musician (who married his manager's 15-year-old niece, singer Aaliyah, in 1994) is controlling what the women wear, when they bathe, and when and what they eat. Their sexual acts with Kelly are reportedly recorded and the videos shown to his friends. Cheryl Mack, Kelly's former personal assistant, told BuzzFeed, “You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom. [Kelly] is a master at mind control. . . He is a puppet master.”
However, Jocelyn Savage, one of the women who is supposedly a member of Kelly's "cult," told TMZ on Monday night that she is not being held hostage. In the video, she claims that she's exactly where she wants to be, and though she still gets texts from her parents, she's chosen not to communicate with them. She says,
Mainly want to say that I'm in a happy place, with my life and I'm not being brainwashed or anything like that. . . I just want everybody. . . to know that I am totally fine. I'm happy where I'm at and everything's okay with me.
Hmm. That sounds just like something a brainwashed person would say…or a person who was doing totally fine.
Savage said she wasn't in Georgia, but wouldn't elaborate further. She also chose not to answer questions about her relationship with Kelly.
Kelly's lawyer, Linda Mensch, has denied all of the allegations. In a statement to People, Mensch said,
Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.
This isn't the first time allegations against R. Kelly (who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008) have surfaced—in fact, the author of the BuzzFeed article, Jim DeRogatis, has been investigating and reporting on R. Kelly's alleged misdoings for years.
Is R. Kelly finally going to go the way of Bill Cosby? It's high time that people start taking these allegations seriously. During his years of reporting, DeRogatis said of Kelly's victims, "The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.”