R. Kelly Faces Lawsuit from Woman Who Claims Singer Intentionally Infected Her with Herpes
R. Kelly faces yet another accusation of sexual abuse, this time from a woman who claims that the singer “willfully, deliberately and maliciously" infected her with herpes
Faith A. Rodgers, who says she first began a romantic relationship with the R&B star last year at the age of 19, filed a lawsuit against Kelly, 51, in a Manhattan court on Monday. According to the legal documents obtained by the New York Times, the suit seeks unspecified damages for alleged sexual battery, false imprisonment and failure to disclose a sexually transmitted disease.
When contacted by PEOPLE, Kelly’s management had no comment.
According to Rodgers’ filing, she and Kelly first became involved in March 2017 following a performance in San Antonio, not far from the Texas native’s residence.
This led to several months of back and forth telephone contact, culminating that May when Kelly flew her to attend his concert in New York City. It was during this trip that she claims to have received a 6 a.m. phone call from Kelly, summoning her to his hotel room. She tells the BBC in an interview that she duly complied, only to find him acting “really aggressive” towards her, ordering her to undress and making unwanted sexual advances.
“I told him that I wasn’t ready for sex, that I don’t engage in sex the first time I meet somebody — that’s not who I am, that’s not what I’m comfortable with,” Rodgers said to the outlet.
After he initially backed away, she claims in the interview that he started touching her in a suggestive manner, and once again began making sexual overtures. This time, she wordlessly submitted. “I didn’t really say anything. I kinda just froze up,” she told CBS News. “I definitely was uncomfortable. But he has this type of, like, intimidation right off the bat. You know? So I was just waiting for it to be over.”
Throughout the encounter, Rodgers claims to the BBC that Kelly said “nasty [and] degrading things” to her, referring to himself as “Daddy” and she “his little doll.” In her suit, she described the alleged contact as “non-permissive, painful and abusive sex.”
According to Rodgers, the frightening incident played out numerous times over the course of their year-long affair. In a copy of the suit obtained by Variety, she claims Kelly regularly abused her “mentally, sexually and verbally,” and used his iPad to film her performing “deviant and compromising” sex acts against her will. (“He was demanding that I do stuff on camera that I wasn’t comfortable doing whatsoever,” she told the BBC.)
“Defendant, R. Kelly, locked Plaintiff in secluded areas including rooms, studios and motor vehicles, for extended periods of time in order to punish Plaintiff for failing to please Defendant sexually and/or for perceived offenses and violations of his prescribed code of conduct,” the suit states.
She goes on in the complaint to allege that Kelly never divulged the fact that he had herpes, and she found out only after discovering she had contracted the disease herself.
“I was devastated,” she said in her BBC interview. “I was embarrassed; it’s not something that’s going to go away. The hardest part was coming clean to my family about everything…I blame myself a lot.”
Accusations of sexual misconduct have followed Kelly for years, and a BBC Three documentary, released in late March, explored Kelly’s alleged behavior with an interview from Kelly’s ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones claiming that she was “physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually” abused.
In a previous statement to PEOPLE, a former rep for Kelly denied allegations Jones made in a Rolling Stone article from October 2017. Kelly also dismissed a BuzzFeed story titled “R. Kelly Is Holding Women Against Their Will in a ‘Cult,’ Parents Told Police,” calling the claims “a bunch of crap” on social media in July.
His then-attorney Linda Mensch also denied the allegations in a statement to PEOPLE, saying, “Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
In early April, several key members of Kelly’s organization, including Mensch, publicist Trevian Kutti, and executive assistant Diana Copeland, all announced that they have severed ties with the singer.
- Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
Earlier this month, Kelly was targeted by the Time’s Up movement, when their Women of Color subcommittee released a statement pledging solidarity with #MuteRKelly, a campaign in support of the numerous women who claim to have faced abuse by his hand.
Kelly’s management responded to the movement in a statement issued to PEOPLE. The strongly worded message rejects the criminal accusations leveled at the singer, and characterizes the campaign as the “lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.” It goes on to state that Kelly is “the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time.”
The #MuteRKelly movement won a major victory on May 10 when Spotify took a public stand against the singer.
As part of their new public hate content and hateful conduct policy, the streaming service has eliminated the R&B singer’s songs from all official playlists.
“We are removing R. Kelly’s music from all Spotify owned and operated playlists and algorithmic recommendations such as Discover Weekly,” Spotify told Billboard in a statement.
“His music will still be available on the service, but Spotify will not actively promote it,” Spotify continued, adding that while they “don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behavior…we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values.”
R. Kelly’s management responded to the decision in a statement, telling PEOPLE in part, “R. Kelly never has been accused of hate, and the lyrics he writes express love and desire. Mr. Kelly for 30 years has sung songs about his love and passion for women. He is innocent of the false and hurtful accusations in the ongoing smear campaign against him, waged by enemies seeking a payoff. He never has been convicted of a crime, nor does he have any pending criminal charges against him.”
The statement continues, “Spotify promotes numerous other artists who are convicted felons, others who have been arrested on charges of domestic violence and artists who sing lyrics that are violent and anti-women in nature. Mr. Kelly falls into none of these categories, and it is unfortunate and shortsighted that Spotify fails to recognize this.”
- With reporting by SARAH MICHAUD