ATLANTA, Ga. — Singer R. Kelly woos audiences with soulful and often sexy lyrics. In real life some say the 51-year-old artist preys on young, sometimes under-aged girls.
There are allegations he abuses them physically and mentally, and even holds them against their will. Recently, WREG-TV spoke with a mother and father, originally from Memphis, who told us how their young daughter ended up in the arms of R. Kelly.
“This is not modern day slavery and that’s what he’s treating them like, a slave, a sex slave, ” said Tim Savage, Father.
Tim and Jonjelyn Savage say Robert Sylvester Kelly, known to fans as R. Kelly, met their daughter two and a half years ago. Joycelyn was 19, an aspiring singer, who was invited backstage after one of his concerts.
“I think that the nephew of Mr. Kelly had wrote his name or number on a piece of paper and gave it to his nephew to give to Joycelyn, and that’s how this all came about, ” her father explained.
The Savages moved from Memphis to Atlanta when Joycelyn was in middle school. They thought it would be easier for her and her younger sister to break into the entertainment industry. They never expected that same industry would break their family apart.
Joycelyn started college. The Savages saw changes in her behavior after she met Kelly. Out of concern, one day they picked her up from campus and did an “intervention”.
They asked her to stay away from Kelly but allowed her to go back to her dorm. Joycelyn’s friends say when her father left, someone sent a car to campus and picked her up. That was December of 2016. They haven’t seen their daughter since.
Her mother said, “We had Robert Sylvester Kelly`s number but he wouldn’t answer the phone. So we gave it to the campus police. Of course they got in touch with her. And after they got in touch with her, she called us and we were like, ‘Joycelyn are you there? We need to know what was going on with you.’ And she was like I’m with R.Kelly.’
Last summer, the Savages got word their daughter was living at one of Kelly’s homes in an Atlanta surburb.
WREG-TV obtained a police report they filed.
It says they believed their daughter was part of the R. Kelly cult, stuck and in trouble.
Police visited the home, but the house was clear and no one was there, according to the report. The Savages believe their daughter now lives in the singer’s hometown of Chicago. They fear for her after talking to some of Kelly’s ex-girlfriends.
WREG-TV talked to Lisa Van Allen. She says she dated Kelly for 9 years.
“So when I met him he was really nice, calm and cool. He asked me how old I was. I told him I was 17 and he asked me, ‘Will your mother let you come to Chicago?”
Allen says she was 17 when she started having sex with R. Kelly. She met him during a video shoot. Van Allen says Kelly often seeks out young girls and routinely makes them address him a certain way.
“He liked to be called Daddy. That was pretty much it. Nothing else. Daddy, ” said Van Allen.
After several years with Kelly, she ended up a witness against him after a videotape surfaced and he was charged with 14 counts of child pornography. She testified that Kelly coerced her to make sex tapes with him and other girls, some as young as 13-years-old.
She said, “He recorded and he’d tell you what to do. You know it was really unnatural.”
Jurors aquitted him but the allegations kept coming, from former employees and the girls who left.
“You know it was like he had to be in control of everything. You couldn’t speak to people you know. If guys came in the room and you spoke to them, he would get upset,” said Van Allen.
She added, “He may cuss you out. He might smack you. Just depends on you know, how he’s feeling.”
Allen says she doesn’t know Joycelyn but met her parents after they took their story public last summer.
Jonjelyn Savage said, “Tim and I did, have been doing, research over the last year and it’s not really like a physical kidnapping where you are chained up and you can’t walk out the front door. It’s more mental.”
Despite the Savages concerns, TMZ photographers recently spotted Kelly and Joycelyn out shopping like a happy couple at a Chicago mall. A few days later cameras caught her hundreds of miles away vacationing in Los Angeles without Kelly.
Joycelyn told a photographer, ‘It’s rumors out there people are saying I’m being held captive, hostage. Well that’s obviously not true. I’m out here enjoying life doing my own thing, as you can see.”
The photographer asked her if she stands by her word R. Kelly is not holding any women hostage and doesn`t have a sex cult.
She said, “No. None of that is true. None of that is true. All of that is false accusations.”
R. Kelly’s management team has denied reports he’s holding anyone against their will. He’s not charged with a crime and there’s no indication of a pending investigation. Still, the Savages believe their daughter is being coerced and told what to say. They’re not giving up the fight to get her back.
Her mother said, “At the beginning, I was very shocked that parents feel that when their daughter or son turns 17, 18, that parent doesn’t care anymore because I care if she was 2 or she was 32. If I feel she is being manipulated by a predator and I think she’s blinded at that point, I’m going to do whatever I can to save her.”
In recent weeks, advocacy campaigns like #metoo and #timesup, targeted Kelly. They’ve put pressure on radio hosts like Tom Joyner. Joyner says he’ll no longer play Kelly’s music.
WREG also contacted RCA, the record company representing Kelly. They did not respond to our questions but the Savages believe they bear some responsibility. The family’s lawyers and some of those advocacy groups have now started to reach out to them.