Prosecutors in Georgia are said to be investigating some of the disturbing claims highlighted in the new Lifetime series “Surviving R. Kelly,” a searing look at the R&B singer’s history of psychological and sexual abuse toward young women.
A spokeswoman for Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents the family of accuser Joycelyn Savage, told HuffPost that he and the family have been contacted by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and “are actively assisting in any way necessary.”
Savage is one of the women featured in the Lifetime documentary; her family says that she is being held captive through the singer’s manipulations.
In addition, local news affiliate CBS46 reported Tuesday that Georgia prosecutors are interviewing witnesses featured in “Surviving R. Kelly” who were not previously known to law enforcement. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, the outlet said that the witnesses, or their attorneys, were contacted shortly after the series concluded. The office is also looking into threats made against Kelly’s accusers, CBS46 reported.
Chris Hopper, spokesman for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, had no comment on any possible investigations.
Griggs has issued a call for any other witnesses or victims of Kelly’s behavior in the Atlanta area to contact him at 678-744-3185. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, whose bailiwick includes Chicago, Kelly’s home city, is also asking witnesses and victims to come forward by calling 773-674-6492.
All of the women in the documentary series who say Kelly abused them had previously shared their stories publicly, per NPR. But the series, which aired Jan. 3 through Jan. 5, has brought renewed attention to the accusations and increased pressure on those in positions of power to do something.
For more than two decades, damning stories from young women have piled up as the “Ignition” singer continued to perform on prestigious stages and record top-tracking albums. Kelly has faced accusations of sexual misconduct in the media and in court.
In 1994, at age 27, he reportedly married the singer Aaliyah, who was listed as 18 on the marriage certificate ― three years older than her true age ― to avoid legal issues. (Aaliyah’s parents reportedly had the marriage annulled, and she died in a plane crash in 2001.)
Several women have sued Kelly on allegations of sexual abuse. Aspiring singer Tiffany Hawkins, who alleged that he coerced her into sex when she was 15 and he was 24, brought a lawsuit in 1996 that ended in a settlement and a confidentiality agreement two years later. Another case was settled out of court in 2001. Aspiring musician Patrice Jones filed a suit in 2002 accusing Kelly of impregnating her and coercing her into having an abortion when she was underage.
That same year, a videotape appearing to show Kelly urinating into the mouth of a teenage girl was sent to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jim DeRogatis. (DeRogatis has now been covering the accusations against Kelly for some 17 years.) The tape led to a grand jury indictment for possession of child pornography, but in 2008 a jury found Kelly not guilty on all counts.
In 2017, BuzzFeed published a horrifying report on young women, including Savage, whose families said they were being held in an abusive “cult” at one of the singer’s homes, where they had to ask permission to use the bathroom or access their cellphones.
“Surviving R. Kelly” contains many echoes of the BuzzFeed story, which was reported by DeRogatis. It describes how a network of enablers ― bodyguards, lawyers, music industry executives and others ― allowed him to groom young women whose lives he would then attempt to control.
But this is the era of Me Too. With his long list of alleged wrongdoings, Kelly’s days enjoying largely unfettered fame and fortune may finally be numbered.