Prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta are seeking information from any potential victims or witnesses after the airing of an investigative documentary about R. Kelly that detailed allegations of more than two decades of sexual and physical abuse by the R&B singer.
“Please come forward,” said Kimberly M. Foxx, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Ill., at a news conference in Chicago on Tuesday. “There’s nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses. We cannot seek justice without you.”
The district attorney’s office in Fulton County, Ga., began conducting interviews after the broadcast of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part series that aired on Lifetime last week, according to the lawyer for a couple who say the singer is holding their daughter against her will.
Gerald A. Griggs, a lawyer for the couple, Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, said that he was contacted by senior investigators from the district attorney’s office on Monday.
A representative for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office declined to comment. Representatives for R. Kelly also declined to comment, but have said in the past that the women living with Kelly were doing so voluntarily. The district attorney’s contact with the Savages’ lawyer was first reported on Tuesday by TMZ.
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Griggs said that he provided the investigators with access to the Savages for questioning, along with additional witnesses.
The television special included accusations, first reported by Buzzfeed last year, that Kelly has been keeping women in a so-called sex cult in recent years. The episodes featured numerous women who described being controlled or abused by the singer, often beginning when they were teenagers. It also featured a series of former associates who said they had assisted Kelly with his sexual arrangements, as well as family members, including the Savages, of women who have lived with Kelly.
The Savages say that their daughter, Joycelyn, has been held and mistreated by Kelly, first in an Atlanta residence beginning in 2016, and then in Chicago. She is still believed to be living with him.
A woman who lived with Kelly in the past, Asante McGee, described the arrangement in interviews with Buzzfeed and Teen Vogue last year, detailing mental, physical and sexual abuse. She said the women were forced to refer to Kelly as “Daddy” and required his permission to bathe, eat, use the bathroom and move between rooms. A representative for McGee said that she had not been contacted by investigators.
Foxx said that, since the broadcast of “Surviving R. Kelly” — which she called “deeply, deeply disturbing” — her office had heard from two families in the Chicago area who were concerned about their loved ones’ contact with Kelly recently. But she did not confirm the existence of any active criminal investigation.
Kelly has consistently denied all allegations regarding sexual misconduct and physical abuse against girls and women. In 2008, he was found not guilty of child pornography charges at a trial in Chicago.
Representatives for the singer said last year: “All of the women targeted by the current media onslaught are legal adults of sound mind and body, with their own free will. Law enforcement officials in Atlanta and Chicago previously have made ‘wellness’ visits to check on the women in question and have found nothing to cause alarm.”
And in a video interview published by TMZ in July, Joycelyn Savage disputed her parents’ assertion that she was being held captive. “I am in a happy place with my life,” she said. “I’m not being brainwashed or anything like that.”
Local police have said they visited two homes thought to belong to Kelly in the Johns Creek area outside Atlanta in December 2016. At that point they said, “no further investigation is being conducted at this time.”
Foxx said on Tuesday that the Chicago police have visited a Kelly home there in the past.
Public interest in the accusations skyrocketed in the last week around the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary, which was a ratings blockbuster throughout its three-night run. On Tuesday, Oronike Odeleye, a founder of the #MuteRKelly campaign to raise awareness about the accusations against the singer, called reports of the prosecutors’ interest “absolutely great news.”
She added in an interview: “It’s unfortunate that it took this to get them to move on it. We had presented them with all the same evidence before.”