On Wednesday, CBS This Morning aired Gayle King’s full interview with R Kelly. The embattled R&B singer was charged last month in Chicago on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse relating to misconduct with four women, three of whom were underage at the time of their alleged assaults.
The interview was conducted on Tuesday and lasted nearly 80 minutes. At times, Kelly appeared visibly upset with the questions asked of him, even going as far to stand up and yell directly into the camera, and King was forced to pause the interview so Kelly could compose himself.
“I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive!” Kelly proclaimed. “Thirty years of my career! And y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! This is not about music! 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! You don’t want to believe it!”
Asked why he agreed to do the interview, Kelly said, “I’m very tired of all of the lies. I’ve been hearing things, and you know, and seeing things on the blogs, and you know, you know, I’m just tired.”
Regarding some of the specific allegations levied against him, Kelly denied holding women against their and using them as sex slaves: “I don’t even really know what a cult is. But I know I don’t have one.”
“How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through – oh right now I just think I need to be monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!”
Kelly also denied allegations that he’s been with underage girls. He alluded “to two case back then” that he cannot discuss due to “my ongoing case now.” “But I will tell you this,” he continued, “people are going back to my past, OK? That’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re going back to the past, and they trying to add all of this stuff now to that. To make all of this stuff that’s going on now feels real to people.”
He went on to reference his 2008 acquittal on child pornography charges: “I beat my case. When you beat something, you beat it… You can’t double-jeopardy me like that. You can’t. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to nobody. When you beat your case, you beat your case.”
King asked Kelly about the multiple victims featured in Lifetime’s docu-series Surviving R Kelly. “Everybody says something bad about me. Nobody said nothin’ good,” Kelly responded. “They was describing Lucifer. I’m not Lucifer. I’m a man. I make mistakes, but I’m not a devil, and by no means am I a monster.”
“You can start a rumor on a guy like me or a celebrity just like that,” Kelly added. “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, she can come and say the same exact thing.”
When Gayle remarked that Kelly sounded like he was playing the victim, he responded, “I’m just telling the truth. I’m just telling the truth. And the reason I’m emotional – and I apologize for that – It’s because this is the first time I was able to say something. I’ve said nothing!”
Kelly said the focus should be on actual victims. “It’s real girls out there missing! There’s real young girls out there being abducted, being raped, OK?” Kelly declared. “They really are on chains. They really do have chains on their—on their wrists and they can’t get out and they end up buried and dead.”
King also spoke to two young women currently living with Kelly, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, whose parents say they are being held against their will. Those interviews will air Thursday, March March 7th.
Update: CBS has announced an hour-long primetime special for Friday night, featuring unseen portions of King’s interview with Kelly.
Asked specifically about Clary and Savage, Kelly said, “I love them, they’re my girlfriends. We have a relationship — it’s real.” He dismissed criticism of the large age discrepancy between him and the women. He said he doesn’t look at whether the women are “younger than me,” but rather if they’re “legal.”
Kelly then accused the women’s parents of attempting to profit of their daughters. “What kind of father, what kind of mother, will sell their daughter to a man? How come it was OK for me to see them until they weren’t getting no money from me?”
Last week, Kelly pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges filed against him in Chicago. If convicted, he could face between 40-70 years in prison. He’s currently out on bail after a female fan put up $100,000 of her own money.
Kelly was previously charged with child pornography in 2002, but was later acquitted by a jury. In the years since then, the singer has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse, engaging in sexual relationships with underage women, falsely imprisoning women for the purpose of sex, and knowingly transmitting sexual diseases. The airing of the Lifetime’s docu-series Surviving R Kelly, brought renewed interest in the allegations, and led to the launching of several criminal investigations.
In addition to the case in Chicago, Kelly is the subject of a criminal investigation in Georgiaover claims of assault and imprisonment. Additionally, a second grand jury has been assembled in the Southern District of New York, based on federal investigations by the F.B.I. and the I.R.S., according to The New Yorker, and a third grand jury could soon be convened by the Department of Homeland Security over allegations of sex trafficking.
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, is confident his client will be cleared of all charges. “He’s a rock star, he doesn’t have to have nonconsensual sex,” Greenberg recently told reporters.