R. Kelly (real name Robert Sylvester Kelly) sat down for an interview with Gayle King for CBS This Morning, during which he directly addressed the cameras and denied any wrongdoing. “Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my f-cking life!” he said, through tears.
This is Kelly’s first televised interview since he was charged with ten counts of felony aggravated criminal sex abuse to which he has pleaded not guilty. Kelly often appeared combative with King, interrupting her and raising his voice, at one point he is even shown to get out of his seat and intimidate King.
For over two decades, the R&B singer has faced allegations of sexually abusing minors. Rumours of sexual misconduct began in 1994, with a secret marriage to a teenager. Lawsuits followed and then an indictment and high-profile court case in which he was acquitted after years of delay. Through it all, the now 51-year-old Kelly continued to perform, release albums and attend prestigious music events.
But, a movement has begun against the entertainer with the release of a new documentary series, Surviving R Kelly. The six-part series, which premiered on Jan. 3, was executive produced by Dream Hampton, a writer and filmmaker from Detroit. It features interviews with several of Kelly’s accusers, his two brothers, an ex-wife and others, including John Legend and Tarana Burke.
“For the first time ever, survivors and people from R. Kelly’s inner circle are coming forward with new allegations about his sexual, mental, and physical abuse,” Lifetime said.
Here is a brief history of the accusations against R. Kelly.
1994: Kelly Marries Aaliyah
At the age of 27, R. Kelly married 15-year-old Aaliyah in a secret ceremony in Chicago. Vibe later discovered Aaliyah had lied on her wedding certificate, listing herself as 18.
The marriage was annulled in February 1995 and Aaliyah tragically died in a plane crash in 2001.
For the remainder of her career, the singer dodged questions about the nature of her relationship with Kelly, and to this day the R&B singer refuses to speak on his marriage.
In a 2016 interview with GQ, Kelly described their relationship as "best best best best friends", but declined to comment on their marriage, saying: "I will never have that conversation with anyone. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally."
1996: Kelly Is Sued For 'Emotional Distress'
At the age of 29, R. Kelly was sued by Tiffany Hawkins for the "personal injuries and emotional distress" she suffered throughout their three year relationship.
In court documents, Hawkins said she began a sexual relationship with Kelly in 1991, when she was 15 and he was 24, and the relationship ended three years later, when she turned 18.
The case was settled in 1998, and Hawkins received $250,000.
2001: Kelly Is Sued By An Intern
Tracy Sampson sued R. Kelly in 2001, accusing the singer of "inducing her into an indecent sexual relationship" when she was just 17.
Sampson, who was working as an intern at Epic Records, claimed she was "treated as his personal sex object and cast aside".
The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, according to the New York Post.
2002 (April and May): Kelly Is Sued, Twice
In 2002, Kelly was sued by Patrice Jones, a Chicago woman who claimed he impregnated her when she was underage, further alleging she was forced to have an abortion.
Another woman named Montina Woods also sued Kelly, alleging he recorded the pair having sex without her knowledge.
The star settled both cases out of court, paying an undisclosed sum in return for a non-disclosure agreement.
2002 (June): Kelly Is Charged Over Child Pornography
At the age of 35, Kelly was charged with twenty-one counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts.
Chicago law enforcement alleged Kelly recorded each of these acts and enticed minors to participate.
All of the charges related to one girl, who was born in 1984.
Kelly's arrest was the result of an anonymous tip sent to the Chicago Sun Times.
Posting $750,000 bail, Kelly immediately denied the charges in an interview with MTV and later pleaded not guilty in court.
The case would come to trial six years later, during which time Kelly released his successful album 'Trapped In The Closet'.
The jury eventually concluded they could not prove the girl on the tape was a minor, and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.
2002 - 2004: Kelly's Arrest Prompts Further Charges
Over the course of two years, Kelly is charged with a further twelve counts of making child pornography.
These charges came after police seized a camera, which allegedly showed the star having sex with a minor.
The charges were dropped when a judge agreed with Kelly's defence team that police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.
2017: Kelly Is Alleged To Have Started A 'Cult'
In 2017, Buzzfeed published an exposé accusing Kelly of trapping six women in a "sex cult".
The detailed report alleged that Kelly seduced young women when they approached him for help with their music careers, before taking control of their lives. According to the article, Kelly began dictating what these women ate, how they dressed and when they and slept. Kelly also dictated the sexual encounters these girls would participate in and were recorded in said activities with Kelly.
Kelly was also believed to have taken the women's cell phones, cutting ties with their friends and family.
The allegations were brought to attention by three former employees of Kelly, and the parents of several women who said their daughters had "vanished".
Kelly vehemently denied the allegations, and all the women were later confirmed to be of legal age.
"I'm not being brainwashed or anything like that," 21-year-old Joycelyn Savage said in a video call to TMZ.
2018: R. Kelly's Victims Approach The Media
Following Buzzfeed's revealing article, victims of Kelly's began to come forward to the media.
Jerhonda Pace broke a non-disclosure agreement to speak about having sex with Kelly while she was underage. Another woman, Kitti Jones, claimed the star had starved her, coerced her into sexual encounters with other women and physically abused her.
2018 also saw the creation of the #MuteRKelly campaign, which targeted Kelly's record label RCA to release the singer.
The campaign also targeted streaming services, with Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora all agreeing to demote Kelly's songs from their playlists.
However, at the release of Surviving R. Kelly, the R&B singer's streaming downloads have increased.
2019: Surviving R. Kelly
On January 3rd, Lifetime released the six-part series titled Surviving R. Kelly.
Created by show-runner and executive producer Dream Hampton, the bombshell series consists of dozens of interviews with alleged abuse survivors and members of the singer's inner circle.
From fellow R&B singer and former protégé Sparkle to alleged victim Jerhonda Pace, Surviving R. Kelly is filled with the stories of the women who fell victim to music star.
The series also hears from celebrities who are advocating the #MuteRKelly campaign.
TMZ reports that Kelly was “disgusted” by the details unearthed in the docu-series and refused to watch a single minute of it.