It has been nearly two decades since veteran music journalist Jim DeRogatis first broke the story of R. Kelly’s sexual assault allegations. After spending years investigating the R&B star for theChicago Sun-Times, he confessed to a Village Voice reporter:
After an anonymous tip revealed secretly settled lawsuits and indicated Kelly had been under investigation for sex crimes department by the Chicago Police Department for over two years, DeRagotis interviewed nearly two dozen young black women that claimed the R&B singer sexually abused them.
DeRagotis also received the infamous sex tape that led to Kelly’s 2003 arrest for possession of child pornography from an anonymous source.
Now at age 50, Kelly is back in the headlines after the parents of Jocelyn Savage turned to the DeRogatis for help.
Describing the Savage’s journey as heartbreaking, DeRogatis confirmed they contacted him in late 2016 and have worked with legal authorities in multiple states in effort to locate their daughter and bring her home.
During a press conference held in front of Kelly’s Georgia vacation home where he has been accused of harboring young women, Jocelyn Savage’s parents claimed their daughter sought career assistance from Kelly two years ago and never came home. Unable to contact her or attain her whereabouts, they now believe reports that she is part of an alleged sex cult sequestered on Kelly’s properties.
A witness claiming to have lived with Kelly until last summer, Asante MacGee, corroborated insider reports and detailed their oppressive living conditions.
Under the guise of helping them with their music career, Kelly is accused of luring vulnerable young women to live in a dorm-like environment where they are trained on how to sexually satisfy him and made to perform in sex rooms while being recorded. According to former insiders, he controls when the women eat, shower and sleep and who they can communicate with. If they break Kelly’s rules they are subject to emotional, verbal and physical abuse.
Kelly’s former assistant, Cheryl Mack, described Kelly as a “master at mind control.”
Kelly has since denied the accusations through a public statement from his attorney, Linda Mensch. His alleged victim, Jocelyn Savage, recorded a strange interview with TMZ claiming she is not a brainwashed hostage. Her refusal to answer basic questions about her whereabouts and ability to leave at will — after being signaled not to respond by an unidentified person in the room with her — raised even more suspicions.
The Savage family is not slowing down in their pursuit to reunite with Jocelyn and promised more incriminating information will be released in the upcoming days. They claim to have turned over evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and are hoping federal authorities will help them in a way local authorities have not. A second family has anonymously come forward to locate their daughter, whom they claim met Kelly on tour at the age of 17. They allege she moved in after turning 18 and they have not been able to communicate with her for more than a year.
Though he was acquitted of all previous charges in 2008, DeRogatis is hopeful Kelly will be brought to justice this time. In an interview to “Billboard,” he described why he hopes for a different outcome:
Despite settling several lawsuits for the emotional abuse of minors and statutory rape, and a criminal trial in 2004 for 21 felony counts of manufacturing child pornography, Kelly has remained a mainstay in the music industry.
Far from a social pariah, Kelly has continued to produce and record with top recording artists like Jennifer Hudson and Lady Gaga, perform during the American Music Awards, and appear on popular talk shows — including “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. He’s maintained a loyal fanbase, sold over 100 million records and is currently on tour.
Kelly has always denied any wrongdoing. Even after his infamous sex tape and his secret marriage to the now-deceased R&B singer Aaliyah was made public. The marriage was annulled because she was only 15 at the time.
Music industry insiders and R&B fans have been aware of Kelly’s perverse offstage antics for many years. Kelly is one of many male celebs that have escaped incarceration and public censure after sexual assault allegations. Roman Polanski, CeeLo Green,Kobe Bryant and Casey Affleck have also maintained successful entertainment careers.
Celebrity worship makes it nearly impossible for victims to bring prominent perpetrators to justice. Fame unfairly skews public judgement, making celebrities impenetrable. Instead of holding them accountable for their actions, the public engages in immediate victim-blaming.
We have consistently ignored Kelly’s pattern of sexual improprieties, failing to denounce his pathological behavior. One of Kelly’s sex crimes has even been parodied by famous comedians, making light of pedophilia and his victims suffering.
As long as the public is complicit in his crimes, by continuing to buy his music and paying to see him perform, Kelly will have the public platform to prey on young women and get away with it.
Though Kelly’s reported victims in this case are not underage, human trafficking is illegal in this country. If the allegations are substantiated, and the families prove their daughters were intimidated into remaining in an environment where they were abused and forced to make sex tapes, we may start a new chapter in the long fight to bring the nefarious entertainer to justice for his sexual crimes.