'Surviving R. Kelly' reignites prosecutors' interest in Atlanta, Chicago
A Chicago prosecutor has asked any possible victims or witnesses of alleged abuse by R. Kelly to contact her office. She says the allegations are 'sickening.' (Jan. 8) AP
The effort to take down Grammy winner R. Kelly as a sexual predator may have gotten a big boost from Lifetime's damning documentary on him, sparking the revival of law enforcement interest in the R&B star in Atlanta and in Chicago.
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx called a news conference Tuesday in Chicago to say she was "sickened" by the “deeply disturbing” allegations against the 52-year-old singer in the "Surviving R. Kelly" series.
She urged anyone with information about alleged sexual abuse by Kelly in Cook County to talk to prosecutors. “Please come forward,” Foxx said. “We cannot seek justice without it.”
Since the documentary began airing last week, she said her office has received calls from local relatives of women who have been in contact with Kelly over the last several years.
"While we do not have any current complaints of misconduct, we strongly encourage anyone who may have information related to the domestic violence allegations, or who suspect or have information about wrongdoing on the part of officers, to please contact Internal Affairs or the external Office of Police Accountability or Chicago Inspector General’s Office so these matters can be independently investigated," she said.
She said her office has not been in contact with Atlanta's Fulton County but would expect to share information if necessary in the future.
After Foxx's press conference, an attorney for Kelly surfaced to say the abuse allegations made in the documentary are false.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press Tuesday evening, Kelly's Chicago attorney, Steve Greenberg, dismissed the allegations as "another round of stories" being used to "fill reality TV time."
Greenberg says it is inappropriate for a state's attorney to characterize allegations she saw on TV, prior to charges or an investigation.
Meanwhile, Kelly, who once rented homes in Fulton County, has been under scrutiny since the summer of 2017 when Buzzfeed published a lengthy, deeply reported story on Kelly's alleged sexual misconduct, including holding women "against their will in a cult” at his homes there and in Chicago.
The Lifetime documentary series interviewed multiple women who claimed they are victims of Kelly's alleged sex cult, including one named Asante McGee who says she spent time with Kelly at one of the Johns Creek, Georgia, mansions Kelly rented.
In the documentary, McGee was shown walking through the property and talking about seeing women held there against their will.
Kelly was evicted from his Johns Creek homes, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported in 2018 that court documents showed he owed more than $31,000 in past due rent payments.
Now TMZ, The Blast and CNN are reporting that the office of Atlanta-Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr. has started contacting some of the women interviewed by the documentary, including McGee.
Also in the mix: The family of Joycelyn Savage, who say their adult daughter is one of Kelly's "cult" victims. Her parents and sister called a news conference in 2017 to accuse Kelly of making Joycelyn and other women his sex slaves.
Savage, then 21, told TMZ in July 2017 that she was happy, safe and keeping her whereabouts under wraps, and had cut off all communication with her parents.
Gerald Griggs, a Decatur, Georgia, lawyer who represents the Savage family, told CNN he was contacted by Howard after the documentary as part of an investigation into Kelly. Griggs said he was asked to provide a list of witnesses to events that allegedly took place in one of Kelly's houses in Johns Creek, a northern Atlanta suburb, in 2017.
Griggs did not return messages from USA TODAY.
The tale gets darker: On Tuesday it also surfaced that Joycelyn's father, Timothy Savage, told police on Jan. 3 that Kelly's manager, Don Russell, threatened him after he participated in the documentary.
Russell called Savage while the officer was there and Savage put the phone on speaker so the officer could listen, the police report says. It went on to say that Russell accused Savage of lying to Lifetime and said that if Savage continued to support the series, Russell and Kelly would be forced to release information that would show Savage was a liar and that would ruin him, his reputation, his business and his family.
The report says the case is being forwarded to the criminal investigations division for review.
If there is an investigation in Georgia, it is not clear what it would entail since Kelly no longer lives in Fulton County, and the district attorney's office is not explaining.
"We do not have any comment at this time," said Chris Hopper, spokesman for Howard, in an email to USA TODAY.
Up until now, neither Kelly nor his representatives have commented about this, the documentary or anything else having to do with his sex life. Kelly has maintained that stance for more than a decade.
According to TMZ, one of Kelly's lawyers, identified as Brian T. Nix of Chicago, threatened to file a lawsuit against Lifetime if the cable network went ahead with airing the six-part documentary – but no lawsuit appeared after the first part of "Surviving R. Kelly" aired on Jan. 3.
Nix could not be reached for comment.
In 2008, Kelly was tried on charges of child pornography in Chicago, accused of making a 27-minute sex tape with an underage girl in 2002. The girl declined to testify. It took only a few hours for a jury to declare him not guilty on all 14 counts.
Save for a 1996 battery charge, he has never been found guilty of any charges related to sexual misconduct in a criminal court.
Contributing: The Associated Press