Two women who say they had relationships with embattled R&B star R. Kelly spoke to the “Today” show’s Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, detailing their claims that he abused them and controlled their lives, dictating everything they did.
The two, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, who previously spoke with BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone, are among a wave of women who have accused the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer of sexual misconduct and coercion over nearly two decades. R. Kelly, who denies wrongdoing, has come under particular scrutiny in the era of #MeToo.
Jones, a former DJ who quit her job to be with the singer and wrote a book about her time with him, says she spent two years in Kelly’s Chicago home. That was where Jones says she endured physical abuse, emotional manipulation and draconian rules.
“I had to wear sweatpants, I had to stand up when he would walk in a room,” Jones said on “Today,” adding that she had to ask permission to use the bathroom and lost about 20 pounds because the singer controlled what and when she ate.
McGee, who made similar claims about harsh and domineering rules, said women who live with the singer are required to call him Daddy.
Otherwise, “you’d get in trouble,” McGee said.
R. Kelly has long been the subject of accusations and rumors that span the gamut from bizarre to potentially criminal. He reportedly wed the R&B singer and actress Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15 and widely described as his protégé. The marriage was apparently later annulled.
He was later accused of child pornography after a videotape circulated that appeared to show him having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl. He was acquitted of all charges in 2008, and the legal drama seemed to have little effect on his commercial successes.
But even as Kelly continued to climb the Billboard charts and sell out giant stadiums across the country, he remained the focus of a flurry of allegations.
The veteran Chicago music reporter Jim DeRogatis brought a new round of scrutiny to the singer last summer with a series of investigative reports for BuzzFeed, including one article in which parents described Kelly’s home in the Atlanta suburbs as a “cult” where he held women against their will.