Earlier this week, the Time’s Up organization launched a campaign to “mute” R. Kelly, calling out the R&B singer for the decades of sexual misconduct allegations that have been levelled against him. Now, two more women have spoken out about alleged mental and physical abuse from the singer.
BuzzFeed has published the accounts of a woman who was in an abusive relationship with Kelly for four years in the late 1990s, and another who says her daughter is still part of the alleged “cult” that the site wrote about last July.
UPDATE (5/4, 5 p.m. EDT): The Washington Post has also ran a story investigating the multiple claims against R. Kelly. In that piece, two women who had not previously spoken out against the singer claimed they too were victims of abuse. You can read that extensive story, which includes interviews with six alleged victims, here.
In the BuzzFeed article, the first woman, Lizzette Martinez, told the publication her relationship with Kelly began after meeting him at a Miami shopping mall as a 17-year-old high school student.
“I was at the mall with my girlfriend, and I was an aspiring singer in an R&B group, so I knew of him,” Martinez said. “I followed music, and I saw him with a really tall guy, maybe 7 feet tall, and I said to my friend, ‘Oh, that’s R. Kelly.’ I guess he overheard me, and he came over and gave me a hug, and I was kind of stunned. Then he walked away, and his bodyguard came and gave me his phone number.”
Martinez told BuzzFeed that the relationship became sexual within the first month, adding that she had told Kelly her age earlier on. She said Kelly, then 28, knew she was underage when he took her virginity. The age of consent in Florida is 18.
“The first time I had sex with him there was a party going,” she said. “Some of his crew gave me alcohol and I was drunk basically when we had sex.”
Both Martinez’s mother and friend confirmed she had told them about the encounter not long after.
Martinez said that when she and Kelly were together “it was very controlled: what I wore, how I spoke, who my friends were, who I could bring around… I did these things, and I felt like it was always — he was directing stuff. You know, it felt really weird. He was really overbearing… I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ But he has a way with people, with women. He’s just so controlling, so abusive.”
Martinez also said Kelly hit her five times during the relationship. She also revealed she became pregnant with his child, though she miscarried.
The second woman, Michelle, told BuzzFeed that her now-27-year-old daughter (who BuzzFeed refers to as N.) began a relationship with Kelly at age 17. The site is withholding the woman’s last name to protect her daughter’s privacy as an alleged abuse victim.
Michelle told BuzzFeed that N. first kept the relationship a secret, learning about it through one of her daughter’s friends. In July of 2009, she called police to see if her daughter was at Kelly’s mansion in Chicago suburb Olympia Fields, while another girl who was in a relationship with the singer told the publication that Kelly ordered the women to hide and did not allow officers into the home.
Months later, N. was offered a job as Kelly’s personal assistant. “I’m like, you know about all this stuff that he did and all that? And she was like, ‘That’s in his past, that stuff. You always tell me to give people a chance.’ So I said okay, and she became his assistant,” Michelle told BuzzFeed. “All through that time, her being his assistant, she still lived at home.”
In mid-2014, N. told Michelle she was moving to Atlanta with Kelly and left home for good. Michelle told BuzzFeed that N. began using a new phone Kelly had given her after the move, “But it wasn’t a number that I could reach her.”
Having not seen N. since the summer of 2016, Michelle described the few phone calls she’s received from her daughter in recent years as being “like prison calls.” BuzzFeed noted that the FBI interviewed Michelle in September of last year, but she has heard nothing since.
You can read the entire BuzzFeed piece here.
Upon the launch of #MuteRKelly earlier this week, a representative for the singer called the campaign an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”