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R. Kelly: Why So Many Ignored the Warning Signs

By: Maya Salam-NY Times

“He stole my life from me.”





— Lizette Martinez, who says she was controlled and abused by R. Kelly as a teenager

For decades, R. Kelly has enjoyed astronomical fame despite consistent and disturbing claims that he has sexually, mentally and physically abused teenage girls.

Last week, Lifetime aired a six-part documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” to monster ratings. In it, many people who knew him — including numerous women who claimed they were abused by Mr. Kelly as teenagers — gave wrenching accounts of their experiences.

Credit: Franziska Barczyk-NY Times

“He stole my life from me.” — Lizette Martinez, who says she was controlled and abused by R. Kelly as a teenager

For decades, R. Kelly has enjoyed astronomical fame despite consistent and disturbing claims that he has sexually, mentally and physically abused teenage girls.

Last week, Lifetime aired a six-part documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” to monster ratings. In it, many people who knew him — including numerous women who claimed they were abused by Mr. Kelly as teenagers — gave wrenching accounts of their experiences.

“R. Kelly has been preying on young and vulnerable women — black women mostly — and he has built an ecosystem around his predation,” dream hampton, executive producer of the documentary, told WNYC’s “The Takeaway” this week.

[Read more about the decades of sexual abuse allegations detailed in the documentary and also why it might be hard to #MuteRKelly.]

Mr. Kelly, 52, has denied all these allegations from the beginning. But the documentary was enough to prompt investigators in Chicago and Atlanta to look into current claims that Mr. Kelly has established a sort of sex cult, holding girls against their will, in homes in those cities.

While he’s never been found of wrongdoing, the question remains: How could so many have continued to celebrate him and his music, and given him the benefit of the doubt, for so long? Here are five possible reasons. Read More