By now, the storyline is all too familiar: A longstanding celebrity falls from grace after allegations of sexual misconduct come to light. The latest alleged predator may never have been an angel in the public eye, but the scope and extent of the allegations have still proven shocking, drawing public ire and backlash around the globe.
The lurid details surfaced last month in the Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly.” The six-episode miniseries paints Robert Kelly as a sex-crazed, power-hungry control freak who held women captive and forced them to indulge his fantasies, which often involved underage girls. This pattern allegedly played out time and time again over the course of decades. Among those who attested to his behavior were Kelly’s ex-wife and several ex-girlfriends, whose emotional interviews formed the backbone of the series.
The “Pied Piper of R&B,” as he ironically called himself, first got into trouble with the law in 2002. He faced 21 counts of child pornography charges for allegedly filming his sexual encounters with an underage girl. He was eventually acquitted of all charges at trial.
Over the years, he’s faced several lawsuits from women alleging sexual assault, some of whom claimed to be minors at the time. Numerous women have come forward since Buzzfeed published a detailed account of R. Kelly’s abusive “sex cult” in 2017, prompting the rise of the “#muteRKelly” campaign.
Since the docuseries aired, Kelly has been left with few, if any, allies. Former collaborators such as Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper have denounced him and pulled their songs from streaming platforms. Numerous radio stations across the country are refusing to play his music – including WOSF and WBAV-FM in Charlotte. The singer’s label, RCA/Sony, has cut ties with him. There’s talk of banning him from Australia following a since-retracted announcement of upcoming tour dates there. And criminal investigations are underway in Fulton County, Georgia, and Cook County, Illinois.
In the eyes of the justice system, Kelly may still be innocent until proven guilty. But that doesn’t mean he won’t face the consequences.