Entertainment & Arts

R Kelly hits back at Time's Up demands

R Kelly Image copyright AFP
Image caption Kelly, 51, has denied all the allegations against him

R Kelly's management has robustly defended the singer after the Time's Up movement pledged support for the #MuteRKelly campaign.

A statement given to Variety read: "We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man."

It added: "R Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time's Up movement."

Time's Up wants "appropriate investigations... into the allegations of R Kelly's abuse made by women of colour." Kelly denies all allegations.

The movement, led by the Women in Color (WOC) division of Time's Up, builds on the #MuteRKelly Care2 online petition, launched last July by Atlanta-based music executive Orinike Odeleye. It currently has around 65,000 supporters, with a goal of reaching 70,000.

The campaign calls for anyone currently profiting from Kelly and his music to cut all ties with him.

'Malicious conspiracy'

The WOC group, which includes director Ava Duvernay and singer Janelle Monae, cites the guilty verdict handed to Bill Cosby in his sexual assault retrial as a catalyst.

The WOC statement demands specific action against RCA, Kelly's label, as well as four other entities with current business ties to Kelly: Spotify, Apple Music, Ticketmaster and Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

But the management statement from Kelly's team criticised the move: "Time's Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R Kelly's support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Legend has backed the campaign against R Kelly

"Soon it will become clear Mr Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time."

It added: "We understand criticising a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those [Time's Up] goals - and in this case, it is unjust and off-target."

The BBC has contacted Time's Up regarding the comments from Kelly's camp and is awaiting a response.

Momentum shift

Kelly, who has sold over 60 million records worldwide, has been accused of sexual misconduct on several occasions over the past 25 years.

In 2008, he was acquitted of 14 charges of making child pornography after a videotape emerged allegedly showing him having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Last year, the R&B singer was accused of holding several young women in an "abusive cult".

In response, the singer's lawyer told the BBC that Kelly would work "diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name".

The renewed focus on Kelly follows a recent BBC Three documentary, R Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes, which sees filmmaker Ben Zand try to break down the alleged "wall of silence" around historic sexual abuse allegations involving Kelly.

He interviews R Kelly's former girlfriend, Kitti Jones, who tells him about the alleged abuse she suffered while dating the singer from 2011 to 2013.

R Kelly was contacted about the issues raised in the programme but his representatives told the BBC he would make no comment.

Singer John Legend is among those who have lent his support to the Time's Up/WOC initiative on social media.

His public stance continues an apparent shift within the music industry against the 51-year-old in recent months.


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