Kelly, 52, was released from jail on Monday afternoon after being indicted by a grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four alleged victims

By Dave Quinn
February 26, 2019 01:28 PM
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John Legend admits the music industry turned a blind eye to R. Kelly‘s alleged behavior for too long.

The 40-year-old EGOT winner was one of the first celebrities to speak out against the accused sexual abuser, appearing alongside a sea of his alleged victims in Lifetime’s explosive six-part docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly. And on Tuesday, Legend once again discussed Kelly during an appearance on the Today show — this time pointing his finger back at Hollywood for allowing Kelly’s alleged crimes to persist.

“A lot of us kind of tolerated or looked the other way on that issue for a long time, and a lot of people were being hurt for decades,” Legend said. “We looked away for too long.”

“The stories have been around for decades,” he added.

John Legend and R. Kelly
| Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Suzanne Cordeiro/REX/Shutterstock

Kelly, 52, was released from jail on Monday afternoon after being indicted by a grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four alleged victims, three of which were under the age of 17 at the time the alleged abuse occurred (between May 1998 and January 2010).

The “Ignition” singer has repeatedly denied all claims against him, and his attorney, Steven Greenberg, pled not guilty to the criminal charges on Kelly’s behalf.

A renewed interest in the allegations against Kelly emerged in July 2017, when BuzzFeed published a bombshell report accusing the star of running a “sex cult” out of his Chicago and Atlanta-area homes. The star allegedly seduced a number of young women with the promise of helping them kickstart a music career, only to “groom” them into being his personal sex objects for whom he allegedly controlled every aspect of their lives.

“I think it’s been a long time coming,” Legend told Today of the criminal charges. “I’m so glad that the documentary was made. I’m so glad that the victims got to have their voices heard, and I think them having their voices heard, this story being retold — because it’s been told before — but I think being retold through that medium really brought the issue to a lot of people’s attention, and I think it inspired the law enforcement to move on some things that they weren’t moving on before.”

Asked what he thinks the potential outcome of the trial would be, Legend told Today co-anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Carson Daly that he wants to “let justice play out.”

“Obviously it’s difficult to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt in court,” Legend said. “But I think his victims deserve justice.”

Steve Greenberg and R. Kelly
| Credit: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, Legend hasn’t been the only star to condemn Kelly.

Musicians from Ne-Yo to Meek Mill to Christina Aguilera to JoJo have all spoken out against him, many jumping on the social media campaign to #MuteRKelly.

Lady Gaga, who was sexually assaulted at age 19, even assured that her 2013 duet with R. Kelly — “Do What U Want (With My Body)” —was removed from iTunes and all streaming services.

“I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” she wrote in a post on Instagram. “What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible,.

“As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life,” she explained of her collaboration with Kelly. “I can’t go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault.”

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.