Parents Accusing R. Kelly of Luring Daughter Away Say She Attempted Suicide Before Meeting Him
Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docu-series wrapped last week, but people involved continue to speak out.
Surviving R. Kelly — which aired on Lifetime from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Saturday, Jan. 5 — featured 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.
While Florida-native Azriel Clary, 21, did not take part in the series, as she’s still reportedly with 52-year-old Kelly, her parents Alice and Angelo did, claiming they haven’t had contact with their daughter for nearly three years. On Friday they revealed new details of their family’s story, speaking with community activist Jay Morrison and his wife Ernestine Johnson Morrison on Facebook and Instagram Live.
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 PEOPLE’s interviews with alleged victims.
Alice and Angelo shared on Friday that days before meeting Kelly for the first time in 2015, their daughter, then 17, attempted to commit suicide following a breakup with her high school boyfriend.
“I met the kid. Good kid,” Angelo told the Morrisons of Azriel’s ex-boyfriend. “I’m okay with that. Azriel had a strict schedule: schoolwork, her rehearsal, then boom, it’s your [the boyfriend’s] time. I guess he didn’t like that. Whatever reason, their relationship went south. He cheated on her. We didn’t know about it. [He] blamed her.”
Shortly after the breakup, Angelo said he got a call from his son claiming, “I think Azriel trying to do something to herself” inside the house. Angelo then rushed to their Florida home and found Azriel “submerged in the bathroom,” he said. “She took pills. A father had to watch his 17-year-old almost take her life.”
The parents say they rushed Azriel to the hospital. The day after Azriel’s release, Alice had purchased tickets for her husband and her older daughter A’Iceis, who also appeared in the docu-series, to attend a nearby music festival, where Kelly would be performing. Daughter A’Iceis couldn’t make it because of work, and Angelo and Alice didn’t feel comfortable leaving Azriel home alone one day after she’d gotten back from the hospital.
Angelo claimed Azriel’s doctor approved her parents’ plans to take her to the concert where she first met Kelly. “We tell the doctor [and] he’s saying she needs to be around music,” he said.
Alice added that she has “documentation that will verify” the doctor encouraging Azriel, an aspiring musician, to fill her life with her passion amidst her recovery.
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At the concert, Azriel got pulled up on stage during Kelly’s performance and afterward talked to him backstage, where she sang for the Grammy winner and they exchanged phone numbers. Then, they claim that that coming Monday — four days after her release from the hospital — Azriel returned to school, but left early to meet with Kelly.
In the week that followed, Alice and Angelo say they tried to keep their youngest daughter away from Kelly, who they say promised to help her launch her singing career. (Angelo claims he knew about the years of allegations made against Kelly, but Alice was not as aware.)
“We argued. We fought,” Alice said of conversations with Azriel. “We missed work, three days of work…we felt like we couldn’t leave her in the house. She threatened us to 1) either [try to] kill herself again or she was going to run away.”
Alice continued, “I was put in between a rock and a hard spot on making a decision. Do I want to trust that my daughter may really act out on the accusations she just made? Or do I say, okay, let me be clearheaded about this and make a decision that, okay, I’m going to let her go [work with him], but there needs to be different avenues, parameters in place.”
Azriel’s parents decided to let her go back and forth between Florida and Kelly’s studio in Chicago to record with the star between April and August as she finished up her junior year of high school. As they claim in the documentary, Azriel’s older sister A’Iceis came along to chaperone.
Then heading into Azriel’s senior year, Angelo and Alice allege that Kelly told their daughter she had to come with him full time in order to be his mentee. “I said she can’t go,” Angelo recalled. “She was in 12th grade. So now we find out when school’s starting, he already put in her head what to do. She went to the school and already had filled out the virtual, online school [form] so she could travel.”
Azriel was turning 18 in a few months, and once she did, her parents felt that marked a turning point in their connection. “She’s doing her school work, she’s calling us up, everything is fine” Angelo said. “She turns 18, still everything is going good but we start losing a little bit of contact.”
Azriel graduated high school in 2016, and her parents claim she only showed up to receive her diploma at their insistence. “We were going to go back to Chicago, and we were going to meet them at that next show if she didn’t come to the graduation,” Angelo said.
They claimed that Azriel threatened once again to kill herself if her parents did ever come to Chicago and attempt to bring her home.
While Angelo believed he was initially being supportive of his youngest daughter’s career aspirations, he says Azriel has not released any music to date. “Not one song,” he said.
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 also claim R. Kelly is holding their daughter, Joycelyn Savage, against her will. They too were interviewed in the docu-series, along with numerous other women.
“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.