R&B singer R. Kelly on Monday denied a report by 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," Kelly's attorney Linda Mensch said in a statement.
In a lengthy BuzzFeed report by Chicago-based music journalist, English professor and radio-show host Jim DeRogatis, the parents of three young women, as well as three former members of Kelly’s inner circle, alleged that six women live in two rented properties in the Chicago and Atlanta suburbs in an atmosphere of complete control, including over their food, dress and sleeping hours. They added that Kelly shoots video of himself having sex with the women, which he then shows to friends.
Kelly has not been charged with any crime at this time.
Buzzfeed, in an emailed statement to Reuters Monday, said, "we stand fully behind the story, which was based on nine months of interviews and old-fashioned investigative reporting."
One parent, identified only as J. to protect the victim’s and the family’s privacy, said it seemed as if their daughter was "brainwashed." BuzzFeed said it had independently confirmed their identities. When they last saw their daughter on Dec. 1, 2016, “[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” J. said. “I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she’s in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her. I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”
The 50-year-old Kelly’s associates, Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, told BuzzFeed that the women range in age from 19 to 31, and that they are required to call Kelly “Daddy” and ask him permission for routine daily things. Their cell phones are confiscated and replaced with ones only allowing contact with him or, with his consent, select others. A black SUV with what BuzzFeed described as “a burly driver” is stationed outside each of the two properties.
The report said that welfare checks by police in both states over the past year led to no charges. One of the women told Cook County police she was “fine and did not want to be bothered.”