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The singer R.Kelly was the leader of a sex cult. He's spending time in prison for sex trafficking and other charges, but how did he recruit his victims?

Manipulated minors: How did R. Kelly recruit victims for his sex cult?

Being a recognized figure comes with the surveillance of the public eye. Each small action will be magnified under a microscope and everyone will know what you’re doing. However, there were cases in the past where crimes didn’t seem to really matter and celebrities kept going smoothly with their lives & careers. 

For a long time, this was the case of the singer R. Kelly who showed pedophile behaviors, was charged with sexual abuse crimes, and even married a minor. His 2017 shows ended up with only a few cancelations. Nevertheless, it’s 2022, and movements like #MeToo have empowered women to speak up and collectively point at unforgivable crimes. 

No one can hide for long without being caught, even with all the flaws justice organizations generally have, the truth will eventually speak. May cases like Epstein’s or Prince Andrew’s, where neither money nor royalty escaped the weight of the law, serve to make visible that fame is not enough to get away. Seems like the microscope is now pointing to R.Kelly, and not for his singing.  

A fetish for minors or just heartless man? (Both apparently)

Since 1994, the singer has shown a twisted tendency for kids. At the time, he married the pop star Aaliyah, who was only fifteen years old while R. Kelly was twenty-seven. Twelve years may not be the longest age gap, but when it comes to pedophiles the deal isn’t the difference in age, but manipulation. Kids and even teenagers, aren’t in a position to decide and can be physically and emotionally controlled with ease. 

Fortunately, the marriage was annulled. However, Kelly has built a record of sexual abuse for the last thirty years and has been accused of operating through a cult. In 2017, BuzzFeed published a disturbing article reporting that the R&B singer had at least six women living under his complete control. Since many of them were eighteen, the police couldn’t do anything. 

In 2008, R. Kelly was accused of urinating on a thirteen-year-old girl on a videotape, also multiple sex tapes of him went to light since 2000. In 2018, rapper Vince Staples publicly referred to Kelly as a “child molester” at Coachella, in the same year, Kelly’s ex-wife Drea Kelly accused him of domestic violence.

General means and ways of sex cults 

One thing is having inappropriate sexual behaviors (which is completely punishable), and a different situation is running a sex cult. But what are the means and ways of cults? They usually start with the presence of a figure to praise or admire, like how the Manson Family had Charles Manson and NXIVM had Keith Raniere. The next point is brainwashing, there’s usually an idea or value the implicated follow.  

Michel Foucault’s (also a pedophile) theory of power, says that there are two ways to manipulate someone: one is through punishment and the second one through desire. Cults usually operate using both, at the beginning by handling a promise of giving something to the recruited, and lastly, by making them know there’s no way out. 

Young women went to R. Kelly looking for help for their music careers, the singer recruited them by offering professional training, which ended up in sex. After, he took them to live in a property in Chicago. Women were forced to call him “Daddy”, and Kelly controlled their weight & appearance. He also confiscated their cellphones and gave them new ones, victims had to ask for permission to contact anyone. 

Kelly also forced them to wear jogging suits so no man can see their bodies but him. If other men were in the room, women had to face the wall. Most of the time sexual intercourse was filmed and shared with other men. Several women testified physical abuse from him as a punishment if they broke the rules. 

What’s next for R.Kelly?

He believed he could fly from this, but it looks like he didn’t. R. Kelly was sentenced to 10 years of life in prison in 2019 after more than a dozen women testified being assaulted by him. He’s currently paying for racketeering, sexual exploitation of children, and kidnapping. 

Ten years looks like a very short time sentence for all these charges, however, it seems that 2022 will be a year that’ll determine Kelly’s future. There’s still a trial missing on child pornography which is scheduled for August 2022. 

Surviving R. Kelly is a 2019 Netflix documentary about the case. However, it’s sad and not in a cancelation way, that since the show started Kelly has only increased his numbers in Spotify. The next thing for Kelly will be certainly determined by a trial, nevertheless, his fans & defenders should start thinking about what’s next for them too.

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