YouTube removes R. Kelly's official channels, but keeps music, in wake of singer's sex trafficking conviction
YouTube has removed two of R. Kelly's official channels, saying that the singer's alleged history of abuse and recent conviction can cause harm to the company's community and potentially damage creator and user trust, the company told CBS News. The move comes a week after Kelly was found guilty of sex trafficking and racketeering.
A YouTube spokesperson said the decision was based on the singer abusing his power in the music industry to commit crimes, and that his actions were a violation of the company's creator responsibility guidelines. Two of his channels, RKellyTV and RKellyVevo, were removed.
Kelly will not be allowed to create or own any other channel going forward, a YouTube spokesperson said, but his removal does not prevent other creators from uploading content related to Kelly or his music. Kelly's music will also remain available on YouTube Music.
YouTube guidelines say that creators are expected to behave responsibly both on and off the platform. Actions such as intending malicious harm or participating in abuse or violence, the company says, are considered violations of policy.
Kelly, 54, was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking on September 28 after being accused by multiple witnesses of grooming and exploiting young women and men "for his own sexual gratification."
One of Kelly's accusers, Azriel Clary, testified the singer had started sexually abusing her when she was 17. Speaking to "CBS Mornings," Clary said Kelly had strict rules about what she and others were allowed to wear, who they could talk to, and how they could leave rooms.
"It was not only me, it was other women, other women who were older than me. You know, when I met him at 17, he had four other women. And so these women are all normalizing his actions. And then you have assistants normalizing his actions," she said. "And you have workers and security and everyone else that normalizes it. So, me being very young at that time, I just learned to normalize it."
YouTube said it has taken similar actions against other creators on its website, including Larry Larry Nassar, who was convicted in 2018 for sexually abusing dozens of young athletes at a Michigan training center, and Austin Jones, who was convicted in 2019 for "enticing several underage girls...to produce sexually explicit videos of themselves."
Kelly's music has become subject to criticism in the wake of his charges and conviction. The morning after he was convicted, he released a new song on Spotify, performed in collaboration with Vous.
One group, Mute R. Kelly, has pushed for platforms and radio stations to stop allowing Kelly's music since 2017, when sexual abuse allegations against him resurfaced. On streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube Music and Amazon Music, artists earn money based off of streams.
"Let them know that by financially supporting the career of a known sexual predator, they help maintain and perpetuate a system of sexual abuse against young black women," the group says on its website. "...It's time to take a stand on the side of justice and end any and all associations that the radio station has with him, his music and his brand."
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