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Petition Urges Record Label To Drop R. Kelly In Light Of Abuse Allegations

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 19, 2017 6:39PM

Getty Images / Photo: Mike Pont

A petition has launched in the wake of Buzzfeed's bombshell investigation of R. Kelly urging the R&B artist's record label to drop him, in light of the reports allegations that Kelly is holding women against their will.

"R&B singer R. Kelly has preyed on teenage girls for the past 25 years, the Care2 petition, which was launched on Tuesday. reads. "It's time our society stops his cycle of abuse. Join us in telling Sony to #DropRKelly for habitually preying on teenage girls for the past 25 years!"

Kelly is signed to RCA Records, which is owned by Sony Music. A representative for RCA did not immediately return a request for comment. Kelly's lawyer, in a statement to USA Today on Monday said in part, "Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name."

The Buzzfeed report, written by longtime Chicago music journalist Jim DeRogatis, brings to light new allegations that Kelly is holding several women in "cult"-like environments, in suburban Chicago and Atlanta. Kelly "controls every aspect" the lives of six women living in the homes, according to the accusations. Kelly dictates "what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records," DeRogatis reported.

One of Kelly's alleged captives, a woman identified as Joycelyn Savage, 21, said in a video interview published on Tuesday that she's "totally fine" but did not answer questions pertaining to her location or whether her freedom was restricted. The girl's parents said she was "clearly being coached."

As the petition reminds, Kelly has been at the center of a series of scandals related to underage girls:

In 1994, R. Kelly illegally married 15-year-old Aaliyah, and in 2002, he was indicted on 14 counts of child pornography. He was acquitted six years later because neither the alleged victim nor her parents were willing to testify, but more than 40 others took the stand to confirm that the girl in the video was the 14-year-old girl.

DeRogatis first reported on Kelly's alleged sexual crimes in 2000. In 2002, he received a videotape that appeared to show Kelly in the midst of a sex act with an underage girl—footage which prompted the 2008 child-pornography trial.

DeRogatis in an interview with Slate said that he thinks, despite all the allegations, Kelly's career hasn't paid a cost.

He told Josh Levin at Slate:

"I think in some sick corners, it has made him more appealing. I think it was part of a vicarious thrill that Pitchfork Music Festival booked him as the headliner in 2013, and he was on The Tonight Show two nights before Christmas. How much more mainstream does it get?"

DeRogatis in the interview again brought up what he has long considered central to Kelly's seeming imperviousness to such charges: "I think the biggest factor is one that the African-American scholar Mark Anthony Neal has said: These are all young African-American women, and I think if there had been a white girl it would have been different."

The online petition had gathered more than 8,000 signatures as of early Wednesday afternoon.