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.
Mr. 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, Mr. Kelly grew so emotional that Ms. King stopped the interview so Mr. Kelly could regain his composure.
“Hate me if you want to, love me if you want,” Mr. 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.
Mr. 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. 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,” Mr. 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.”
[Read more on the Surviving R.Kelly documentary that detailed the sex abuse accusations.]
He was released from jail last week after a woman describing herself as a friend of Mr. Kelly posted a $100,000 bond.
In the interview, Mr. Kelly told Ms. King that he agreed to speak because he was “tired of all of the lies.”
“I’ve been hearing things and seeing things on the blogs,” he said. When Ms. King asked which lies bothered him the most, Mr. Kelly responded, “All of them.”
Ms. King followed up by asking Mr. Kelly if he had done anything wrong, to which Mr. Kelly 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.”
According to prosecutors, one of the three underage girls was the same one who appeared in a sex tape with Mr. Kelly that resulted in a 2008 trial on child pornography charges. The girl did not testify then, and Mr. Kelly was found not guilty after his lawyers successfully argued that his identity could not be proved.
Mr. Kelly referred to his acquittal in the interview, telling Ms. 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 Mr. Kelly. That person recently gave the tape to Michael Avenatti, the celebrity lawyer, who turned it over to prosecutors.
[Prosecutors say a hairdresser, autograph seeker and birthday girl were all victims of R. Kelly.]
In the tape, the girl refers several times to having 14-year-old body parts and, according to Mr. Avenatti, the acts depicted in the video were different from those at the center of the 2008 case, eliminating any issue of double jeopardy.
Mr. Kelly answered some of Ms. King’s questions by saying that people were “going back to the past.”
In another portion of the interview, Ms. King mentioned that Lady Gaga recently apologized for having collaborated with Mr. Kelly on a song several years ago. Mr. 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 Mr. 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.
An interview Ms. King conducted with Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, two women who are living with Mr. Kelly and have come to court in support of him, will air on Friday. Ms. Clary’s and Ms. Savage’s families have said Mr. Kelly is holding the women in a cultlike environment, but Mr. Kelly’s lawyer has said they are with the singer of their own free will.
“I love them,” Mr. Kelly told Ms. 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, okay. So don’t go there on me.”
As for their age, Mr. 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.
[Meet the woman asking R. Kelly’s accusers to come forward.]
CBS also aired a clip from the interview with Ms. Clary and Ms. Savage, in which Ms. Clary is visibly emotional.
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth,” Ms. 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.
Mr. 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,” Mr. Kelly told Ms. King. “I have been buried alive, but I’m alive.”
R. Kelly Charged With 10 Counts of Sexual Abuse in Chicago
Feb. 22, 2019
An Autograph Seeker, a Birthday Girl, a Hairdresser: Prosecutors Say All Were Victims of R. Kelly
Feb. 23, 2019
Michael Avenatti Says He Gave R. Kelly Sex Video to Authorities
Feb. 14, 2019
The Lonely, and Often Risky, Pursuit of R. Kelly: ‘Where Was Everybody Else?’
Jan. 29, 2019