Singer R. Kelly was released from Cook County Jail on Saturday after an anonymous “benefactor” paid the amount of money at $160,000 he reportedly owes his ex-wife in child support, according to TMZ. “I promise we’re going to straighten all this out,” the singer said into the camera after walking out. “That’s all I can say right now. I love my fans.”
After Kelly spoke, an unidentified woman yelled “I love you” and asked him to touch her hand — a moment that Chicago Sun-Times reporter Nader Issa captured in a Twitter video.
The tumultuous moment came just hours after the long-anticipated Gayle King Interview with R. Kelly aired on Friday evening. In the interview, King didn’t shy away from asking the rapper the tough questions about the allegations against him. R. Kelly has been accused of sexual abuse, including the abuse of teenage females, and he has denied the accusations.
As Deadline noted, Kelly pointed to the time between when some of the alleged abuses took place and when his accusers have spoken out. “These girls were older, they were 20 years ago, 15 years ago,” Kelly said to King, referring to the women in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. “Why now? Why would they come out now?”
Why women might come forward about sexual misconduct now isn’t exactly a mystery. The #MeToo movement has empowered women to come forward about abuse they suffered years ago, and support for survivors is stronger thanks to all of the people who’ve shared their stories. Apparently, though, King had to explain what #MeToo was to Kelly, Deadline reported.
Survivors “now feel comfortable speaking out, and they now believe they will be believed,” King told the “Ignition” rapper. That could apply to the women who’ve accused Kelly of abuse too. “Some of these girls, I had relationships with. Some of them, I don’t even remember,” Kelly said to King, referring to the women in the Lifetime documentary. “Because it was so long ago. I had a lot of relationships. … There were girls, you know what I’m saying, not underage girls.”
Viewers didn’t seem to buy Kelly’s response, though. “Good luck in prison,” one person tweeted. “Thou doth protest too much, methinks,” another person responded to the CBS This Morning clip.
Meanwhile, journalist Yashar Ali called Kelly a “sociopath” in a tweet on Friday night. Another Twitter user came to a similar conclusion, tweeting that Kelly is a “narcissistic sociopathic abuser.” And plenty of people chose to use the #MuteRKelly hashtag, encouraging others to stop listening to his music.
CNN published an op-ed on Thursday asking if consumers can (and should) “separate the art from the artist.” The article mentions Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey and others who’ve been accused of sexual misconduct. In Kelly’s case, though, the art and the artist’s alleged abuse may be directly correlated.
Ed Genson, who was Kelly’s lawyer in 2008, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Kelly rewrote “Ignition” at his request. “It’s a song related to a guy driving around in a car with his girlfriend,” Genson told the newspaper. “It was originally a high school instructor in a class teaching people how to drive a car. I changed the words.”
Genson’s statements, combined with Kelly’s behavior during the interview, don’t paint a great picture for the rapper. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, Kelly faces “10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse charges involving four women.” If he is convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to 70 years.
Attorney Michael Avenatti also tweeted on Saturday afternoon that there is “significant additional evidence that R. Kelly and his handlers transported underage girls across state lines for the purpose of allowing him to sexually assault them.”