Aaliyah's Ex Damon Dash Says She Wouldn't Talk About R. Kelly: 'It Was So Much Hurt for Her'
The impact of late singer Aaliyah's time with R. Kelly when she was a teenager was so powerful that it affected her romantic relationships afterward
In an interview with Hip Hop Motivation that aired on Jan. 10, her ex-boyfriend Damon Dash, who co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records, shared that he couldn’t watch Lifetime’s recent explosive documentary because of his connection to it.
Surviving R. Kelly — which aired on Lifetime from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Saturday, Jan. 5 — features wide-ranging interviews with Kelly’s family members, former friends and colleagues, but most notably, women who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls.
Representatives for Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, previously responded “no comment” to PEOPLE’s request for a response to the allegations made in the docu-series and interviews with alleged victims in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
“I watched some of it yesterday, as much as I could tolerate,” the music mogul, 47, said. “And I’m not gonna lie, as a human I was tight. I was tight about a couple of things. Number one, there was a girl that was trying to talk about it and couldn’t. And I remember Aaliyah trying to talk about it and she couldn’t. She just would leave it at, ‘That dude was a bad man.’ ”
Dash continued: “And I didn’t really wanna know what he did to the extent that I might feel the need… to deal with it. Just ‘cause that’s what a man does. But it just was so much hurt for her to revisit it. It was like, ‘I wouldn’t even wanna revisit it without a professional.’ Whatever got done was terrible.”
“You know, I watched John Legend be fearless about his opinion of it, regardless of, politically, how it may seem but I’ve been tight about this s—t for years,” he said. “If you remember [JAY-Z and Kelly’s 2002 album] The Best of Both Worlds, you don’t see my name on that … I never wanted no parts of that.”
Dash also said he tried to tell JAY-Z not to work with the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer in the future.
“I was like ‘Bro, you know homie violated and he violated my girl. He violated a friend of yours.’ … So, you know, when he moved forward I was like… ‘Yo, I don’t want no parts of that.’ ”
To conclude the interview, Dash asked the question that’s been on many people’s minds since Surviving R. Kelly first aired.
“At the end of the day, my question is why does it take people so long?” he mused. “Why is it only because there’s a documentary and now it’s popular and now people be stepping up? This s—t been going on for years and people been looking the other way.”
In 1994 it was widely reported that R. Kelly and Aaliyah had secretly gotten married and news outlets made public a marriage certificate that listed Aaliyah’s age as 18, though she would have been 15 at the time.
R. Kelly and Aaliyah never addressed the reports about the nature of their relationship, but in the documentary, his former personal assistant Demetrius Smith claims he was present at the wedding and admits to obtaining false documents for underaged Aaliyah.
Also in Surviving R. Kelly, a friend of Aaliyah’s, Jovante Cunningham, claimed she saw Aaliyah, then 15, and R. Kelly, then 27, engaging in a sexual relationship on his tour bus after the door to his room flew open.
“[I saw] things that an adult should not be doing with a child,” she said, adding, “I can’t stress to you how people are still suffering behind things that went on 20 years ago.”
On Wednesday, it was revealed that the 52-year-old hit-making singer and producer, who is reportedly under investigation in the state of Georgia for sexual and physical abuse, is in jeopardy of losing his 8,000-square-foot music studio in an industrial property on the West Side of Chicago if he does not pay the thousands of dollars in rent that he owes within the next two weeks, according to the Blast.
Alleging that he missed two balloon payments and failed to pay his monthly rent, the owner of the building, Midwest Commercial Funding, filed an eviction lawsuit against him in July for breaking his contract, which guaranteed a 10-year lease at a monthly rate of $22,927.41. Kelly reportedly owes the company over $80,000 in arrears, the site reports.
The property, which is currently listed for sale at $3.9 million, was referred to on the docu-series as a so-called “sex dungeon” and living quarters for young girls in what they referred to as a sex cult.
TMZ reports that cops visited the vacant recording studio on Tuesday to survey the vicinity after it gained publicity on the show.
The New York Times reports that investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in Georgia contacted Gerald A. Griggs, the lawyer for Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, on Monday. Timothy and Jonjelyn claim the singer is holding their daughter, Joycelyn Savage, against her will. The couple was interviewed in the docu-series, along with numerous other women.
RELATED VIDEO: R. Kelly’s Brothers Break Their Silence in New Documentary Alleging His Abuse Spans Decades
“We hope that it will turn into a fruitful investigation and it will result in the return of Joycelyn Savage to her family or, at the very least, that she start opening continuous conversations and interactions with her family like she had before she met Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Griggs told PEOPLE on Wednesday.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has declined PEOPLE’s request to comment, as did the Atlanta and John’s Creek police departments.
TMZ also reported that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the allegations made in the docu-series, adding that investigators reached out to Asante McGee, who spoke to PEOPLE about her experience escaping from Kelly’s residence.
However, a representative for McGee has denied that she has been contacted by authorities.
While no charges have currently been brought in Kelly’s other residence of Chicago, Cook County state attorney Kim Foxx held a press conference on Tuesday to encourage any victims to “please come forward.”
“If we are going to take these allegations seriously — it isn’t one of those situations where it’s just forensics, we need actual witnesses and victims to have the courage to tell their stories,” she said. “We cannot do anything related to these allegations without the cooperation of victims and witnesses.”
In 2008, a Cook County jury found Kelly not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography charges.
Foxx added that her office is talking to two families whose loved ones had been in contact with Kelly.
“I was sickened. I was sickened by the allegations, I was sickened as a survivor, I was sickened as a mother, I’m sickened as a prosecutor,” she said of the docu-series. “I’ve worked in this office for a number of years including in 2008, and so the allegations were not new to me, but I think listening to survivors and giving the platform for survivors to tell their stories was heartbreaking.”
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.