Veteran reporter Jim DeRogatis is no stranger to strong allegations against R. Kelly: He’s the reporter who in 2000 received the sex tape that prosecutors alleged showed the singer having sex with a 14-year-old girl, and which led to Kelly’s highly publicized 2008 trial on child-pornography charges. And while that case was ultimately dismissed, multiple allegations of sexual misconduct have surrounded the singer since the mid-1990s — including his brief and illegal marriage to singer Aaliyah, when she was just 15 — and DeRogatis has reported on all of them.
Thus it was not entirely surprising to see his byline on Monday morning’s bombshell, a BuzzFeed News article wherein three sets of parents claim that Kelly is holding their daughters in an abusive “cult.” The new report claims that the young women fell under Kelly’s sway after being brought to him by their parents in an effort to further their musical careers, but that he then “brainwashed” them.
According to parents and the former associates, Kelly keeps several young women at his homes in Atlanta and Chicago; replaces their cell phones with ones specifically used to communicate with him and forbids them to contact their families; requires they call him “daddy” and ask permission to leave the studio or their residences; films their sexual encounters with him; and abuses them physically and verbally. The three former Kelly associates who support the parents’ claims — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — have gone on the record to support the parents’ claims. While some of the parents, who have not seen their daughters for many months, have contacted police, the young women claim that they are not being held against their wills. (Reps and an attorney for R. Kelly had not responded to Variety‘s requests for comment at press time.)
The report withholds the identities of the young women but claims BuzzFeed News has verified their identities — and…