R. Kelly breaks his silence on sexual abuse claims: "I have been assassinated"
You can watch CBS News' primetime special, "The Gayle King Interview with R. Kelly," on Friday, March 8, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
R. Kelly returned to jail 24 hours after his explosive interview aired on "CBS This Morning." Court officers in Chicago arrested Kelly on Wednesday after a hearing over unpaid child support bills. Authorities said Kelly will stay in jail until he comes up with more than $161,000 he owes his three children.
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On Tuesday, Kelly broke his silence about the sexual abuse charges that landed him in jail last month. The embattled R&B singer spoke with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King for nearly 80 minutes, saying all the women now accusing him of physical and sexual abuse are lying.
"I am surprised that you agreed to do it. Why are you sitting down with us today?" King asked the singer.
"I'm very tired of all of the lies. I've been hearing things, and you know, and seeing things on the blogs, and you know, you know, I'm just tired," Kelly said.
"What are the lies that you're hearing that disturb you most?" King asked.
"Oh my God. Um — all of them, got little girls trapped in the basement ... helicopters over my house trying to rescue someone that doesn't need rescuing because they're not in my house," he said, adding, "Handcuffing people, starving people. I have a harem, what you call it — a cult. I don't even really know what a cult is. But I know I don't have one."
Chicago prosecutors have charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Three of the four alleged victims were underage when the suspected crimes happened. Kelly pleaded not guilty, but sources tell CBS News federal and state authorities in at least two states, New York and Illinois, are now investigating a variety of allegations.
Kelly has faced intense scrutiny for more than a decade, which was reignited in January after the six-part Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly." It featured interviews with seven accusers and former members of his inner circle. They all said Kelly preys on vulnerable women and young girls.
"Have you done anything that you regret, have you done anything wrong?" King asked.
"Lots of things wrong when it comes to women that I apologized, but I apologized in those relationships at the time that I was in the relationships, OK?" Kelly said.
"Have you broken any laws when it comes to women?" King asked.
"Absolutely not," Kelly responded.
"Surviving R. Kelly" filmmakers interviewed more than 50 people, including the singer's ex-wife, numerous women, their family members and his former tour manager who claimed R. Kelly abused them.
"Are you saying everybody in that documentary was not telling the truth about you? Everybody?" King asked.
"If you really look at that documentary, which I'm sure you have — "
"I have," King said.
"— everybody says something bad about me. Nobody said nothin' good," Kelly said. "They was describing Lucifer. I'm not Lucifer. I'm a man. I make mistakes, but I'm not a devil, and by no means am I a monster."
"I'm gonna name the names," King said. "Andrea Kelly, your ex-wife. Kitti Jones, Lisa Van Allen, Lizette Martinez, Jurong DePace, Faith Rodgers, Asante McGee. You're saying everything they said in that documentary about you is not true?"
"They are lying on me," Kelly said.
"Why would these women say the same thing about you? That you are controlling, that you are abusive, that you tell women when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when they can sleep, where they can dress?" King said. "Why would all these women tell these different stories about you if they were not true and they don't know each other? That defies logic to me."
"Right. Right. Until you hear the explanation. You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that," Kelly said. "All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say so and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me, and if you get any traction from that, if you're able to write a book from that, if you're able to get a reality show… then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn't work out, she can come and say the same exact thing."
"Are you blaming this on social media?"
"I'm talking about the power of social media," Kelly said.
In 2008, Kelly was found not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography after prosecutors in Chicago failed to convince a jury that he was the man seen in a sex tape with a girl as young as 13.
Last month, Kelly was indicted again, this time he was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of four women, including three who the charges say were minors at the time.
"Have you ever had sex with anyone under the age of 17?" King asked.
"No. No," Kelly said.
"No!" Kelly responded.
"I have to tell you, it's so hard to believe that based on all that we've read, and what the women have said about you and what the women have said about you," King said.
"What women said about me. So nobody's allowed to be mad at me and be scorned and lie on me?" Kelly said.
"So they're lying on you? That's your explanation? They're lying on you?"
"Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely," Kelly said. "I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I'm alive."
"So I think the point you're making is, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you have never held anybody against their will?"
"I don't need to. Why would I? How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I've been through in my way way past, to hold somebody, let alone 4, 5, 6, 50, you said — why — how stupid would I be to do that?!" Kelly said.
"I didn't say you were holding —"
"That's stupid, guys! Is this camera on me?" Kelly said.
"Yes, it's on," King said.
"That's stupid! Use your common sense. Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense. How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I've been through – oh right, now I just think I have to be monster, and hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don't let them eat, don't let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!"
"Stop it. You all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn't do this stuff! This is not me! I'm fighting for my f***ing life! Y'all killing me with this sh*t!" Kelly said, standing up. "I gave you 30 years of my f***ing career!"
"Thirty years of my career! And y'all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music! I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can't do it! Y'all just don't want to believe the truth! You don't want to believe it!" Kelly said.
At this point, we briefly paused the interview to give Kelly a moment. His publicist helped calm him down.
"I hope this camera keep going —" Kelly said. "This is not true! That doesn't even make sense! Why would I hold all these women? Their fathers and mothers told me, we're going to destroy your career!"
But Kelly's emotions remained raw.
"It's real girls out there missing! There's real young girls out there being abducted, being raped, OK?" Kelly said. "They really are on chains. They really do have chains on their — on their wrists and they can't get out and they end up buried and dead."
"I don't want you just ranting at the camera," King said.
"I came here for them to hear me talk. I need help!" Kelly said.
"What kind of help?"
"This is the kind of help I need. I need somebody to help me not have a big heart, because my heart is so big. People betray me, and I keep forgiving 'em!" Kelly said.
"You sound like you're playing the victim here. You sound like, R. Kelly — you do. I listen to you and it does sound like you're playing the victim card," King said.
"I'm just telling the truth. I'm just telling the truth," Kelly said. "And the reason I'm emotional — and I apologize for that —"
"No, no, no," King said.
"It's because this is the first time I was able to say something," Kelly said. "I've said nothing!"
R. Kelly also addressed his current relationship with the two young women who live with him at his home in Chicago, 23-year-old Joycelyn Savage and 21-year-old Azriel Clary. Their parents believe Kelly brainwashed their daughters into being a part of his alleged sex cult.
Overcome with emotion, Clary told King in a separate interview that she was crying "because you guys don't know the truth."
"You guys believe in some f***king façade that our parents are saying. This is all f***king lies for money, and if you can't see that, you're ignorant and you're stupid," Clary said.
On Wednesday, Savage's family held a press conference addressing Kelly's interview. Their lawyer, Gerald Griggs, disputed a number of the claims Kelly made, including Kelly's allegation that the families only came forward after he stopped sending them money.
"At no point have the Savages requested any money from Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly, they have never received any money from Robert Sylvester Kelly and they don't want any money from Robert Sylvester Kelly," Griggs said.
Watch CBS News' primetime special, "The Gayle King Interview with R. Kelly," on Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
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