It’s been less than one week since the January 3rd premiere of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, and viewers have been shocked and disturbed by the mounting details regarding the singer’s alleged sexual abuse. And there’s now a chance that the docuseries could contribute to concrete and positive action. After Surviving R. Kelly aired, calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline increased 27% from the previous week, and a criminal investigation has reportedly been launched against Kelly.
TMZ reported today, January 8th, that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in Georgia has opened an investigation into Kelly’s alleged abuse. The website noted that the investigation developed as a “direct result” of the information revealed in the docuseries. Sources told TMZ that investigators contacted Asante McGee, one of the women who claims Kelly kept her in his house against her will. Several other victims have also reportedly been contacted. The district attorney did not respond to TMZ’s request for comment.
TMZ also reports that charges against Kelly may soon be filed with prosecutors in Chicago, and that several of his victims and their families are organizing the effort there. As of Tuesday, January 8th, TMZ stated, “Those behind the efforts said they were fanning out to find other victims who would join their united front before presenting their cases to the State Attorney.” On February 14th, news broke that a video has surfaced showing Kelly having sex with an apparent 14-year-old girl. The rappers reps have yet to comment on the video.
Kelly has been facing pedophilia and abuse accusations for decades. The abuse allegations against him are numerous, and, as HuffPost notes, they include an illegal marriage to then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah (which he has denied), several claims of statutory rape, and child pornography charges. Public outrage against Kelly has reached a fever pitch in the past several years, culminating in the Time’s Up movement joining forces with an online campaign called #MuteRKelly in April 2018. In May, Spotify removed his music from its featured playlists in response to the movement. However, so far, Kelly’s career has continued to thrive despite the reports of abuse.
This investigation is one (long overdue) step in muting R. Kelly once and for all. We’re glad to see that his accusers are finally being heard, and we will continue to monitor this situation as it develops.
If you are a sexual assault survivor and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.