On CBS, an Indicted R. Kelly Literally Screams His Innocence

R. Kelly gave a tense interview to CBS This Morning, at one point standing and shouting tearful denials at the cameras and at anchor Gayle King. (YouTube)

R&B star R. Kelly has given his first interview since being charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault late last month. The conversation, which journalist Gayle King taped Tuesday at Kelly's apartment at the Trump Tower Chicago, began airing on Wednesday in three segments on CBS This Morning. The network says it will air more from the interview on Thursday and Friday.

Kelly was charged in Cook County, Ill., in February on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault against four alleged victims, three of them minors. As he has throughout his career, Kelly denied all the allegations against him during the interview. By turns belligerent, tearful and relatively calm, he also asserted that the women who have accused him are chasing money and fame of their own.

The most striking element of the interview was Kelly's behavior. In narrated commentary, King said the singer became outwardly emotional several times. At one point, he stood towering over a calm King, literally shrieking, crying, pounding his fists and beating his chest on camera while a handler held him back.

It was an astonishing visual, especially given the decades-long list of public accusations from women who say Kelly abused them—and considering that the interview may well be used in court.

"Y'all trying to kill me!" he screamed. "You're killing me, man! This thing's not about music. I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids, and I can't do it. Y'all just don't want to believe the truth!"

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Among Kelly's past accusers is his ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, who alleged physical abuse in a 2018 interview. Last month, multiple press outlets reported that according to court documents, Kelly owes more than $160,000 in unpaid child support from that relationship. In January, Kelly's estranged daughter, Buku Abi (whose birth name is Joann Kelly), posted a lengthy note on Instagram in which she called her father a "monster" and wrote: "My mother, siblings, and I would never condone, support or be apart [sic] of ANYTHING negative he has done and or continues to do in his life."

In the course of speaking with King, Kelly made a startling new accusation. King broached the subject of two women who are currently living with him, 23-year-old Joycelyn Savage and 21-year-old Azriel Clary; the women's parents have claimed that their daughters are being held in an R. Kelly "cult," an allegation first made public in a 2017 BuzzFeed investigation.

In the CBS interview on Wednesday, Kelly asked: "What kind of father, what kind of mother, will sell their daughter to a man?" He alleged that the two women's parents had approached Kelly when their daughters were teenagers, with hopes that Kelly would make their children into stars. He also intimated that the parents had received some kind of compensation from him.

Both women's parents responded to Kelly's comments on Wednesday morning. Through their lawyer, Michael Avenatti, the Clarys stated: "We never received a penny from R. Kelly. We have never asked R. Kelly for money. And we never 'sold' our daughter to him or anyone else. R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison."

The lawyer for the Savages, Gerald Griggs, wrote on Twitter: "At no point did the Savages sell #JoycelynSavage to @rkelly. No money was ever requested or given to the Savages."

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CBS says Gayle King also spoke directly to both Savage and Clary and will air conversations with them on Friday morning.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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