The new federal indictment alleges that the girl and her parents were bribed to lie to the grand jury and deny that she had sexual contact with Kelly. Federal filings cite a payment of thirty thousand dollars to the girl’s father and a gift of a GMC Yukon Denali S.U.V. to the girl herself. They say that other witnesses were intimidated into giving false testimony about the star’s illegal acts through “physical abuse, violence, threats of violence, [and] blackmail” by Kelly and his associates. Two of those associates—Kelly’s former manager Derrel McDavid, and his personal assistant Milton (June) Brown—were also indicted in Illinois on federal charges, including obstruction of justice. This is the first time that any of Kelly’s associates have been charged. (Reached by telephone, a receptionist at McDavid’s accounting office said McDavid had no comment at this time. Brown could not be reached for comment.)
The federal filings also refer to—but do not name or charge Kelly for—his controversial marriage to Aaliyah, who was then his protégée. He produced her début album, which he titled “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number,” in 1994, when she was fifteen. As I wrote in my book “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly,” numerous people in the star’s orbit knew—for decades—about his pursuit of underage girls and mistreatment of women, including, recently, the two young women whose parents say that their daughters are currently part of Kelly’s “sex cult.” The New York indictment notes that “the women and girls were not permitted to leave their room without receiving permission from Kelly, including to eat or go to the bathroom, [they] were required to wear baggy clothing . . . were told to keep their heads down; and . . . were required to call Kelly ‘Daddy.’ ”
For years, many journalists, music critics, radio programmers, concert promoters, and record-company executives ignored or dismissed the allegations against Kelly, especially when he was generating income and scoring hits. Kelly has not released a successful album since 2013, and, at age fifty-two, he is not only a fading star but, by his own admission, “a broke-ass legend.”
It is indeed hard to escape the suspicion that the jig is finally up on Kelly in part because he’s ceased to make much money for his partners.