This Tweet Highlights The Wrong Way To React To The R. Kelly Allegations
After BuzzFeed posted an in-depth report on Monday, detailing a host of new claims about the R&B singer, some Twitter users wasted no time in blaming the parents involved in the R. Kelly allegations. The 50-year-old has fielded scores of accusations in the past, but now BuzzFeed has released claims that R. Kelly has allegedly formed a cult of young women, some people had little sympathy. (Bustle has reached out to Kelly's lawyer, rep, and to RCA Records for comment on the report, but did not receive an immediate response, though the lawyer did release the following 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. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.") But in the wake of these new allegations, some people are reacting with little sympathy for the victims' families.
Update: On Monday, Kelly's lawyer released a statement to Bustle that read, "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."
Earlier: The tweet below summarizes these attitudes, with the Twitter user questioning how parents who had let their daughters spend time with Kelly in light of previous allegations against him could possibly be surprised by the results — something echoed by many other users on the social media platform. The feeling of those criticizing the parents seems to be that Kelly has spent his entire career dodging other accusations, mostly involving claims of abuse of young women, and settling lawsuits, so parents "cannot" be surprised that their daughters may be in an alleged cult with the singer. But while it's understandable to feel rage and and frustration when seeing these accusations, turning that emotion on the parents of the women reportedly living with Kelly is unfair.
Of course these parents want their children to succeed. And, according to BuzzFeed's report, that's the opportunity that R. Kelly was allegedly presenting to these families. The singer reportedly told parents that his interest in their daughters was professional, not sexual; as a reported mother who goes by Theresa in the article claims, “We needed to make sure it was about music, because he was going to mentor her. And then from there he wanted her to travel with him, so she could see how the music game really was." When you're being offered something you want or that your child wants — like mentorship — it's easy to see why a parent might look past allegations in order to help their daughter succeed.
This is made even more difficult by the fact that the most high-profile case against Kelly ended in an acquittal. Theresa continues:
“My thing was I trusted. I have never been in the music industry before, ever. He is a lyrical genius — he is R. Kelly! And the fact is he went to court, he was never found guilty — he was acquitted — and we were led to believe there was no truth in it. Now I got all of these people asking about why my daughter is there, telling me, ‘All of that, the charges against Kelly, was true.’ Well, how come you didn’t tell me that before?”
So, instead of criticizing them, let's focus on what is happening now that these parents have come forward to address what they allege is an unsafe situation for their daughters. And let's put the onus where it actually belongs: on the person alleged to be leading the claimed cult and on the society that makes allowances for men like Kelly, leaving them in, or elevating them to, positions of power after previous allegations. It's understandable to miss a thing or two as a parent. You can't see everything, and teenagers aren't always open with their families. But what isn't understandable is that we still live in a world where victim-blaming is the norm.
The way to stop these situations like the one allegedly being led by Kelly isn't to try to educate parents on how they could've avoided victimization; it's to hold the alleged perpetrator accountable.