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R. Kelly On Village Voice Story Detailing His Sexual Assault Allegations: Shut Up

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 17, 2013 3:30PM

R. Kelly, still believing he can fly. (Photo credit: Samantha Abernethy/Chicagoist)

New Jack Swing pioneer and water sports enthusiast R. Kelly deflected questions Monday about a Village Voice article detailing past allegations of sexual assault claims by several underage girls against Kelly.

Actually that should read “question” because the subject was only raised once by Atlanta radio station WVEE-FM host Darian “Big Tigger” Morgan in what was otherwise a complete and thorough kissing of Kelly’s ass while promoting Kelly’s new album Black Panties.

Kelly said of the Voice’s story, “Well I feel like I got the football man, I’m running towards the touchdown and stopping and looking back, mess around, I’ll get tackled.”

He then switched metaphors to being on top of the proverbial mountain.

“When you get on top of anything, it’s very windy,” he said. “It’s about holding your balance once you get up there…You have to spiritually be a climber.”

Kelly finished by saying any detractors could listen to the last song from Black Panties, which Morgan eagerly exclaimed was titled “Shut Up.”

One person who hasn’t shut up about the allegations against Kelly is WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis, who first broke the story 15 years ago while working at the Chicago Sun-Times. DeRogatis has never let the story drop even as other music journalists and Kelly’s legion of fans have insisted he do so. One of those music critics is Jessica Hopper, who has gotten into a few arguments with DeRogatis in the past. DeRogatis offered to share with Hopper the documents he's compiled over the years detailing the allegations against Kelly; Hopper came away from it with not only a story but a seeming change of heart.

I was one of those people who challenged DeRogatis and was even flip about his judgment -- something I quickly came to regret. DeRogatis and I have tangled -- even feuded on air -- over the years; yet, amid the Twitter barbs, he approached me offline and told me about how one of Kelly's victims called him in the middle of the night after his Pitchfork review came out, to thank him for caring when no one else did. He told me of mothers crying on his shoulder, seeing the scars of a suicide attempt on a girl's wrists, the fear in their eyes. He detailed an aftermath that the public has never had to bear witness to.

DeRogatis offered to give me access to every file and transcript he has collected in reporting this story -- as he has to other reporters and journalists, none of whom has ever looked into the matter, thus relegating it to one man's personal crusade.

Reconciling Kelly's musical talent with the decades of allegations against him has always been a tough road to travel, at the very least. Here's what Chicagoist's own Jim Kopeny wrote of R. Kelly's set at the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival.

As I stood there watching Kelly's set, watching many music writers who I deeply admire dancing to his songs, it bothered me. I didn't think it would going in. I believe you can separate the artist from their craft—if I didn't the behavior of many artists whose craft I admire would be lost to me. And I also do not believe that this headliner was picked by Pitchfork for any reason other than organizers truly like Kelly's music. So is it a generational thing? I couldn't look at him without wondering if anyone dancing to him would still be doing so if he was in a club with their sisters or their mothers. Would they still find his brand of "sexy" something they're comfortable with? I don't think so, and while there have been some thoughtful discussions leading up to his appearance I can't help but wonder why there wasn't more frank, and open discussion.

It's clearly bothered DeRogatis, who wrote an article taking the organizers of Pitchfork Music Fest to task for giving Kelly a slot at their festival this year. DeRogatis revisited the conflicts between Kelly the musician and Kelly the alleged sexual predator earlier this year with "The Kelly Conversations" on WBEZ.

DeRogatis has one simple word for what Kelly allegedly did to scores of women—many underage and all of them black.

Rapes, plural. It is on record. Rapes in the dozen. So stop hedging your words and when you tell me what a brilliant ode to pussy Black Panties is, then realize that the next sentence should say: "This, from a man who has committed numerous rapes." The guy was a monster! Just say it! We do have a justice system and he was acquitted. OK, fine. And these other women took the civil-lawsuit route. He was tried on very narrow grounds. He was tried on a 29-minute, 36-second videotape. He was tried on trading child pornography. He was not tried for rape. He was acquitted of making child pornography. He's never been tried in court for rape, but look at the statistics. The numbers of rapes that happened, the numbers of rapes that were reported, the numbers of rapes that make it to court and then the conviction rate. I mean, it comes down to something minuscule. He's never had his day in court as a rapist. It's 15 years in the past now, but this record exists. You have to make a choice, as a listener, if music matters to you as more than mere entertainment. And you and I have spent our entire lives with that conviction. This is not just entertainment, this is our lifeblood. This matters.