r-kelly-performing-at-2013-BET-experience-in-2013
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET

‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ Part 5: The Parents of R. Kelly’s Alleged Victims Speak Out

The Lifetime documentary unpacks how Kelly’s system of hiding his alleged behaviors unraveled.

Readers note: This recap may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault.

R. Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008. Post-trial, he remained a cult-like figure in Black music. His catalog was the soundtrack to family reunions, graduations, and weddings. He also performed at major events, such as Whitney Houston’s funeral in 2012. It seemed the culture absolved him for good.

“If an individual is providing something to the society, such as music, cinema, politics, we are more likely to compartmentalize the negative behavior and minimize it as a way of accepting what they are contributing,” psychologist Dr. Jody Adewale, explained.

But accusations of sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking mounted against the singer. Within the past two years especially, Kelly’s efforts to keep his behaviors secret unraveled as survivors and their families spoke up, as outlined in part five of Surviving R. Kelly documentary.

For instance, Jerhonda Pace, who was involved with Kelly when she was 16 left him after he choked her until she blacked out. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Pace. After she left, she turned over evidence about the abuse to the Illinois Bureau of Investigation.

Her friend Dominique Gardner, who met Kelly in summer 2009, at the age of 17, continued to see him unbeknownst to her mother. The singer isolated Gardner and allegedly “molded” her into a “boy toy,” according to an anonymous former employee of Kelly. “He had her shave all her hair off and she carries herself like a boy,” they said. “He’s even had her dressed in boy clothes and a beard and a mustache to look like a boy.”

In 2017, the parents of another alleged victim, Joycelyn Savage, spoke out in a Buzzfeed report on Kelly's alleged sex cult.

Joycelyn Savage, an aspiring singer, met Kelly when she was 19 when he came to the Savages' Atlanta boutique in spring 2015. Timothy Savage said they had heard about Kelly's trial but because he was found not guilty, there was no alarm. When Kelly began mentoring Joycelyn during her freshman year of college in fall 2016, the disconnect began. Timothy and Joycelyn Savage haven’t seen their daughter in two years. They say she is “severely brainwashed.”

After the Savages came forward, Kelly began to strategize a way to push back. “The first thing was to put Joycelyn in front of the camera on TMZ,” his former employee said. “Which is something he ordinarily would have not done, but because they said that Joycelyn was being held against her will he had to clean it up.”

In the July 2017 video interview, Joycelyn Savage denied her parents claims. Kelly’s former employee said Kelly scripted her response.

In a later May 2018 TMZ report, Joycelyn Savage and Dominique Gardner were spotted together in Beverly Hills, California. Kramer, who was also in Los Angeles filming the documentary, took this as an opportunity to track down her daughter.

Kramer went to the hotel she thought Gardner would be staying. The hotel manager agreed to take Kramer to her daughter’s room. When her daughter opened the door, they spoke briefly and Gardner told her mother to come back in the evening.

When Kramer returned, she was ordered to leave the premises because Gardner called 911 and claimed Kramer was not her mother. Kramer didn’t believe this and was able to reach her daughter on the phone. By the end of the ordeal, Gardner grabbed a bag and left with her mother.

“We ran out of there like the master was coming for us,” said Kramer.

Viewers also heard an account from Kitti Jones, a former Dallas radio station DJ. She met Kelly when she was 33 at a party in 2011. Soon she quit her job and moved to Chicago to be with him. One day, Jones' friend asked her if she knew about Kelly’s alleged sex tape. “When I saw the images, the images were of the same girl that he introduced me to a couple weeks before,” said Jones.

When she confronted Kelly about the tape, he beat her. More abuse ensued. She had to ask permission to use the restroom and to eat. When Kitti finally left Kelly, she felt ashamed of her experiences.

Another alleged victim, Azriel Clary met Kelly at a concert she attended with her parents in Orlando, when she was 17. Kelly had picked her out of the crowd to come on stage. Her parents didn’t feel threatened, although they knew of Kelly’s reputation. “Me being a protective father I’m okay with it because I don't think none of this can happen to me,” said Angelo Clary. After the show, Azriel sang for Kelly backstage and he gave her his number.

Days later, Azriel Clary’s parents found out she was at a hotel in Kissimmee, Florida meeting with Kelly by herself. Her parents traveled to the hotel to get their daughter. The Clarys did attempt to work with Kelly on their daughter’s music career. But instead, he isolated Azriel, too.

The final installment of Surviving R. Kelly features more survivor accounts and details how the narrative around R. Kelly is finally shifting with the help of activism and social media.

From the Web

More on Vibe

50 Cent, Joy Bryant, Nicholas Pinnock Talk New Season Of ABC's 'For Life'

Months after its debut, ABC's For Life has returned for a new season. Based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a former-inmate-turned-lawyer, the drama series' protagonist, Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock), fights for his freedom and safety in and out of the courtroom while fighting for that of his fellow inmates. As Wallace inches closer to finding substantial evidence to exonerate himself, he reconnects with his ex-wife Marie (Joy Bryant) and pregnant teenage daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris).

"When I met with Issac, I almost couldn't believe what he was saying to me. He went to jail, became a prison rep, came back created a case law through other people's cases, and worked his way out of jail?" said Curtis "50" Cent" Jackson in a recent interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "You know more people that saw things not going well [in prison] and said I'll take a bad situation before I take the worst situation and cop-out because they know the system will just wash them up and that will be the end of it."

The first season of For Life essentially covers the first 9 years of Wright's experience while in jail. This season, topics like Black Lives Matter and social justice are addressed and Wallace finally reenters society. "There are 5 different Aarons I'm playing," shared British actor Nicholas Pinnock. "One is Aaron who is the prison rep. One is Aaron who is the father and husband to Marie and Jas(mine). One is Aaron with the prison warden and his relationship with her. Another one is Aaron just as an ordinary prisoner. And then you have Aaron the lawyer...and then in Season 2, we have a sixth layer. There's Aaron on the outside."

An unspoken source of strength lies in Marie who has supported and served as a "ride or die" figure in the first season. When asked about addressing those who don't agree with her prior decision to move on to Wallace's friend, Bryant pointed out her character's humanness. "Marie had to make some hard choices when Aaron was sent away. They may not be things that people agree with. 'Oh, she's with his best friend' or whatever, but she was left holding the bag, literally," she pointed out. "Things aren't always so black and white. People have to make decisions based on where they are and what they feel they need to do at the time and everyone can have whatever opinion they want."

Watch VIBE's full interview with Bryant, Pinnock, and Jackson, who also co-executive produces the show. New episodes of For Life premieres Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on ABC.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

Continue Reading
Marcus Ingram/Getty Images

‘Black Panther’ Sequel Will Reportedly Begin Filming In Atlanta Next Year

Filming on the highly anticipated sequel to Black Panther is set to begin next summer. Marvel Studios will start shooting the Ryan Coogler-directed sequel in July 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The series are the priority, “ a source told THR of Marvel’s film strategy going into next year. “Ramping them up takes a lot of focus. The movie machinery is well established.”

The shoot will last at least six months. Princess Shuri, the character played by Letitia Wright, who plays King T’Challa's sister Princess Shuri, could take on an expanded role given the death of Chadwick Boseman.

Narcos: Mexico actor Tenoch Huerta will reportedly join the cast, while Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Windsor Duke are also expected to return for the second installment of the Marvel film.

In September, Black Panther’s executive producer Victoria Alonso denied rumors that Boseman would appear in the film via CGI technology. “There's only one Chadwick, and he's not with us,” Alonso said. “Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to the story and what we do to honor this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, in reality.”

Boseman, 43, passed away from colon cancer in August.

Continue Reading
David Livingston/Getty Images

There’s A Petition For LeVar Burton To Become The New Host Of ‘Jeopardy’

While fans are still mourning the death of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, the Canadian broadcaster’s passing leaves an opening at the game show and the internet has been leaning towards LeVar Burton as a possible replacement. Not that Trebek can ever truly be replaced, but an online petition has been launched in hopes of Burton taking over the job.

The onetime Reading Rainbow host tweeted the petition on Thursday (Nov. 12). “Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much I appreciate all y’alls love and support!”

Even if nothing comes from it, I can’t tell how much how I appreciate all y’alls love and support! 🙏🏾♥️

Petition · Make LeVar Burton the next host of Jeopardy! · https://t.co/60lC1WCD61 https://t.co/QFxedpuWpU

— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) November 12, 2020

So far, the petition has received more than 64,000 signatures and counting.

“Between hosting 21 seasons of the educational Reading Rainbow, playing the brainiac engineer Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: the Next Generation, and filling the roll of Kunta Kinte in the ever important mini-series Roots, LeVar Burton has inspired and shaped the minds of several generations of trivia-loving nerds,” reads the petition which was launched to show Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Jeopardy producers Mike Richards and Harry Freidman, “just how much love the public has for Burton and how much we’d all love to see him as the next host of Jeopardy!”

Trebek began hosting Jeopardy in 1984. He helmed the show for more than 30 years before announcing his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2019. Though the 80-year-old beloved game show host passed away on Nov. 8, he pre-taped enough Jeopardy episodes to air until the end of the year.

Continue Reading

Top Stories