Parents of Joycelyn Savage Call R. Kelly's Behavior With Gayle King 'Disturbing'

The Savage parents, who were featured in “Surviving R. Kelly,” have accused the R&B singer of brainwashing their daughter.
Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage held a press conference on March 6 after CBS ran a segment of the R. Kelly interview.
Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage held a press conference on March 6 after CBS ran a segment of the R. Kelly interview.

The parents who have accused R. Kelly of brainwashing their daughter Joycelyn Savage called his behavior during an interview with CBS’s Gayle King “disturbing.”

Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage held a press conference with their lawyer and two younger daughters on Wednesday, after a segment of the Kelly interview aired on “CBS This Morning.”

The Savage family has publicly alleged that the R&B singer essentially brainwashed their 23-year-old daughter, who is now reportedly living with him. Joycelyn Savage met Kelly when she was 19 years old, according to her parents, who also say they have not seen their daughter since December 2016.

When asked at the press conference if they had watched the CBS interview, Timothy Savage replied, “Yes, we did watch it as a family. It’s disturbing.” 

Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage shared their story of losing contact with their daughter in the stunning six-part docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which premiered on Lifetime in January. They were just two of the parents featured in the documentary who accused Kelly of holding women against their will. Alice and Angelo Clary also shared their story of losing contact with their daughter Azriel Clary, who was 17 years old when she met the singer.

The premiere of the documentary followed the 2017 publication of a lengthy investigation in BuzzFeed by journalist Jim DeRogatis, who reported on accusations by parents that Kelly held their daughters at his properties as part of an allegedly abusive “cult.”

The 52-year-old singer, who has faced repeated sexual misconduct allegations over the course of at least two decades, denied the accusations that he has held women against their will during his interview with King. 

How stupid would that be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through in my way way past, to hold somebody –– let alone four, five, six, 50 you said ― how stupid would I be to do that?” he said.

Last month, Kelly was arrested and charged on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four victims, three of whom were allegedly minors. He was released from jail on bond, pleaded not guilty to those charges and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. 

On Wednesday, Kelly was taken back into custody after telling a judge he could not pay back child support, the Associated Press reported.  

During the Savage family press conference, the parents and their 18- and 11-year-old daughters gave individual statements sharing their worry that they barely have contact with Joycelyn, whom they said they were once very close to. Joycelyn Savage has said publicly that she was not being held against her will. 

“You have some type of relationship that you can’t talk to anyone in your family?” Timothy Savage asked. “No one? Is that normal, guys? You tell me if it’s normal. I don’t think so.”

A video captured by CBS News after the press conference appears to show the Savage family listening to a phone call on speaker from Joycelyn, who says she is “happy.”

In his interview with King, Kelly accused the parents of Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary of bringing their daughters to him to jumpstart their children’s music careers. He claimed that the parents were in it for the money.

“What kind of father, what kind of mother would sell their daughter to a man?” Kelly asked.

He also referred to both women as his current “girlfriends.”

“I can state here unequivocally that at no point have the Savages requested any money from Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Gerald Griggs, the family’s attorney, said at the press conference. Griggs denounced the idea they would “provide” or “sell” their daughter to the singer. 

Timothy Savage, who says he has never met Kelly, called the accusation “heartbreaking.” 

Lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is representing Alice and Angelo Clary, released a statement on Wednesday on their behalf: “We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We have never asked R. Kelly for money. And we never ‘sold’ our daughter to him or anyone else. R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison. All of the victims and parents cannot be lying.” 

Jonjelyn Savage said Kelly’s actions during the interview with King ― at one point he grew so emotional that he stood up to rant ― raised concerns about how he might behave away from the cameras.

“I can only imagine what he does behind closed doors,” she said. 

Watch the full press conference here