R. Kelly’s Grave Keeps Getting Deeper
In a wild and surprising-yet-not-surprising-at-all interview with Gayle King, R. Kelly had a complete meltdown. If you haven’t been following the disturbing saga of Kelly’s sexual offenses, let me catch you up to speed.
In 1994, Kelly, who is 27 years old at the time, allegedly marries his protégé Aaliyah, who is 15 years old. Once Aaliyah’s family catches news of the illegal marriage, it is quickly annulled. In 1996, Kelly marries Andrea Lee, who would later become the mother of his children. Later that same year, Tiffany Hawkins accuses Kelly of physical and emotional abuse during a sexual relationship that began when she was merely 15 years old. Fast forward to 2000, a report is published in the Chicago Sun-Times alleging that Kelly has sexual relations with underage girls. The following year, the Chicago police receive a sex tape that reportedly shows Kelly with a younger woman. Over the next two years, another sex tape is turned over to the police and three more women come forward, accusing Kelly of sexual misconduct, including sexual engagement with underage girls and non-consensual filming. In 2002, Kelly is arrested on 21 charges of child pornography, but is later found not guilty by a jury in 2008.
Then, in 2017, Buzzfeed publishes an exposé claiming that Kelly is physically, emotionally, and sexually abusing women in his own cult. However, Kelly and women in the so-called “entourage” deny these claims. Afterwards, multiple women courageously choose to step forward and reveal that R. Kelly had entered a sexual relationship with them when they were underage and/or sexually assaulted them. At the beginning of 2019, the docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” is released, giving firsthand accounts of the accusations of sexual abuse and further tarnishing Kelly’s reputation. He is then dropped by RCA records and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in February.
Now jumping back to present day, it’s deeply disturbing to witness Kelly’s physical and emotional behavior during the Gayle King interview. Apparently, amidst all the public backlash against him, Kelly and his team had reached out to King for an interview to allow Kelly the opportunity to explain and defend his side of the story. The move to set up an interview is most likely an attempt to paint Kelly as the victim and gain the public’s sympathy. However, things quickly derail as Kelly becomes hysterical when confronted with the allegations against him. He starts off calm but is defensive from the get-go. Then, as King starts to bring up the various accusations of sexual assault and abuse, it doesn’t take long before Kelly stands up, yells directly into the camera, and pounds his chest in frustration.
From the beginning, Kelly’s behavior feels fraudulent. Without fail, he vehemently denies all allegations and attempts to flip the script at every turn, desperately wanting to be seen as the victim of the story. At the height of his tantrum, he exclaims, “I’m fighting for my f*cking life!” directly into the camera, visibly distressed over the downfall of his career, destruction of his reputation, and inability to see his kids. Without invalidating his emotions, I am concerned with the undeniably violent nature of his physicality when he gets upset. If this is how he acts in front of cameras, how does he behave behind closed doors?
With allegations and evidence this damning, I’m completely dumbfounded at how the 52-year-old singer has been walking around as a free man for decades. Despite the multiple, public accusations of sexual abuse and relationships with minors, R. Kelly continued to top the charts and be hailed as the “King of R&B” for more than 20 years. How is it that we had to wait this long to take these accusations seriously? Does creative “genius” blind and coerce us into looking the other way, just like it did with Michael Jackson and Woody Allen? It shouldn’t require us 20 years and an explosive media frenzy to pay attention to accusations of sexual assault and abuse. Regardless of talent and celebrity, we need to stop praising and celebrating these public figures and see them for who they truly are: abusers.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence and/or assault, you can call 800.656.HOPE (4673). It’s completely anonymous and can connect you with any necessary resources.
Julia Eunji Choi