NEW YORK — R. Kelly is blaming scorned women and social media for his latest troubles.
In his first TV interview since he was charged with sexual abuse last month, the singer ranted and cried, saying he is being persecuted.
“You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity, just like that,” Kelly told CBS News’ Gayle King. “All you have to do is push a button on your phone and say, ‘So and so did this to me, R. Kelly did this to me,’ and if you get any traction from that, if you’re able to write a book from that, if you’re able to get a reality show then any girl that I had a relationship in the past that it just didn’t work out can come and say the same thing.
“I’m talking about the power of social media,” he added.
King sat down with Kelly for a nearly 80-minute interview at his Chicago apartment, a portion of which aired Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.”
“I’m very tired of all of the lies, Kelly said. “I’ve been hearing things and seeing things on all of the blogs and I’m just tired.”
Kelly said those lies include that he’s holding women against their will and that he has a “cult.”
“I don’t even really know what a cult is, but I know I don’t have one,” the singer said.
Kelly was indicted last month on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse — a Class 2 felony — involving four alleged victims.
The indictment accuses Kelly of sexual acts with three children older than 13 but younger than 17. There is no age range listed for one of the alleged victims. The charges say Kelly used force or the threat of force.
His attorney, Steve Greenberg, has said his client is innocent.
“I think all the women are lying,” Greenberg said after Kelly turned himself in to police.
An accuser and family reacts
Jerhonda Johnson Pace, who has said that she had a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was 16, tweeted that when she watched the interview, she “saw a man that needs help.”
“I don’t believe that prison will help or ‘fix’ Robert’s actual problems… In his heart, mind, body and soul he believes he’s done no wrong. I think asylum is what he needs: 24/7 care and attention,” she wrote.
In a statement to CNN in August 2017, Kelly publicist Trevian Kutti denied Pace’s allegations.
“The allegations against Mr. Kelly are false, and are being made by individuals known to be dishonest. It is clear these continuing stories are the result of the effort of those with personal agendas who are working in concert to interfere with and damage his career,” the statement read. “Mr. Kelly again denies any and all wrong doing and is taking appropriate legal action to protect himself from ongoing defamation.”
Jonjelyn Savage, the mother of one of the woman allegedly being held against her will, sent a direct message to her daughter after the interview.
“The only thing I want to say is Joycelyn, if you’re seeing this message please know that I love you. I’m your mother, I love you dearly. Nothing that we’ve done is to defame you, or to embarrass you. Its because we care about your well being. We went from seeing daily or weekly, to not seeing you for two years. So that is a clear indication to us, as a mother that something is definitely wrong with the situation.”
The latest charges
The latest charges against the singer span from 1998 to 2010, according to Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Kelly told King he has done quite a few things wrong in relationships but said he has apologized to women for those.
He also reflected on the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” in which multiple women shared their allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of the singer.
“They were describing Lucifer,” Kelly said. “I’m not Lucifer. I’m a man, I make mistakes. I’ve made mistakes. But I’m not a devil and by no means am I a monster.”
Two of the women discussed in the docuseries — Joycelyn Savage, 23, and Azriel Clary, 21 — also talked to King about their relationships with the singer.
Savage rubbed Clary’s back as she wept in a clip King shared.
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth,” Clary said. “You’re believing some f***ing facade that our parents are saying. This is all f***ing lies for money, and if you can’t see that you’re ignorant and you’re stupid.”
Savage’s parents have announced they will hold a press conference later Wednesday in response to Kelly’s CBS interview.
Kelly told King he loved both of the young women and was in a relationship with them.
He also denied being sexually involved with Clary when she was underage, as has been alleged.
Asked if he is an older man who likes young women, Kelly said, “I’m an older man who loves all women,” and said he looks only for women who are “legal.”
The singer denied he has had sex with anyone younger than 17 and said women have lied about him.
“I have been assassinated, “Kelly said. “I have been buried alive, but I’m alive.”
At one point during the interview, he became emotional, saying, “I didn’t do this stuff! I’m fighting for my life! Y’all killing me with this s**t!”
“This is not about music,” Kelly cried out after leaping up from his seat. “I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids and I can’t do it. Y’all just don’t want to believe the truth!”
Kelly insisted he has done nothing wrong and said some of the women’s parents have told him they would destroy his career.
He said he had no reason to hold women against their will.
Kelly insisted he needed help.
“I need somebody to help me not have a big heart,” he said. “Because my heart is so big, people betray me and I keep forgiving them.”