Readers note: This recap may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault.
According to #MuteRKelly co-founder Oronike Odeleye, the movement launched in 2017 was born out of the Savages’ work to save their daughter Joycelyn from the R&B singer’s control.
“Just seeing their anguish and their pain really inspired me to act,” Odeleye said in the final installment of Surviving R. Kelly Part II.
Thank you to all the survivors and family members who have bravely come forward to tell their stories. And to those who have not been able to speak their truth, we support you too. Sending love and healing thoughts to every sexual abuse survivor. #MuteRKelly #SurvivingRKelly
— MuteRKelly-Official (@OffMuteRKelly) January 5, 2020
Last night’s episode covered the Savages’ and Clarys’ additional attempts to make contact with their daughters since the first documentary aired. Viewers also heard heartbreaking stories from the women’s siblings.
Shortly after Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary’s Gayle King interview in March 2019, R. Kelly’s public relations team contacted the Savages and set up a call between Joycelyn and her family. When she got on the line, Joycelyn was immediately defensive. “I have told you guys a million times that I’m okay where I am and that I’m happy,” she said.
Jonjelyn Savage had her youngest daughter Jori speak to Joy as a tactic to break through to her because survivor Jerhonda Pace told them that Kelly hadn’t trained them to speak against children. Joycelyn broke away from her script and told her sister she loved her. But the call ended abruptly without her saying much else. Her mother likened the interaction to a prison call.
The follow-up documentary also dived deeper into the specific tactics Kelly used to lure Joycelyn Savage. After meeting her at a show, Kelly promised her he was going to help sign Savage to Sony Records. Songwriter Antonio Booze who was working with Joycelyn at the time was with her when she first contacted Kelly on the phone. Kelly was promising to fly her out. Joycelyn wanted to bring a friend, but none were available. She then mentioned bringing Booze with her.
“She told me that he was saying something like…‘I feel uncomfortable because he’s a songwriter and I feel uncomfortable with him being in the room considering that we both do the same thing,’” he said.
Joycelyn went alone to Oklahoma and when she came back she shared with Booze that R. Kelly had coerced her into having sex with him.
He said that she continued to see Kelly without her parents knowing. After her father found out that she had sex with Kelly, he told her that she needed to focus on school and to stop doing music. Joycelyn eventually moved out of her dorm and stopped contacting her family.
On July 11, 2019, the Savages went to Trump Tower in Chicago to get a glimpse of their daughter, Joycelyn. Her younger sister Jailyn called the police to do a wellness check. But Joy, as her family calls her, wasn’t at the Trump Tower.
Like the Savages, Azriel Clary’s family have made their own attempts to reach Azriel Clary. Her bother Armani Clary and his mother Alice Clary went to the R. Kelly concert in Tampa, Florida, in November 2018. While there, they spotted Azriel on stage. Armani said his mother made her way to the stage as other women in the crowd got invited up. She attempted to grab Azriel but their plan was blocked by R. Kelly’s security guards who grabbed and put her mother in a headlock.
“Security put us right in the hands of the police officers who then put handcuffs on all of us,” Armani said.
Angelo Clary and Alice Clary’s 25-year marriage has also crumbled and Armani doesn’t believe the family can truly come together until Azriel is safe again.
The families hope Kelly goes away so that these reunions will happen soon. On July 11, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted R. Kelly on 13 counts including child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. His trial dates are set for April in Chicago, and May in Chicago. As the documentary comes to a close, cultural critics said the breadth and depth of this case should be a cautionary tale about what happens when we choose to protect male celebrities over women’s safety.
Kimberly M. Foxx, Cook County State Attorney, said everyone has to do their part to remove shame from reporting sexual assault. Sexual abuse and sexual assault are still one of the most underreported crimes for that reason, she said.
“The biggest evidence is not a forensic kit,” said Foxx. “It’s your memory. It’s your willingness to put yourself out there and talk about the most traumatic thing that’s happened to you.”
Foxx continued to say that the process for a survivor reporting an incident starts before you get to the prosecutor or enter the courtroom and it begins when you need to tell a parent, police officer, nurse, doctor or a social worker.
“So I think our system has not been operating in a compassionate way that welcomes those who have these experiences to come without the fear of being retraumatized,” she concluded.