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R. Kelly’s lawyer, publicist, and assistant just quit

The R&B singer has been the subject of alleged sex crimes for years. A new BBC documentary appears to have struck a nerve among those closest to him.

R. Kelly performs in Chicago, Illinois in May 2016.
R. Kelly performs in Chicago, Illinois in May 2016.
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

R. Kelly’s lawyer, publicist, and longtime assistant have all severed ties with the R&B singer, according to multiple media reports. The news comes just after the release of R. Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes, a BBC documentary that examines the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against him — including accusations that he held women against their will in an abusive sex cult.

Linda Mensch, who was Kelly’s entertainment attorney, told BBC on Friday that she “no longer represented Mr. Kelly or his entities.” She said she resigned in February and that it was unrelated to Kelly’s “social life.” Trevian Kutti, Kelly’s publicist, told Rolling Stone he no longer represents Kelly as of April 16. And the BBC reported Diana Copeland, who has been Kelly’s executive assistant for more than 10 years, has resigned as well.

The reasons behind their departures are not known, but Kelly finds himself at the center of a disturbing scandal and allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse. BuzzFeed in July 2017 published an explosive story that reported Kelly was holding multiple young women against their will in what their parents described as an abusive sex cult. “R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet,” Asante McGee, who used to be part of Kelly’s inner circle, told BuzzFeed. “But Robert is the devil.” R. Kelly’s first name is Robert.

Multiple women have come forward with allegations about Kelly, including former radio DJ Kitti Jones, who told Rolling Stone she suffered verbal and physical abuse throughout her two-year relationship with Kelly. A woman in Dallas has filed a criminal complaint that Kelly emotionally manipulated her and knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

Jones is featured in the BBC documentary, during which she said she was part of Kelly’s “sex dungeon” and was forced to have sex with him and other people more than 10 times. Per BBC:

She believes some of the girls in the “sex dungeon” were underage, and talked about an encounter with R Kelly where he told her that he had been “training” one of the girls from the age of 14 to be one of his “pets.” Kelly has previously denied these claims, calling them false and defamatory.

Kitti Jones said, “I saw that this girl was dressed like me, that she was saying the things I’d say, and her mannerisms were like mine. That’s when it clicked in my head that he had been grooming me to become one of his pets, too. He calls them his pets.”

The BBC documentary was released in late March.

R. Kelly has a long history of sex crime allegations

R. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has for years been dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse. Jim DeRogatis, the music journalist who wrote the original 2017 BuzzFeed story, has for years covered Kelly and in 2013 laid out a timeline of his alleged misdeeds, including his 1994 marriage to singer Aaliyah when he was 27 and she was 15 and the multiple lawsuits and settlements with women who said he abused them.

DeRogatis was also the recipient of the now-infamous videotape that shows Kelly engaging in sex acts with and urinating on a young girl. He was ultimately indicted on 21 counts of child pornography, seven of which were later dropped, and was in 2008 found not guilty.

Throughout all of this time, Kelly has continued to perform, make money, and book shows. He tweeted as recently as Wednesday to tout an upcoming show and highlight a Bruno Mars cover of one of his songs.

This isn’t the first time those around Kelly have distanced themselves. Kelly’s former manager, Barry Hankerson, resigned in 2000. He wrote a letter to the star’s attorney saying he thought Kelly needed psychiatric help for a “compulsion” to pursue underage girls.