news: 'I make mistakes, but I'm not a devil'- R. Kelly emotional in first interview
In his first interview following his arrest last month on sexual abuse charges, an emotional and unyielding R. Kelly denied having sex with underage girls and portrayed himself as a victim of a social media-fueled smear campaign.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Kelly, was seen screaming, cursing and pleading to the camera in the sit-down with Gayle King, a host of “CBS This Morning,” parts of which aired on Wednesday. At one point, Kelly grew so emotional that King stopped the interview so he could regain his composure.
“Hate me if you want to, love me if you want,” Kelly said. “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 need to be a monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out!”
He continued, directly into the camera and growing tearful: “I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me!”
“I’m fighting for my life!” he said, using an expletive.
Kelly, 52, was charged last month in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four women, three of whom were minors at the time. He was released from jail last week after a woman describing herself as a friend of Kelly posted a $100,000 bond.
His arrest came after a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” brought new attention to accusations that he had mistreated women and revived prosecutors’ interest in his behavior.
“Everybody says something bad about me,” Kelly said, referring to the documentary. “Nobody said nothing good. 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.”
CBS released portions of the interview Tuesday night, and another portion will air on Thursday. During the interview, King repeatedly pressed Kelly about the many allegations against him. He gave no ground, and often fired back at his accusers.
When she asked him if he had broken any laws, he responded, “Absolutely not.” He said he had agreed to the interview because he was “tired of all of the lies.”
“You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that,” he 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.'”
When King asked Kelly if he had done anything wrong, he said: “Lots of things wrong when it come to women, that I apologize. But I apologized in those relationships at the time I was in the relationships.”
One of the women he is charged with sexually abusing as minors, Jerhonda Pace, said on Instagram and Twitter that what she saw in the interview “was a man that needs help.”
“For decades he’s been around enablers who never told him the truth” about his conduct, she wrote. “Him believing he’s doing no wrong is no different than an adult telling a child Santa is real.”
According to prosecutors, another of the underage girls was the same one who appeared in a sex tape with Kelly that resulted in a 2008 trial on child pornography charges. The girl did not testify then, and Kelly was found not guilty after his lawyers successfully argued that his identity could not be proved.
In an excerpt from the interview released on Tuesday, Kelly referred to his acquittal, telling King: “You can’t double jeopardy me like that. You can’t. It’s not fair.” He also said “absolutely not” when she asked him if he had broken any laws.
The new charges involving that girl are based on a newly obtained videotape, about two decades old, that came from someone who had once been in contact with Kelly. That person recently gave the tape to Michael Avenatti, the celebrity lawyer, who turned it over to prosecutors.
In the tape, the girl refers several times to having 14-year-old body parts and, according to Avenatti, the acts depicted in the video were different from those at the center of the 2008 case, eliminating any issue of double jeopardy.
King also mentioned that Lady Gaga had recently apologized for having collaborated with Kelly on a song several years ago. Kelly responded: “She’s a very great talent and it’s unfortunate that her intelligence go to such a short level when it comes to that.”
Some of the interview covered allegations separate from Kelly’s criminal case: that he has held women in a kind of sexual and emotional captivity, dictating their every move, including when they can go to the bathroom. The parents of two women now living with Kelly, Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, have accused him of brainwashing their daughters.
“I love them,” Kelly told King. “It’s like they’re like my girlfriends. We have a relationship. It’s real and I know guys like — I’ve known guys all my life that have five or six women, OK. So don’t go there on me.”
As for their age, Kelly said: “I don’t look at much younger than me. I just look at legal,” and that he was an “older man that loves all women,” regardless of age.
He also said the women’s parents had encouraged them to get close to R. Kelly to jump-start their music careers. “What kind of father, what kind of mother would sell their daughter to a man?” he said, adding that Clary’s parents had wanted her to have sex with him.
An interview King conducted with Clary and Savage will air on Friday.
In an excerpt aired Wednesday, Clary is visibly emotional.
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth,” Clary said. “You guys believe in some facade that our parents are saying; this is all lies for money. If you can’t see that, you’re ignorant, and you’re stupid,” adding several expletives.
Clary’s parents responded on Twitter via Avenatti. The statement from Alice and Angelo Clary read, in part: "We love our daughter Azriel very much and we miss her. Azriel has suffered severe mental abuse at the hands of R. Kelly for years. She is also likely suffering from symptoms similar to those found with Stockholm Syndrome. R. Kelly is a liar, manipulator and sociopath who must be brought to justice for his decades of sexual assaults on underage girls. All of these victims and their parents cannot by lying."
Kelly could soon wind up back in jail; according to The Chicago Sun-Times, a court has ordered that if he does not pay his ex-wife the $161,663 he owes her in child support by Wednesday morning, he may be jailed for failure to pay.
“I have been assassinated,” Kelly told King. “I have been buried alive, but I’m alive.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Author: Sopan Deb and Elizabeth A. Harris Source: New York Times