R&B singer R. Kelly is being accused by a woman of giving her a sexually transmitted disease during an eight-month relationship that began when she was 19. The woman filed a complaint with the Dallas Police Department last week and is preparing a federal civil complaint against the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, according to her Philadelphia-based attorney, Lee Merritt.
The woman is not being named because The Washington Post does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault.
A Kelly representative said the singer “categorically denies all claims and allegations” related to this new complaint.
Kelly, 51, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, has sold more than 50 million albums but has been dogged for decades by accusations of abusing women and having sexual relationships with teenagers too young to give their consent. That includes the high-profile child pornography trial in 2008 for which he was acquitted when the alleged victim, whose aunt testified she was just 14, declined to testify, as did her parents. Kelly has also settled multiple lawsuits with women who said he sexually and physically abused them. And last summer, a report by Jim DeRogatis in BuzzFeed included interviews with former girlfriends, a former assistant and others describing Kelly as a control freak who lives and travels with an entourage of sex partners who are part of an abusive “cult.” Kelly did not comment to BuzzFeed but his attorney denied the charges in the article.
In this new allegation, which Merritt released to The Post through a statement, the woman states that she met Kelly last June and that the relationship ended in February. The woman accused Kelly of infecting her in Dallas in December. The singer was in town that month for a concert at the Music Hall at Fair Park. During the relationship, “our client was the victim of several forms of criminal misconduct by Kelly, including, but not limited to, unlawful restraint, furnishing alcohol and illegal drugs to a minor, and aggravated assault (via the referenced intentional STD infection),” according to the statement from Merritt. “These offenses occurred while our client was being groomed to join Kelly’s sex cult. Kelly gradually introduced the cult to our client over the course of their relationship, culminating with an explanation that she would have to sign a contract and offer collateral information about herself and her family for Kelly’s protection.”
The BuzzFeed report played a part in this new lawsuit. After she left Kelly, the accuser reached out to the parents of Joycelyn Savage, a 22-year-old who they said quit college to move in with Kelly in 2016. Joycelyn’s parents, Timothy and JonJelyn, were part of the BuzzFeed report. In a more recent interview with The Post, the Savages said they have declined to accept money in return for their silence. They said their daughter was forced to say she was happy and did not want to leave Kelly. The Savages said they have not seen their daughter since December 2016.
The accuser in this new case sent the Savages a direct message on Instagram earlier this year to tell them she had spent time with Joycelyn. Timothy Savage said on Sunday that he almost immediately asked whether she had a sexual relationship with Kelly and if she had been tested for an STD. He called the woman “brave and courageous” for filing her report with the police.
“Other girls have said it to us but they weren’t willing to speak up,” Savage said. “We need a witness to speak up. I hope this opens up some answers. We felt from the beginning that the reason he’s holding the girls is he has some kind of STD that he couldn’t cure.”
The Savages referred the woman to their attorney, Gerald A. Griggs, who, in turn, connected her with Merritt. The release states that Merritt will hold a news conference Wednesday at Dallas Police headquarters.