Robert Kelly, 52, simply known as R. Kelly to millions of music fans, had a global audience, won three Grammy awards and sold some 75 million records. But now he is a mirror, reflecting a reckoning at the heart of the times we live in.
He is famous for the music he has given us. And he is infamous forfor over two decades. Kelly vehemently denies those allegations.
The exclusive, explosive interview "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King had with him this week is part of a larger conversation America is right in the middle of. It has to do with violence, privilege and the rights of women. It has to do with the behavior of public figures.
You may have already seen some of King's interview with R Kelly. But you haven't seen it all — not yet.
King met with Kelly in a high-rise in Chicago just eight short miles, and a world away from the Cook County Jail, where he ended up days later.
R. Kelly's mounting legal troubles
After someone paid his bail on Saturday,for the second time in two weeks. The issue: . Kelly owed his ex-wife Andrea more than $161,000 for their three children. It's the latest in his mounting legal troubles.
Kelly was indicted before a Cook County grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims.
Prosecutors in Chicago say three of Kelly's victims were underage girls and that Kelly abused them over a span of about a dozen years. As disturbing as these allegations are, they are not the only ones.
There are also accusations that Kelly has beaten, starved and held other women against their will — a so-called "sex cult."
When King spoke to him earlier this week, it was clear the pressure was getting to him.
"Believe me, man! This is not me! They lying on me! They're lying on me! I'm cool, bro," he said standing and screaming.
"All right. Robert," said King.
"I'm cool. I'm good. I'm not afraid because I'm telling the truth. I'm not afraid because I'm telling the truth!" he said covering his face with his hands.
The truth, according to Kelly, is that he's never abused women sexually or physically or held anyone captive. And he adamantly denies that he preyed on underage girls.
"I'm not a controlling person": R. Kelly responds to allegations in Lifetime docuseries
"See the thing is that I'm not a controlling person. It's just that I am in control of my household. Like, say, if you live with me, I consider myself the king of the castle and you're the queen of the castle," R. Kelly told King.
The way R. Kelly tells it – he treats women like royalty. But his recent legal troubles began when a very different story was told in January on the six-part Lifetime series "Surviving R. Kelly."
"— everybody says something bad about me. Nobody said nothing good. They was describing Lucifer. I'm not Lucifer.
"I was horrified when I started hearing about how he was operating," says series executive producer Dream Hampton. "I've heard it called a sex cult."
"Just a lot of rumors that suggest that I'm handcuffing people, starving people. I have a harem. — whatcha call it, a cult. I don't even know what a cult is. But I know I don't have one," Kelly told King.
But according to interviews in the documentary, Kelly preys on young girls he spots in places like McDonald's and at malls, using his popularity to lure them in.
The rise and fall of R. Kelly
How did R. Kelly get to this point? How he was able to thrive in his professional life despite years of questions about his personal life?
It was that raw talent that took Kelly from the south Chicago housing projects to the top of the charts. All along, he made it clear he had survived an abusive past. "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty reports.
R. Kelly denies he preyed on underage girls
R. Kelly was indicted in 2002 on 21 counts of child pornography, seven of which were subsequently dropped — he could have faced up to 15 years if convicted. He went on trial six years later and after five weeks in court, walked out a free man.
For nearly 20 years, Jim DeRogatis — a journalist and author of an upcoming book about Kelly — has been reporting on the allegations of Kelly's sexual contact with underage girls. In February 2002, he says he got a mysterious phone call telling him to go to his mailbox.
"And on the mailbox by the front stoop was a 26-minute and 39-second videotape," he told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. "The only VCR I had was in my 6-year-old daughter's bedroom. I popped 'Toy Story 2' out. ... and I saw the most horrifying thing I've ever seen."
The tape showed what appeared to be Kelly engaged in various sex acts with a minor. DeRogatis and his editors at the Chicago Sun Times turned the tape over to the police.
"We thought this was evidence of a felony, of an underage girl being hurt, he said.
So did prosecutors.
R. Kelly on whether people should still buy his music
From stages to graduations to weddings, R. Kelly's music is woven into the most memorable moments, in the lives of people across the world. Three Grammys, the six No. 1 songs — as large as the arenas he filled, to his fans, it was all intimate. Every lyric and every melody, personal.
Because that's what music is, that's what music does — breathing hope into heartache, traveling to our most private moments. Songwriters become our friends, confidants, inspiration.
But how are we to respond when "the art" and "the artist" take separate paths? When the pop fantasy crashes hard against ugly allegations.
While R. Kelly's case may prove to be the most egregious, there is a roadmap for all this — a long history, as "Entertainment Tonight" Kevin Frazier explains.
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