R. Kelly’s girlfriends defend him and blame their parents in CBS interview
There were more tears and recriminations in the second portion of the CBS News interview with R. Kelly that aired Thursday.
The singer wept, said he had little money left and blamed his ex-wife for destroying his reputation and his relationship with his children.
“How can I pay child support, how, if my ex-wife is destroying my name and I can’t work?” Kelly asked as tears streamed down his face. “How can I work, how can I get paid, how can I take care of my kids? How?”
The conversation between Kelly and Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” is his first TV interview since he was charged with sexual abuse last month.
Separately, Kelly was taken into custody Wednesday over failure to pay child support and was jailed, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Chicago.
Kelly owes $161,000, according to the sheriff’s office.
Supporters are working to get Kelly out of jail by next week, publicist Darrell Johnson told reporters.
Kelly told King that Andrea Kelly, his former wife and the mother of his three children, was lying when she alleged on the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” that he had abused her during their marriage.
“She’s not telling the truth,” R. Kelly said. “I love her to death, I have nothing against her still. That is my kids’ mother.”
Kelly became emotional, saying such allegations have left him unable to spend time with his children.
“What kind of woman would tear down a dad who’s trying to have a relationship with (their) kids?” Kelly cried. “You know how many kids need a relationship with (their) father?”
However, the singer admitted he has “zero” relationship with his children.
“But I know my kids love me,” he said. “I’m in love with my kids.”
As of Thursday, Kelly’s children had not commented.
In January, his eldest daughter, Joann Kelly, who goes by the name Buku Abi, posted on Instagram: “I pray for all the families & women who have been affected by my father’s actions. Trust, I have been deeply affected by all of this.”
R. Kelly also told King his finances are in shambles because “so many people have been stealing my money.”
There were also tears during King’s interview with two women whose families say they are being controlled by the singer.
The pair, Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, live with Kelly and said they are in a relationship with him.
“A very strong relationship,” Savage said.
“We all are a family, all together,” Clary said.
Clary became defensive when King asked if they were in a three-way sexual relationship with Kelly.
“I would never share with no one what I do in or outside of the bedroom,” Clary said. “And as a woman (I’m) sure you would not either.”
Clary added, “There are people all over the world who have multiple girlfriends. It’s no different.”
Attorneys for both women’s families say Kelly is controlling their daughters.
But Clary alleged her parents encouraged her at 17 to take photos with Kelly and sexual videos so they could extort the star.
Savage backed up Clary’s allegations.
“Everything that she’s saying is true,” Savage said. “Both our parents are basically out here to try and get money and scam because they didn’t agree on what happened with music or whatever it could be and they are just very upset.”
Michael Avenatti, who represents Alice and Angelo Clary, Azriel’s parents, responded in a statement to CNN on Thursday, saying, “Azriel Clary is suffering from years of mental abuse and manipulation by R. Kelly.
“Azriel and Joycelyn Savage have been manipulated and convinced by him to lie to protect him from serious criminal charges,” the statement said. “Azriel’s parents never attempted to blackmail anyone and never suggested their daughter take nude photos or sexual videos. These are absolute lies fabricated by R. Kelly and we have evidence to show that these claims are bogus.”
The women maintain their parents are out for financial gain. The attorneys for both families have said they have never asked for or received any money from Kelly. The parents of the two women also deny they sold their daughters to him.
In a portion of the interview that aired Wednesday, Kelly alleged the young women’s parents arranged for him to meet their daughters, sought money from him and threatened to ruin his career.
Avenatti also responded to that in a tweeted statement Wednesday.
“We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We have never asked R. Kelly for money,” the statement said. “And we never ‘sold’ our daughter to him or anyone else. R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison. All of the victims and parents cannot be lying.”
Attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents the Savage family, provided physical copies of receipts for flights and expenses to show the family never received money from Kelly.
“At no point have the Savages requested any money from Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly, they have never received any money from Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly, they don’t want any money from Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Griggs said.
At one point Azriel Clary began to cry during Thursday’s interview, which King said Kelly was present for, off-camera, around a corner of the room out of sight of the women.
King said he would at times cough to let the women know he was there.
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth. You guys are believing this f—king façade that our parents are saying. This is all f—king lies for money and if you can’t see that, you are ignorant and you’re stupid as f–k because you want to be,” Clary said. “All because that’s the world we live in. Negativity sells, gossip sells.”
CNN has reached out to the parents of both women for comment on the allegations from Thursday’s interview.
The two women also refuted their parents’ claims they were aspiring singers.
“My parents made singing like a job,” Clary said. “It was not what I wanted to do.”
In the docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” Clary’s parents said she pushed them to allow her to work with Kelly in the music industry. The Lifetime program aired in January and chronicled decades of allegations of sexual abuse of young girls and women at the hands of Kelly, who has consistently denied the claims.
To the contrary, Clary told King, she attempted suicide because of pressure to become a performer.
CBS reported that medical records from the suicide attempt noted that Clary said it was because of a bad breakup with a boyfriend.
CNN has not confirmed that information.
On Wednesday, the Savage family spoke to their daughter by phone in a conversation that was recorded on video and released on Facebook. The family members said they had not spoken to Joycelyn Savage in two years and she is being held against her will.
After her mother says hello, Joycelyn replies, “I just wanna let you know, like right now I need you to listen, like really listen to me. I have told you guys a million, million times that I am OK where I am and I am happy.”
The interview with Kelly was first teased Tuesday night and aired in part Wednesday morning.
Kelly ranted, cried and claimed he was being persecuted in other excerpts of the interview released Wednesday.
“I’m very tired of all of the lies,” Kelly said. “I’ve been hearing things and seeing things on all of the blogs and I’m just tired.”
Kelly said those lies include that he’s holding women against their will and that he has a “cult.”
Kelly was indicted last month on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse — a Class 2 felony — involving four alleged victims.
The indictment accuses Kelly of sexual acts with three children older than 13 but younger than 17. There is no age range listed for one of the alleged victims. The charges say Kelly used force or the threat of force.
Kelly has denied the charges, and his attorney, Steve Greenberg, has said his client is innocent.