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R. Kelly reportedly faces a new criminal investigation after Lifetime’s docuseries

After 25 years of accusations, will R. Kelly finally face legal consequences?

R. Kelly In Concert - Brooklyn, New York
R. Kelly at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.
Mike Pont/Getty Images
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

After 25 years’ worth of accusations of sexual misconduct against R. Kelly, the R&B legend may be about to face legal consequences again.

Following the airing of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly, a six-part docuseries about the singer and the persistent allegations that he has abused young women and girls, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has reportedly opened a new investigation into Kelly’s alleged abuse.

Celebrity and entertainment site the Blast, which first reported the story, says the Fulton County District Attorney is actively investigating Kelly. According to the Blast, the DA is exploring the possibility of charging Kelly with false imprisonment for the alleged “cult” in which Kelly reportedly keeps young women at his homes, demanding that they have sex with him as he pleases and forbidding them from doing anything without his permission.

(Kelly has denied the idea that he is holding anyone against their will, and some of the women in question have told the police that they live with Kelly voluntarily. Their families argue that they have been brainwashed.)

An attorney for the family of Jocelyn Savage, one of the women who is allegedly being held by Kelly, told CNN that he was contacted by the Fulton County district attorney shortly after Surviving R. Kelly aired. The office of the district attorney has not commented on the matter, and no warrant has been issued against Kelly.

However, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Kelly’s manager James Mason, who police say has threatened Kelly’s accusers. The police have been unable to find Mason.

And in Illinois, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has asked any of Kelly’s potential victims to come forward. “There’s nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without cooperation between victims and witnesses,” Foxx said. “We cannot do this without you.”

Rumors have circulated around Kelly and the idea that he mistreats young women since 1994, when a 27-year-old R. Kelly married a 15-year-old Aaliyah. (The marriage was later annulled.) In 2008, Kelly was tried on 14 criminal charges of making and distributing child pornography and was found not guilty. After the trial, Kelly enjoyed a career revival of sorts, one that was only slightly dimmed in 2017 when reports of his so-called cult surfaced.

Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly appears to have effectively focused attention back on Kelly and the question of his alleged misconduct. The series was highly watched, with each of the six episodes averaging 2.1 million viewers, and after it aired, two Dallas radio stations announced that they would no longer support Kelly’s music. “If the courts won’t take care of [Kelly] in terms of punishing him, then we’ll stop playing his music as punishment,” said radio host DeDe McGuire.

Many of Kelly’s fans continue to support him, however, and Spotify has reported that after Surviving R. Kelly aired there was a 16 percent spike in streams of Kelly’s music.

Kelly has not officially commented on the series, but his lawyer described it as “lies” and threatened to sue before it aired. According to TMZ, Kelly is planning to “expose” his accusers with a website and Facebook page called “Surviving Lies,” but the website has yet to go up, and Facebook removed the Surviving Lies page for violating its community standards.

You can read a full timeline of the accusations against R. Kelly here on Vox.

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