R&B singer R. Kelly released a 19-minute song Monday where he addresses pedophilia claims and reports that he holds women against their will in a sex cult.
In “I Admit,” Kelly denies the sexual abuse allegations but says he likes older and younger women. He also calls out veteran reporter and WBEZ’s Sound Opinions co-host Jim DeRogatis, singing that DeRogatis has “been tryna destroy me for 25 whole years.”
The former Chicago Sun-Times rock critic has been investigating allegations against Kelly for nearly two decades. Last year, DeRogatis published a bombshell article in Buzzfeed News, featuring parents who allege Kelly has been holding their daughters in a sex cult.
DeRogatis joins the Morning Shift to share his reaction to the song and to break down the sexual abuse allegations against Kelly.
On breaking the story of sexual abuse claims against Kelly
Jim DeRogatis: There was a key source — a former associate of Kelly who talked to me off the record for seven years. I started this story in December 2000 with Abdon M. Pallasch on the front page of the Sun-Times. And Kelly has done this before, pleading to his fans to forgive unnamed sins. He was indicted by State’s Attorney Dick Devine in 2002 on 21 counts of making child pornography with a young woman from our community — who prosecutors said was 14 or 15. She had known Kelly since she was 12 or 13. He called her his goddaughter.
Right after that indictment, he rush-released a single that WGCI played exclusively for a day before it spread across the world, “Heaven I Need A Hug.” This source told me R. Kelly is way smarter than everybody thinks he is. He knows exactly what he’s doing and what he’s doing is messing with us all.
On his reaction to ‘I Admit’
DeRogatis: This is a joke and this is an attempt to play on people’s sympathies — that he went to Kenwood Academy, did not graduate because he cannot read and write, and was sexually abused as a young man, he says in his autobiography Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me — as if that forgives dozens of young women he’s hurt in our community, as well as Florida and Georgia and many other states for 25 years while selling 65 million albums. …
I think that this is a pathology and a compulsion that has been in full view of the world since he produced an album he wrote entitled Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number for his 15-year-old protege Aaliyah. (They) had a sexual relationship, falsified a Cook County marriage certificate, married her and those documents were sealed by the court in Chicago and in Detroit.
On the # MeToo era and accountability
DeRogatis: The reporters who exposed (Harvey) Weinstein’s behavior and the NDAs — Ronan Farrow and (Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey) — they won a Pulitzer. But I had a young woman from suburban Streamwood who had a sexual relationship with Kelly, she said on the record and proved with court documents that started when she was 16. … That woman went on the record and broke her NDA in great fear of repercussions two months before the Weinstein story broke.
The #MeToo and #TimesUp are late getting to Robert Kelly. He’s singing about them and scoffing.
GUEST: Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions co-host
LEARN MORE: R. Kelly Sings About Troubles In Revealing 19-Minute Song (NPR 7/23/18)
Timeline: The Life And Career Of R. Kelly (WBEZ 7/11/13)
Sun-Times archive: R. Kelly accused of sex with teenage girls (Chicago Sun-Times 7/7/17)