Parents of Azriel Clary, R. Kelly's live-in girlfriend, says she threatened suicide if they intervened
The parents of one of R. Kelly's live-in girlfriends say she is trapped in what they call a "monstrous situation." In their first interview since the scathing Lifetime documentary, "Surviving R. Kelly," Alice and Angelo Clary revealed to "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King why they are now afraid for the life of their daughter, Azriel.
Azriel met Kelly in 2015 when she was 17. Her parents claimed Kelly promised to help launch her singing career. They said they've learned since then that his real interest, in their words, was more sinister. They said they were furious to find out that just three days after meeting Kelly, their 17-year-old daughter went to a hotel to meet him without their permission. They were furious and went knocking on hotel doors to find her.
"What she said was, this was an audition," Angelo said, recounting what Azriel said to them. "'Why wouldn't you trust me? Y'all would think I would put myself in a predicament and not call you all if something wasn't right?'"
"She's saying you're messing up her chances?" King asked.
"Exactly," Angelo said.
"And that's exactly what she said. This is my opportunity. This is my big break," Alice said.
Tempers eventually cooled, and the Clarys said they actually developed a professional relationship with Kelly over the next few months. They even pitched various business deals – all of which Kelly rejected.
The Clarys said the singer had his own proposal: let Azriel join him on his tour full time.
"He flew us into Chicago. We sat with him in his studio. We met with him. And he basically told us, you know, 'Yeah, I'm starting a tour. You know, basically y'all need to make a decision,'" Alice said.
Azriel had dreams of becoming a singer, according to her parents, who say she dealt with personal struggles including a suicide attempt following a bad breakup before she met Kelly. Azriel eventually gave them an ultimatum.
"She says, 'If you don't allow me to go, I will try to take my own life again or I will run away,'" King said.
"Uh huh," the Clarys responded.
"I don't wanna call her bluff on it because I know she just attempted this previously. But… I'm thinking in my head, 'She only got three more months, she's gonna be 18, so she can do what she want,'" Alice said. "And she really carry out this? And then now I'm living with regret for the rest of my life?"
King pointed out people will still say they were allowing their 17-year-old daughter to go with Kelly. "The perception is that he preys on underage girls. Did that give you any kind of pause whatsoever?" King said.
"That gave me pause. I mean, it gave me awareness. But you're talking about a young lady that's raised by two parents," Angelo said.
"So you're saying you trusted her," King said.
"I didn't trust him. What I trusted was I raised my child right. I trust my daughter was – will be honest with us. And this was strictly her music," Angelo said. "R. Kelly had a platform as big as music can ever give somebody. I didn't see the label stop supporting him."
They said they also saw him working with other young women.
Last week, Kelly blamed Azriel's parents for their own estrangement.
"What kind of father, what kind of mother will sell their daughter to a man?" Kelly said.
Three months before Azriel turned 18, the Clarys signed a letter giving their consent for her to go on Kelly's tour and stay with a woman named Valerie Denise Payton, who they "found out later on that she works for R. Kelly," Angelo said. At the time they signed it, Alice said, "He told us it was someone affiliated with the music label."
"From Sony Records," Angelo added.
"So you thought she would be a chaperone for your daughter," King said.
"Correct," Alice said. "And we found out later there was no truth in that."
"I think in retrospect, many of these parents were too trusting," said Michael Avenatti, who is representing the Clarys. He claimed R. Kelly used his celebrity status to manipulate the families and the women.
"If what you're alleging is true, how is he able to get away with this for this for this period of time?" King asked.
"He surrounded himself with a bunch of people, a bunch of yes men and women, that would provide assurance and comfort to these parents relating to the fact that their daughters were going to be safe, that their daughters were gonna be looked after, that all of this was legit, that R. Kelly could be trusted," Avenatti said.
"From people on the inside, some of the other victims that we talked to, they all said that-- that the girls have to prove their loyalty to him by any means necessary," Alice said.
"He's the problem. He don't have a sickness, he made a choice," Angelo said, referring to Kelly.
"And this is what you guys fail to realize, it was not just R. Kelly that was doing this. It was-- it was not only just him and his handlers and his cohorts and who-- whatever you wanna call him," Alice said. "It was also our daughter, because you have to understand, she was lying and duping us and pulling the wool over our eyes from the beginning."
"When you look back on it, what do you think were the mistakes that you made? Do you take any responsibility for this situation that you're in?" King asked.
"I take full responsibility," Angelo said, adding, "We never denied responsibility… I feel like I failed my daughter because I should have saw different signs. I should have saw the change in my baby girl."
"How do you think this story is gonna end with your daughter?" King asked.
"How I want to see it end? I want to see my daughter leave," Alice said.
"Of course. But... are you concerned about how it could end?"
"I've heard, like, a suicide pact," Alice said. "You know, I know my daughter—"
"A suicide pact?"
"Yes. I've heard all kinds of stuff," Alice said.
"That gives me chills, Alice," King responded.
"It should give you chills," Angelo said. "The difference is our daughter had experience with trying to do it. See, everybody else can talk it. But it's nothing like – to see a father coming in the house and seeing your daughter submerged in water. And you have to pick her up and try to get her to the hospital. See, I've been through that. So while everybody else may take this lightly... it's real life for us."
As for Valerie Payton, the Clarys said they never met her. CBS News has not been able to confirm whether Payton had any role in Azriel's care.
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