Sony Music bowed to pressure from activists on Friday when the company and its label RCA dropped R. Kelly two weeks after a disturbing documentary called renewed attention to the singer’s long history of alleged abuse, multiple outlets have reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.
The move also comes as one of Kelly’s accusers, Tracy Sampson, gave a new interview to NBC’s “Dateline” to share her alarming story. Sampson said the singer sexually abused her beginning when she was 16 years old and working as an intern for Epic Records, which is also owned by Sony.
“I just didn’t know what to do. Like, I didn’t know if this was normal. I didn’t know if this is how adults acted,” she said on the program.
Kelly has denied any wrongdoing.
Variety noted that Sony will not formally announce the dissolution of its relationship with the embattled singer, who was dropped from RCA’s website on Friday afternoon. Variety’s sources also said Kelly’s absence from the website was not indicative of a break with the label, noting that Sony still controls his back catalog.
HuffPost’s multiple requests for comment from Sony and RCA were not immediately returned.
Protesters began to target the music giant after Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” rekindled the #MuteRKelly movement, aimed at bringing consequences to the singer for his alleged actions.
A small group of protesters had stood outside Sony’s New York headquarters on Thursday demanding the company sever its ties with Kelly. Last week, feminist activist group UltraViolet commissioned a plane to fly over Sony Music’s Culver City, California, headquarters trailing a banner that read, “RCA/SONY: DROP SEXUAL PREDATOR R KELLY.”
The six-part documentary series ― the result of around 50 interviews ― detailed stories from several women who said the singer manipulated and sexually abused them when he was significantly older than they were.
The women have continued to speak out. One, Faith Rodgers, said in an interview on “CBS This Morning” this week that Kelly tried to threaten her into silence. Rodgers sued Kelly in April, alleging he “initiated nonconsensual” sex and intentionally infected her with genital herpes.
Kelly’s reputation as a predator first came to light when the singer married then-15-year-old Aaliyah when he was 27. (The marriage was annulled, and Kelly has said that he believed Aaliyah was 18.)
But the singer has never been convicted of sexually abusing underage girls. Although he faced child pornography charges in 2002, after a videotape surfaced appearing to show the singer having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl, he was later acquitted. The same year, in 2002, Sampson settled a lawsuit with Kelly over the alleged abuse for $250,000. The singer has faced other similar legal challenges.
Parents of one woman, Joycelyn Savage, say Kelly has prevented their daughter from getting in touch with them since she went to live at one of his mansions.
A former manager for Kelly, Henry Mason, turned himself in to law enforcement in Georgia on Friday on charges that he threatened to kill Joycelyn’s father, Timothy Savage.
Law enforcement in Chicago and Atlanta have asked other accusers to come forward as they look into the singer’s behavior.