Rhythm and blues singer R. Kelly for the first time since his arrest has spoken out about the criminal sexual abuse charges against him in Illinois, in a dramatic interview with CBS News.
Kelly faces 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse from four women, three of whom were underage at the time of incident. The allegations date back to 1998. He bonded out Feb. 25 with his bail set at $1 million.
In an interview airing on CBS This Morning Wednesday, Kelly said it’s “not true” he had sex with underage girls, held women against their will or sexually assaulted them. He emphasized that he defeated two cases and similar charges years ago.
“People are going back to my past, OK? That’s exactly what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re going back to the past, and they trying to add all of this stuff now to that. To make all of this stuff that’s going on now feels real to people.”
The singer in the interview cast doubt on the accusations, saying anyone famous can be accused of impropriety in the present social and political climates. He also pointed a finger at musicians John Legend and Lady Gaga for publicly condemning him.
“I have nothing against none of these artists,” he said. “But I think it’s not professional for them to do that. Because something like this can happen to any artist. Anybody famous.
“Anybody famous can get accused of so many different things.”
The charges against Kelly followed the release of a documentary in January called Surviving R. Kelly.
“Why would I? How stupid would it be for R. Kelly — with all that I’ve through in my way, way past — to hold somebody [against their will]?” he asked. “How stupid would I be to do that?”
“Quit playing. I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me!,” Kelly said, emotional, at one point of the interview. “I’m fighting for my [expletive] life!”
There are also accusations that Kelly runs a sex cult. Kelly lives with two women, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage. Savage’s parents have said their daughter was kidnapped by Kelly. Savage told CBS This Morning she is living with the singer on her own free will. He also owes $160,000 in back child support.
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who claims to have found a tape from the 1990s that shows the singer having sex with an underage girl, said it doesn’t matter how long ago the cases happened.
“R. Kelly’s tears are out of fear and despair,” Avenatti tweeted Wednesday. “Because he knows that after over two decades of sexually abusing underage girls, we blew this wide open and have him and his enablers dead to rights.”
Kelly has a court date on March 22.