The world watched singer R. Kelly explode during his first interview after his arrest for sex abuse. Kelly — who last month pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse — increasingly lost control over his emotions during an interview this week with Gayle King.
In a new segment that aired Thursday morning, Kelly screamed and cried as he talked about his three children, alternatively telling King that his finances were drained because his of damaged reputation and because “so many people have been stealing my money."
Hours after the interview aired, the embattled R&B singer sits in a jail cell. R. Kelly, born Robert Kelly, returned to Cook County Jail on Wednesday, according to inmate records. The 52-year-old will remain there until he pays $161,000 in back child support owed to his ex-wife, a spokeswoman for sheriff’s office told the Associated Press.
“How could I pay child support if my ex-wife is destroying my name and I can’t work?" he said. "How can I work, how can I get paid, how can I take care of my kids?”
Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, was one of dozens who appeared in the Lifetime docuseries that brought new attention to sexual abuse claims against Kelly. In “Surviving R. Kelly,” Andrea Kelly described the singer as volatile, controlling, manipulative and abusive toward her.
In 2017 BuzzFeed article by journalist Jim DeRogatis — who has chronicled Kelly’s alleged behavior for years —former girlfriends and other associates described Kelly as controlling the movements and lives of a group of live-in sexual partners, including when they could eat and use the bathroom. The parents of the women said they believed their daughters had been brainwashed, with one parent describing the situation as “a cult.”
King interviewed Kelly’s two live-in girlfriends, Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, who defended the singer and claimed their parents were attempting to blackmail him. Clary was 17 when she met Kelly; Savage was 19.
“When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age. So when I met him, he thought that I was 18," Clary said. She went on to accuse her parents of pressuring her to document a sexual relationship with Kelly to “use it against him.”
“Both our parents are basically out here trying to get money and scam, because they didn’t agree on what happened, you know, with music or whatever it could be," Savage said. “And they’re just very upset.”
The parents of both women said they are only concerned about the well-being of their daughters, not money, and that Kelly’s behavior during the interview was disconcerting.
“We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We never asked R. Kelly for money," Clary’s parents said in a statement released Wednesday through by their lawyer, Michael Avenatti. "And we never ‘sold’ our daughter to him or anyone else.”
Savage’s mother said during a Wednesday news conference that “what I saw on TV this morning about the way he acted when he got upset, I don’t imagine what he does behind closed doors when he is not on camera.”
King said later on “CBS This Morning” that while Kelly had promised to not be in the room during her sit-down with the women, he walked in later and made himself known by coughing.
Allegations have followed Kelly ever since it was revealed that, at 27, he illegally married his 15-year-old protegee Aaliyah. (Her parents later had the marriage expunged.) The singer has also settled several sexual and physical abuse lawsuits over the years, and he was acquitted in 2008 on several counts of child pornography in a trial where the alleged victim and her parents refused to testify.
In the aftermath of the widely watched Lifetime docuseries, the public outcry against Kelly grew louder. Kelly and his label, RCA, parted ways, and several past collaborators disavowed him. The Cook County, Ill., state’s attorney publicly asked for any potential witnesses or victims to come forward.
Kelly now faces 10 felony counts for sexual crimes that took place between 1998 and 2010 and involved four victims, three of whom were under 17, according to charging documents.
After his first arrest, Kelly could not pay the $100,000 needed to secure his bond — a suburban Illinois woman who identified herself as a “friend” paid the money. Kelly had been prepared to pay between $50,000 and $60,000 in back child support on Wednesday, his publicist, Darryll Johnson, told the AP.