For years, the world has had its doubts about the rumored “bad behavior” of Robert Sylvester Kelly, otherwise known by his stage name as R. Kelly. Recently, Lifetime has released a gut-wrenching six-episode documentary series about his alleged abuses.
Perhaps most disturbing about all of these abuses is the fact that most of them have been meted upon young, impressionable girls whose only previous crime was looking up to the popular singer. Here we explore 40 little-known facts about R. Kelly and his potential crimes…
Kelly Was Born In Chicago
R. Kelly was born Robert Sylvester Kelly on January 8, 1967, in Chicago and was the third of four children. His mother Joanne was a singer and a single mom who chose to raise her kids Baptist, just as she had been.
He Was Poor
Kelly grew up in the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing project in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. Nevertheless, his poor upbringing did little to stifle his ambition. His mother knew almost immediately that her son would follow in her footsteps and encouraged him to sing in the church choir at age eight
He Was Raised Without A Father
Kelly’s father was never really in the picture and though his mother had done her best, the lack of an older male authority figure obviously had some effect on the singer’s developmental years. When he was eight, tragedy struck in the form of his first girlfriend, a girl named Lulu.
His Childhood Friend Died
Lulu and Kelly would often play together, eating make-believe meals in an old playhouse they built from cardboard. But one of their play-dates ended in tragedy when they fought with some older children in a play area by a creek. Lulu was pushed into the water and swept downstream. She drowned and Kelly would never be the same.
He Was Molestated As A Child
A year before Lulu’s death, Kelly had apparently faced a secret trauma all his own. He never said who did it, but he admitted that from age 7 to 14, he was sexually molested by people in his family. His friendship with Lulu had been a means of escape, one he’d now lost.
He Kept It All Secret
“As a kid, I had lots of secrets,” Kelly explained in an interview with The Chocolate Factory. “Some were terrible, some were beautiful, some were both. One secret was about what was happening to me at home.” In that way, Kelly’s life was framed by secrets.
He Started A Music Group When He Was In His Teens
Kelly was a teenager when he began performing beneath the Chicago “L” tracks with a group of his friends. Along with Marc McWilliams, Vincent Walker, and Shawn Brooks, Kelly and his friends formed the group MGM (Musically Gifted Men).
They Released Their First Single In 1990
The group released a single in 1990 but disbanded soon after.
At 27, He Married A 15-Year-Old
A few years later, after Kelly’s career had begun to take off, the then 27-year-old singer secretly, and illegally, married his 15-year-old protege, singer Aaliyah. The surreptitious ceremony was conducted by Reverend Nathan J. Edmond and was only finagled thanks to some help from Kelly’s former personal assistant.
His Manager Helped Him Forge Paperwork Lying About Her Age
Demetrius Smith had once served as Kelly’s personal assistant and tour manager and it was he who helped Kelly obtain forged legal documents to make Aaliyah appear 18, and therefore perfectly legal to be married. Eventually, the marriage was discovered and quickly annulled, but there were further complications.
A Witness Later Alleged She Saw Kelly HAving Sex With A 14-Year-Old
A few years later, a former backup singer named Jovante Cunningham would allege that she saw Kelly having sex with Aaliyah on their tour bus one night when she was only 14…making him 12 years his senior. She had seen it on accident, of course, the door had swung open but the rendezvous was now out there.
He Confided In His Manager That He May Have Gotten Her Pregnant
There were rumors, of course, that said Aaliyah may have been pregnant at the time and that the marriage was one of necessity. It wasn’t until 2018 that Demetrius Smith came forward about the conversation he’d had with Kelly wherein the singer told him he was nervous he’d gotten the girl pregnant.
He Lost Another Very Close Friend In A Plane Crash
Because Aaliyah and eight others would be killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001, no one may ever know the truth about the situation or what happened to the alleged love child. Aaliyah’s case would not be the first time R. Kelly would find himself accused of misconduct with his younger victims and in time, younger fans as well.
He Married One Of His Backup Dancers
Regardless of the Aaliyah scandal, Kelly ended up moving on with his life and ended up marrying former backup dancer, Andrea Lee in 1996. He proposed to her and wed her in a small Denver hotel room, without any of their family presents. Unbeknownst to her, this seemingly innocuous thing set the tone for their whole sordid marriage.
They Had Three Children Together
After that strange night, Andrea’s contact with her family back home would severely decrease. When she moved into the house he built in Olympia Fields a year later, things only got worse. Kelly was controlling to a fault and his needs became her main focus. Though they would have three kids over the course of their turbulent relationship.
He Was A Serial Cheater
The singer was a master manipulator and despite various alleged extramarital affairs, he managed to keep most of his secret liaisons private; even from each other. It wasn’t until 2002, when her husband moved from Chicago to Florida without warning, that Andrea would reach her boiling point with R. Kelly.
He Even Cheated While She Was Pregnant
Despite Andrea being pregnant at the time, Kelly ordered his security guards to escort his wife with them across the nation, causing her unborn son an unneeded amount of stress. When she finally got to Florida, Andrea was taken to a local hospital in order to be induced early. Thankfully, doctors were able to save the life of Robert Kelly Jr.
He Was Arrested For Child Pornography
A few days after that, just as she was recovering from her imposed ordeal, Andrea found out that her husband had been arrested on charges of child pornography. She had three children now, reporters were everywhere, and on top of all that, Kelly was still mistreating her. It pushed her to the brink of suicide.
He Treated The Mother Of His Children So Badly That She Contemplated Suicide
“I remember going out on the balcony and climbing up on the ledge, like, ‘God, I can’t take another day. I can’t do this anymore’…He had taken me to a place where I was willing to leave my babies,” she explained in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly.
He Was Accused Of 15 Different Types Of Abuse
Andrea didn’t commit suicide, instead, she sought help from the National Domestic Violence Awareness Hotline. R. Kelly was accused of all but two of the 17 questions they asked regarding her abuse. With Kelly still under scrutiny and police custody, Andrea took her chance. She took money, her kids, and a duffel bag and never turned back.
His Second Marriage Ended In Divorce
The divorce was finalized in 2009, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Andrea came forward to speak on some of the abuses she suffered in the marriage. Some of these included him leaving her hogtied in bed for hours and assaulting her in the back of his Hummer. It was proof enough that something was wrong with R. Kelly.
His Sex Tape Leaked
Kelly’s 2002 arrest hadn’t just been for him possessing child pornography, it had been because the singer’s R-rated R. Kelly Triple XXX child pornography tape had leaked onto the Internet. His life was falling apart, along with his career, and his public image. Soon, other accusers began coming forward.
He Tried To Bribe A Singer To Refute Abuse Claims
A Singer named Sparkle was soon offered a whopping six figures in order to speak on Kelly’s behalf and refute the sexual assault claims. The plan was to tell the press that things were good between them and that no harm had been done. She refused the offer, saying that she wouldn’t sell herself or her niece (the 14-year-old girl on the R. Kelly sex tape) out like that.
When She Denied, Kelly Went To Her Brother
In court, Sparkle explained that she had introduced the girl to the alleged pedophile when she was only 12 and explained Kelly’s six-figure offer in detail and her reasons for refusing it. “I didn’t take the money, because I can’t be bought,” she said. But she admits that her family might have been bought off as her brother-in-law was still playing guitar with him for some time after.
Next, He Tried Bribing His Own Brother
The Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” brings up many different alleged victims of the singer, many of whom were offered payoffs and who were just like Sparkle, her niece and even Kelly’s younger brother, Carey. Apparently, Kelly offered Carey $100,000 and promised him a record deal to refute claims about R. Kelly’s history of abuse.
He Was Denied Again
According to R. Kelly’s other brother, Bruce, Carey never ended up taking his brother up on the offer. Bruce is one of the few people who seem to be supporting his brother throughout all this. Nevertheless, Kelly’s 2002 troubles only continued as the years went on. Though many of his alleged crimes never made the news.
Photographs Of Him With Underage Girls Emerge
One might think that R. Kelly would have stayed away from any sort of teenage girls after that point, but that was not the case. Child pornography charges and some pretty compelling photographic evidence didn’t stop him from communicating with other teenage fangirls, especially when a slew of teen fans came to cheer him on during his 2008 court proceedings.
Again, He Prayed On A 14-Year-Old
Kelly kept at it, eventually running into 14-year-old mega fan Jerhonda Pace. She and Kelly met many times outside the court and it changed her life forever. Not because she had met her idol, but because the contact information they eventually exchanged would result in a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to Kelly’s suburban Illinois mansion.
He Spoke About His Abusive Childhood To The Girl At An Album Release Party
In 2009, R. Kelly released an album and held a listening party. Jerhonda Pace was invited to his luxurious home to listen and “hang out” with the singer. After several hours of talking, Jerhonda learned that Kelly had been abused as a child. It was something she could relate too because she too had been abused by someone when she was 4,6, and 8 years old.
He Got Her To Open Up About Her Virginity
“He talked about being molested as well, and he told me he was molested by an older guy in his neighborhood,” Jerhonda explained. “I felt like we had a connection…” Little did she know that Kelly’s admission was little more than manipulation, intended to get her to do what he wanted. Throughout the course of their conversation, Jerhonda eventually confessed that she was a virgin.
He Then Performed Oral Sex On Her
When he heard this, Kelly allegedly responded, “Well, that’s perfect. That means I get to train you and I get to take your virginity…” According to her, he then proceeded to perform oral sex on him and demanded that she reciprocate after.
He Was Suspected Of Literally Kidnapping Girls
Jerhonda wasn’t the only one who fell prey to Kelly’s charms. There are many girls out there who have associations with Kelly whose parents haven’t seen or heard from them in years. So what has Kelly been doing with all these teen girls and where are they today?
One Girl Ran Away From Her Parents For Four Years To Be With Him
Joycelyn Savage, one of those apparently missing girls, originally met R. Kelly in 2015, when she was only 19 years old and attending college in Atlanta. The last time Jocelyn’s parents have spoken to her was in 2016, when she was featured in a TMZ video and claimed she was okay and wasn’t being held against her will.
A Former Employee Accused Him Of Brainwashing The Girl Into Lying To TMZ
One of Kelly’s former employees, who has chosen to remain anonymous, believes that Kelly scripted the TMZ stunt in order to keep the public off him and out of their lives. He also claims that Kelly doesn’t allow any of the alleged multiple girls at his home to say anything that he has not told them to say. This includes contacting their families.
He Allegedly Ran A Sex Cult
All of these women that Kelly has maintained “relationships” with have allegedly been brainwashed by the singer. There is evidence that those who live with Kelly have a sort of cult-like mentality when it comes to their supposed leader/lover/idol.
One Of His Many Girlfriends Left Him After Seeing His 2002 Sex Tape
One of the survivors and escaped members of Kelly’s reported entourage is Kitti Jones, a girl he met in Dallas in 2011. At first, she accepted that Kelly had many girlfriends and was happy to be one of them, it wasn’t until she viewed the infamous sex tape from 2002 that she realized something was very wrong.
She Went To Rolling Stone To Tell Her Story
Jones remembered meeting a girl at Kelly’s home, the same girl he had molested in the tape and it was then that she realized she had to go. She left him in 2013 but waited four more years before telling Rolling Stone about the alleged abuse. By that time though, the world was catching on to R. Kelly’s sordid secret life.
He Was Disavowed By Major Artists
Many people who have collaborated with Kelly, including hip hop artist Chance The Rapper, have come forward since then to explain that they have since changed their opinion of the singer. “Making a song with R. Kelly was a mistake. I didn’t value the accusers’ stories because they were black women. I made a mistake,” he admits in the documentary.
Friends And Family Finally Came Out On A Lifetime Documentary
The Surviving R. Kelly documentary features more than 50 testimonies from assorted journalists, family members, fellow musicians, and many members of Kelly’s circle throughout his career. They have all come forward to share their experiences and hopefully shed light on the singer’s alleged abuses.
Now He Is Suing Lifetime
As expected, R. Kelly has denied all claims from the people in the documentary and any crimes he has not been convicted of in a court of law. He also has plans to sue the Lifetime Network in the coming months. Nevertheless, the damage is done, and R. Kelly’s secrets, true or not, have finally been laid bare for all to see.