R. Kelly denies holding women captive

An Atlanta family accuses R&B Singer R. Kelly of 'brainwashing' their 21-year-old daughter and keeping her captive after allegations surfaced that the Grammy-award winning singer is keeping a household of young women in a 'cult' atmosphere.
BuzzFeed News said in a report that six women lived in a house near Atlanta and a studio in Chicago, where R&B singer R. Kelly had power over their diets, clothing and sexual encounters.
BuzzFeed News said in a report that six women lived in a house near Atlanta and a studio in Chicago, where R&B singer R. Kelly had power over their diets, clothing and sexual encounters. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • R&B singer R. Kelly on Monday denied an article by media outlet BuzzFeed News that he was keeping a household of young women in a "cult" atmosphere.

"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," his attorney Linda Mensch said in a statement.

Kelly, 50, has not been charged with any crime.

BuzzFeed News on Monday reported that six women lived in a house near Atlanta and a studio in Chicago, where Kelly had power over their diets, clothing and sexual encounters, which he would record.

BuzzFeed said in an e-mailed statement: "We stand fully behind the story, which was based on nine months of interviews and oldfashioned investigative reporting."

The article was one of the top- trending items on social media on Monday. It cited interviews with two families and three former associates of Kelly. It quoted one mother as saying the set-up was a "cult".

The article said all of the women were over the age of consent. Some family members quoted expressed frustration at limited communications with their daughters.

BuzzFeed reported that two families sought help from the police, but the women rebuffed attempts by the authorities or their parents to investigate or bring them home.

The parents of one alleged victim held a news conference outside the residence near Atlanta and said their daughter, 21, had cut off contact. "My daughter is severely brainwashed," the mother, Ms Jonjelyn Savage, said.

In a video interview with gossip site TMZ, her daughter Jocelyn denied being coerced. "I am in a happy place with my life and I'm not being brainwashed or anything like that," she said, declining to give details about her condition.

She said she had not spoken to her parents as their allegations had caused a rift.

Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of the last two decades, with three Grammy awards, 12 studio albums and some 40 million records sold worldwide.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'R. Kelly denies holding women captive'. Print Edition | Subscribe