R&B singer R. Kelly, one of the top-selling recording artists of all time, has been hounded for years by allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls — accusations he and his attorneys have long denied.
The award-winning artist is no longer welcome in Philadelphia.
City Council passed a non-binding resolution on Thursday that supported the growing campaign against the star, who has faced sexual misconduct allegations for decades, and prohibited Kelly from performing in Philadelphia.
Councilwoman Helen Gym, the main sponsor of the resolution, said Black women who are victims of sexual violence traditionally receive less news coverage. The symbolic legislation, she added, “puts all sexual predators on notice.”
“We don’t have to accept a future where rape is accepted, rapists get away with their crimes, and women are blamed for their own sexual assaults,” Gym said. “And that this resolution is about —stating a public declaration that R. Kelly and sexual predators like him don’t belong in a public sphere, with public support.”
Kelly has been accused of having inappropriate relationships with young women since the 1990s, when he married singer, actress and model Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old. The marriage was later annulled.
In 2008, R. Kelly was tried in Illinois on charges of making child pornography. The trial focused on a video of him allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. He was acquitted.
Kelly has been the subject of numerous civil lawsuits related to his relationships with young women; all of them have been settled out of court.
Buzzfeed News reported in 2017 that R. Kelly has been holding young women against their will in a type of “cult,” in which he controls every aspect of their lives. That report, among others, sparked the #MuteRKelly campaign.
The public outcry against Kelly has grown since Lifetime released the six-part documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” in January. The show features testimonials by numerous women who allege that Kelly had lured them into sexual relations when they were underage girls and abused them. Attorneys in Illinois have asked victims to step forward, in the hopes of bringing fresh charges against the star.
Kelly has denied the allegations.
In Philadelphia, City Council’s nonbinding resolution drew applause from organization heads.
Dr. Monique Howard, the executive director of Women Organized Against Rape, said Kelly’s alleged crimes have been able to continue for decades because of two things: Race and money. Kelly’s accusers were not believed because they were Black, she added.
“Robert Kelly’s victims were young, Black girls: undervalued and undercared for,” Howard said. “We must believe survivors. We must make sure that Black girls know that they matter and that they will be believed.”
LaQuisha Anthony, the founder of the sexual-abuse survivor network Victory Over Inconceivable Cowardly Experiences, said the resolution sends the message that “Black girls and women matter.”
“Banning R. Kelly sends the message that revenue is not more important than the safety and care of our women and girls,” she said.
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