Back in February, after numerous victims came forward to be a part of the illuminating six-part Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, the singer and producer was formally charged with ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse. As the public awaits the start of Kelly’s official criminal trial, more details about the allegations continue to come to light, both in a follow-up documentary titled Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact and in a new book by music critic Jim DeRogatis, who’s been reporting on the allegations against Kelly for two decades. An excerpt from the latter, titled Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly, was recently published on Billboard and it paints a harrowing picture of Kelly’s patterns of abuse.
J. and her husband Tim were the first of 14 sources who told me the same story: six women who slept with Kelly lived at his two Georgia rental properties, moving between a seven-bedroom French-style mansion in Johns Creek, a suburb 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, and a four-bedroom single-family home two miles away. The star denied the women, all legal age, any contact with friends and family, my sources said. He controlled every aspect of their lives, dictating what they ate, how they dressed, when they bathed, when they slept, and how they pleasured him in sexual encounters that he recorded. Kelly punished the women physically and mentally, my sources added, if they broke “his rules.”
Over the years, DeRogatis has interviewed numerous women—many of whom hail from the Chicagoland area—who, at one time or another, had a relationship with Kelly. One such woman, Dominique Gardner, spoke with DeRogatis about her complicated, decade-long relationship with the singer, which involved both physical and emotional abuse. In spite of this, Gardner is somehow able to look back on Kelly with a mixture of pity and forgiveness, saying, “At the end of the day, he’s a victim, too, because he went through some shit, and people—they don’t understand.”
Obviously, with so many different women involved and so many years of inappropriate power dynamics, there is a lot to dissect here. We only hope that some semblance of justice is found for the women who feel wronged by Kelly’s actions.
You can read the full excerpt from Soulless, which is due out on June 4, here.
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