Asante McGee, one of numerous women who have accused disgraced singer R. Kelly of sexual misconduct, claimed in a recent op-ed that there were many ‘red flags’ in her relationship with Kelly — including that he often wanted her to talk like a ‘little girl.’
McGee detailed her relationship with Kelly, including how she met him and the things she witnessed during her time with him, in an essay published Tuesday for THINK, NBC News’ opinion section. McGee is one of many women whose sexual misconduct claims regarding Kelly were featured in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary, a six-episode series that chronicled the numerous allegations made against Kelly over the last 20-plus years. In Tuesday's post, McGee went into even more detail about her former relationship with Kelly.
McGee said that Kelly did not seem to show any signs of being controlling during the beginning of their relationship, a two-year period during which she “[flew] in and out of various places” to spend time with him. It wasn’t until she moved into his house in Atlanta, Georgia that things took a turn for the worse, so much so that she “ran away” after three weeks, she wrote. She said that she was “isolated” in the house, and was not allowed to use her phone around Kelly or in the presence of others, because “he’d trained us to tattle on one another, to help him maintain control.”
“For the years before that, I never saw anything that was a sign to me that he was abusive or controlling; I didn’t notice the red flags. I thought, 'He is R. Kelly. He wants to protect me,' so when he told me not to speak to people about coming to see him, because they might try to attack me, I believed him,” she said of their early relationship.
She went on to describe the incidents that she was able to recognize in hindsight as red flags. On one occasion, he had her fly out to Chicago to see him, but then had her sit in a van for eight hours, she recalled.
“I should have just left him then, but I was just so in love with him,” she said of the incident, which allegedly happened in 2016. “ And once he came and brought me to studio, he charmed me to the point that I forgot about what he had just put me through.”
She would later realize that there was another red flag in her relationship with Kelly: how often he wanted her to sound like a “little girl,” she said.
“I also never had any idea that he really liked minors; I was not a teenager, I was nowhere near a teenager. The only small red flag was that, when we were together, he always wanted me to talk like a little girl,” she said. “He would tell me what to say, I would repeat it, and he would keep telling me ‘No. Do it different, do it a little softer,’ until I got to the voice that he wanted. I thought it was odd, but then I thought that maybe it was just a role play for him.”
Kelly, who was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008, is currently facing 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse, with prosecutors alleging that he victimized multiple girls and women between the ages of 14 and 23. Worsening the case for Kelly, famed attorney Michael Avenatti has reportedly already handed in two tapes that he claims show Kelly sexually assaulting an underage girl; celeb attorney Gloria Allred recently came forward to allege the existence of a third tape of a similar nature as the first two.
Kelly, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges, “denies that he is on any tape with underaged girls,” his lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said.
McGee recalled in her essay an occasion when she was living in Kelly’s house and saw a young woman who seemed close with Kelly, writing, “I remember seeing her sitting on his lap, and I thought then that she looked mighty young. But a lot of us looked younger than we really are, so I didn't question it then. Once I moved in, I learned that she was only 17 years old; that's when I started to get concerned.”
She said, of her time in Kelly’s house, that she was often being watched, and felt that Kelly would test her and the other girls and women to ensure that they were being loyal to him and his rules.
“He wanted us to feel that, that he had somebody watching your every move,” she said. “There’s a security at the end of the gate at the house, which he said was trained to stop us. He’d threatened your family, or said they’re just jealous and trying to hold you back. He instilled fear into us, and made us believe whatever he’d told us. So when I say to people that we were ‘held captive,’ it’s more of a mental thing. He manipulated us into thinking we couldn't leave, or that we didn’t want to.”
After remaining largely silent amid the growing backlash following the premiere of Lifetime’s documentary, Kelly sat for his first post-arrest interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” earlier this month, during which he grew emotional, yelled at the camera, and tearfully claimed that he was “fighting for [his] f--king life.”
He also seemed to address rumors that he’d been holding women captive, remarking, “How stupid would it be for R. Kelly, with all I’ve been through in my way, way past to hold somebody, let alone four, five, six, 50 you said [against their will]?”
McGee said Tuesday that her goal in sharing her story was for the young girls she’d seen with Kelly to be able to “go back home and live teenage lives.” She also wanted to describe the “grooming” Kelly did so that “it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
“People keep saying, ‘Oh I would never allow a man to do this to me. I would never this, I would never that.’ You never know what you would allow until you’re put in that situation,” she said. “I promised myself when I left my ex-husband that I would never allow another man to abuse me or mistreat me, and I ended up with R. Kelly, in the very situation I’d promised myself to avoid. I genuinely did not think that he would hurt me on purpose; I know now that he used my pain to his advantage."
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