Following Lifetime's docuseries about Grammy Award-winning singer R. Kelly, the Fulton County District Attorney's Office has opened an investigation into allegations of his physical, sexual and emotional abuse against women, TMZ reported.
The six-part series "Surviving R. Kelly" aired Thursday through Saturday, immediately prompting controversy and backlash against the entertainer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
TMZ reported that the investigation was opened during the past few days as a direct result of the allegations made. Calls reportedly flooded the district attorney’s office after the series aired.
DA spokesman Chris Hopper told AJC.com: “We do not have any comment at this time.”
TMZ reported that investigators have reached out to several alleged victims, including Kelly’s ex-girlfriend Asante McGee. The attorney for Jocelyn Savage’s family told Channel 2 Action News they have been contacted and are speaking to investigators, citing allegations from parents Tim and JonJelyn Savage.
Kelly’s other accusers from the docuseries include an anonymous former employee, Michelle Kramer, Alice and Angelo Clary and his ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones.
The final episodes focused on Kelly’s alleged sex cult at two of his homes in two cities, including one in Johns Creek. The other home was in Chicago, where he was born.
The Savages, the Clarys and Kramer each said their daughters had been “brainwashed” while living with Kelly, who is known for hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly,” “I’m Your Angel” and “Bump N’ Grind” as well as being a prominent songwriter for other artists.
They said they hadn’t been in contact with their children for years.
In July 2017, Buzzfeed published a story that claimed the singer “held women against their will in a cult” at two houses, and he allegedly forbade them from contacting their families. They also had to ask his permission to go anywhere or communicate with anyone, and they were required to call him “Daddy,” according to the story.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx held a news conference Tuesday in Chicago and said that her office hasn’t launched a formal investigation into Kelly’s allegations, but she urged victims to come forward.
“The recent allegations against entertainer R. Kelly and the recent Lifetime docuseries are deeply, deeply disturbing,” she said. “I should stress that it takes the courage to relive and repeatedly re-experience trauma by telling your story of sexual victimization, but we rely heavily on victim accounts and witness statements to prosecute cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence.”
AJC.com previously reported that the Fulton DA’s office received a file on Kelly from Johns Creek police in August 2017, which DA Paul Howard said was not requested. At the time, he said his office wasn’t pursuing charges against Kelly but would review the file.
In February 2018, spokesman Dexter Bond said the Kelly file was still open and under review.
Kelly’s attorney at the time, Linda Mensch, sent a statement to AJC.com refuting the claims.
“Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” the statement said. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
Mensch no longer represents the singer, according to Rolling Stone. She, along with his publicist Trevian Kutti, severed ties in April 2018. Earlier that month, BBC reported that his executive assistant, Diana Copeland, also parted ways with Kelly.
This isn’t the first investigation into Kelly’s conduct with young women or minors.
In 2008, he was acquitted on 14 charges of making child pornography, and in April 2017, a lawsuit was filed against Kelly in Illinois for having an affair with the wife of a police officer. Several other civil lawsuits have been filed against the singer that were settled out of court with cash payments, according to Buzzfeed.
He also married singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15 years old. Vibe magazine published the marriage license, which listed her age as 18, but the marriage was annulled in 1995. In the docuseries, former R. Kelly backup singer Jovante Cunningham said she saw Aaliyah and Kelly having sex on a tour bus when she was underage.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.