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Everything You Need to Know About R. Kelly’s Sexual Abuse Charges

By September 17, 2019 No Comments
Cover photo from Mike Pont/Getty Images. Retrieved from The Cut.

Ever been curious about R. Kelly’s various alleged sex crimes that have been in the news throughout 2019? As of earlier this week, you can now watch Surviving R. Kelly, the documentary miniseries produced by Lifetime, on Netflix.

What is R. Kelly accused of?

Sexual assault and abuse allegations have surrounded Robert Sylvester Kelly—known as R. Kelly—for years, but his career has continued to thrive. Until now.

Recently, a number of months after he was released on bail for additional sexual abuse charges brought by Illinois prosecutors, R. Kelly faced federal charges after two indictments allege that he made videos of himself sexually abusing minors, paid minors and their families to lie to investigators about allegations against him, and exposed one woman to a sexually transmitted disease without her knowledge.

CNN reports that a five-count indictment in the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly, 52, of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor and violations of the Mann Act involving the coercion and transportation of women and girls in interstate commerce to engage in illegal sexual activity from 1999 to the present.

“R. Kelly’s Enterprise was not only engaged in music; as alleged, for two decades the enterprise at the direction of R. Kelly preyed upon young women and teenagers whose dreams of meeting a superstar, soon turned into a nightmare of rape, child pornography and forced labor. The musician turned predator allegedly used his stardom to coax some victims into nefarious sex acts while certain members of his enterprise calculatingly facilitated the aberrant conduct,” Homeland Security Special Agent-in-Charge Angel Melendez said in a statement.

Kelly has consistently denied allegations of sexual misconduct in the past.

Related: How Mainstream Porn Fuels Child Exploitation And Sex Trafficking

The accusations in the New York indictment detail alleged incidents in four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. There are five Jane Does referenced throughout—including three minors. Kelly is the only defendant in the indictment filed July 10.

Also in July, a 13-count indictment against Kelly was released in the Northern District of Illinois.

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In it, he was charged with one count of conspiracy to receive child pornography, two counts of receiving child pornography, four counts of producing child pornography, five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

That indictment alleges Kelly made child pornography with as many as four girls under the age of 18 and that he and associates obstructed justice by paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to not cooperate with authorities, give false testimony to a grand jury and to buy back videos of sexual activity.

Click here to read the full report on CNN.com.

Surviving R. Kelly and the fallout of porn searches

Earlier this year, the new Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly brought renewed interest and attention onto deeply disturbing claims that Kelly has abused multiple women and girls and is holding some of them against their will. After the docuseries debuted, The Daily Dot reported that the six-part series led to an increase in attempts to find sex videos from the songwriter, some of which are alleged to include underage females. Yikes.

A writer named Kendra Jones posted screenshots to Twitter earlier this year (link trigger warning for pornographic terms) of the trending search terms from both Pornhub and Xvideos, some of the world’s largest free porn sites.

Related: Why Does Porn Get A Free Pass To Capitalize Off Of These Unacceptable Categories?

The Daily Dot confirmed that the term “Rkelly” was a top trend on Pornhub, while searches for “R kelly” and “R kelly sex tape” reached the top of the rankings on Xvideos.

As disturbing as these allegations are, this surge in searches on porn sites is even more disturbing considering he’s infamous for entering into manipulative and controlling “relationships” with underage girls and women. In other words, consumers are trying to seek out Kelly’s rape tapes with underage girls on porn sites, or they’re possibly searching for dramatized versions of this alleged abuse.

Either way, how is this at all acceptable in a society that claims to be fighting against abuse and exploitation?

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The disturbing twist to this uptick of searches

In this clip from Surviving R. Kelly, survivor Lisa Van Allen speaks out about the control and manipulation she endured while she was Kelly’s “girlfriend.” According to reports, Allen was just 17 when she believed that she was Kelly’s girlfriend, due to the fact that she spent all her time with him and they were having a sexual relationship.

RelatedWhy You Can’t Consistently Fight Sexual Abuse Without Also Fighting Porn

She details how Kelly would film their sexual encounters without her consent, and even mentions a filmed threesome she was coerced to have:

Back to that threesome. What is she talking about? Let’s take a closer look.

Allen was eventually one of the lucky few victims to break free from Kelly on her own terms, and says in the series that she started seeing the singer in a different light after he convinced her to have a threesome with another girl but did not reveal her actual age.

As it turns out, the other girl was just 14 years old, though Kelly lied to Allen and told her she was 16. The tape they had created was child porn, and this was allegedly not the first or last time Kelly had created illicit and disturbing tapes with underage girls.

RelatedThe Alarming Ways Porn Normalizes And Fetishizes Abuse

In 2002, Kelly was eventually charged with 21 counts of making child pornography, involving intercourse, oral sex, urination, and other sexual acts. The jury eventually concluded they could not prove that the girl on the tape was a minor, and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.

The documentary series detailed these disturbing actions that Kelly became infamous for: raping underage girls and sometimes filming these sexual encounters.

This fact, alone, makes the surge in porn site searches that much more disturbing. In multiple ways, this relates R. Kelly’s legacy to today’s mainstream porn.

Click here to read more about “Surviving R. Kelly” that details how this child porn tape landed Kelly in court.

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Consuming abusive content while speaking out against it?

As horrific and unacceptable as his alleged actions are, the celebrated and normalized porn industry regularly profits from scenarios just like them. Consider the facts.

All it takes is one quick search on a porn site to discover porn videos that dramatize and fantasize what would be considered abuse in real life—producers manipulating and/or coercing rising stars into having sex in exchange for a job or professional advice. These videos may feature what appear to be consenting adults, acting out a scenario from a script, but the ultimate aim of this content is much darker: to entertain the consumer with fantasized exploitation, in turn, normalizing it.

This is one disturbing and problematic way that Kelly’s legacy is tied to the porn industry. And in addition to that, the surge in “R. Kelly” searches on porn sites should be a wake-up call that porn is about exploitation and capitalizing off of abusive scenarios at its core.

Related: Life Mimics Porn: USA Gymnastics Team Doctor On Trial For Sexually Abusing 140 Gymnasts

It’s one thing to Google R. Kelly in the hopes of learning about the abuse allegations against him and the warrant out for his arrest, but it’s another to look him up on a porn site in the hopes of finding videos that either dramatize the alleged abusive tendencies he’s being accused of or actually document his allegedly illicit sexual encounters. How is this acceptable?

As a society, we cannot hope to truly fight abuse where it hides in plain sight while also seeking out content that fantasizes and normalizes that same abuse. We cannot have selective hearing, and hold selective accountability to all industries that are complicit in fueling and normalizing abuse…all except the porn industry, which has no means of being held accountable except through its consumers.

We hope you’ll stand with us in supporting survivors and shedding light on an industry that further fuels the existing issue of exploitation and abuse.

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