A new report from BuzzFeed News alleges that R&B singer R. Kelly has kept at least six women in his Chicago and Georgia properties who allegedly fulfill his desires and are punished if they break any of his “rules.”
“You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom,” Kelly’s former personal assistant, Cheryl Mack, tells BuzzFeed. “[Kelly] is a master at mind control … He is a puppet master.” Mack did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Kelly’s lawyer, Linda Mensch, strongly denied the allegations.
“Mr. Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him,” she said. “Mr. Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations and will work diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name.”
Several parents are fighting to free their daughters from Kelly’s home, in which he allegedly controls many aspects of their lives, including how they dress, when they bathe, what they eat and how they engage in recorded sexual encounters with the 50-year-old, according to BuzzFeed’s report.
“She just kept saying she’s in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her. I don’t know what to do,” a woman who is only being identified as J. told BuzzFeed of her 21-year-old daughter. “I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”
J. and her husband, who is only being identified as Tim, said their daughter first met Kelly (né Robert Kelly) in May 2015 when he promised the family that he’d help the then-19-year-old aspiring singer. The teen and Kelly allegedly began a sexual relationship about a month after meeting, J. claims.
The parents said they last saw their daughter in December 2016 and has since heard from her only twice.
“It was as if she was brainwashed,” J. told the publication of her last meeting with her daughter. “[She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible.”
The woman told TMZ on Tuesday she’s “in a happy place” and “not being brainwashed,” though she declined to reveal her whereabouts.
The women are allegedly being kept at Kelly’s Chicago recording studio and a “guest house” in Georgia.
A spokesman for the Johns Creek Police Department tells PEOPLE that the woman’s parents contacted them last year to perform a welfare check on their daughter. The spokesman says J. claimed she hadn’t talked to her daughter in weeks.
Police confirm they visited Kelly’s Georgia home on Dec. 27.
“The daughter was not there. In fact, no one was there,” the spokesman tells PEOPLE of Kelly’s house. “[J.] said she was being held against her will but there were no signs of that. There was an open door at the home. We went in and secured the home, and that’s it.”
That was the only involvement the police department has had with the situation, the spokesman says. In another police report obtained by PEOPLE, Cook County police state they performed a welfare check at the parents’ request.
Officers made contact with the woman this time, but she said she was “fine and did not want to be bothered with her parents.” The woman noted that she had been in touch with her grandmother.
Kelly allegedly calls the women his “babies” and requires them to call him “Daddy,” according to BuzzFeed. They allegedly have to ask permission to leave their rooms and are only allowed to call Kelly or others with the singer’s permission on their Kelly-issued cell phones, reports the outlet.
Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle, including Mack, spoke to BuzzFeed. And two of the women, Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, claim to have once been a part of the group. Both said they had lived with Kelly and had a sexual relationship with him over the past five years.
“R. Kelly is the sweetest person you will ever want to meet,” McGee said in the story. “But Robert is the devil.”
Jones’ voicemail was full, while McGee did not return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Kelly’s lawyer, Linda Mensch, responded to the allegations again in an additional statement to BuzzFeed.
“We can only wonder why folks would persist in defaming a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the people in his life. He works hard to become the best person and artist he can be,” Mensch said.
“It is interesting that stories and tales debunked many years ago turn up when his goal is to stop the violence; put down the guns; and embrace peace and love. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.”
Kelly has been plagued with allegations of sexual misconduct for years. In 1994, Kelly married the late R&B star Aaliyah, then 15 years old. The marriage was quickly annulled after Aaliyah admitted she had lied about her age. The latest explosive claims come nine years after Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges, having been accused of engaging in sex acts with an underaged girl. In April, Kelly was sued by Kenny Bryant, who claimed the singer had a five-year affair with his wife, Asia Childress. Childress did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
- With reporting by JORDAN RUNTAGH