R. Kelly sat down for an interview with Gayle King for CBS This Morning, during which he directly addressed the camera and denied any wrongdoing. “Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! I’m fighting for my fucking life!” he said, tears in his eyes. This is Kelly’s first televised interview since he was charged with ten counts of felony aggravated criminal sex abuse to which he has pleaded not guilty. Kelly often appeared combative with King, interrupting her and raising his voice. The full interview airs Wednesday morning on CBS This Morning. King also interviewed Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, the two women currently living with R. Kelly. That interview will air Friday, March 8. Savage’s family has accused Kelly of brainwashing Jocelyn and essentially kidnapping her into a sex cult, a charge Kelly denied in his interview. Kelly said it would be “stupid” of him to hold women against their will.
Update, March 6: In the full interview with King, Kelly says he agreed to sit down with CBS because he’s “tired of the lies.” Later in the interview, Kelly, shrieking and irate, gets out of his chair, approaches Gayle, and circles the room: “You’re killing me with this shit! I gave y’all 30 years of my career! And you’re trying to kill me?! This is not about music! I’m trying to have a relationship with my kids! And I can’t do it! Y’all just don’t wanna believe the truth!” King pauses the interview and Kelly’s publicist is brought in to calm him down.
Kelly later continues, “This is not true. It doesn’t make sense. Why would I hold all these women? Their mothers and fathers told me, ‘We gon’ destroy your career.’” He adds, “It’s real girls out there missing, being abducted, being raped. They really are in chains.” Kelly ends his rant by saying he needs someone to help him not have a big heart. “Because my heart is so big people betray me and I keep forgiving ‘em!” he exclaims, pounding his fist into his other hand. When King says Kelly is painting himself the victim, Kelly retorts, “I’m just telling the truth. And the reason I’m emotional, and I apologize for that, is this is the first time I was able to say something. I have said nothing.”
He also tells King that “nobody is allowed to be mad at me and scorned and lie on me.” He continues, shaking his head, “I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive.” Kelly dismisses all claims made in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly and says he was mischaracterized by both his alleged victims and former associates. “If you really look at that documentary, everybody says something bad about me. Nobody said nothing good,” he says. “They were describing Lucifer. I’m not Lucifer. I’m a man. I make mistakes, but I’m not a devil, and by no means am I a monster.”
Speaking on his relationship with two of his alleged victims who are currently living with him, Savage and Clary, he said he loves them and considers them his “girlfriends.” Pressed about the age gape — Kelly allegedly brought Clary into his circle when she was underage; both women are now in their early 20s — he says, “I don’t think of them as much younger than me, I just look at ‘legal.’” Kelly denies having had sexual contact with Clary when she was underage, but claims her parents wanted him to. He continued, “There are older men that like younger women … I’m an older man that loves all women.” Kelly blames Savage and Clary’s parents for them leaving home to live with him. (The families have maintained that Kelly is holding their daughters against their will; the women say they are with him consensually.) “What kind of father would sell their daughter to a man?” he says. “How come it was okay for me to see them until they wasn’t getting no money from it?” He insists the parents handed their daughters over to Kelly.
In a separate interview, Clary and Savage defended Kelly and backed up his claims that their parents are seeking to extort him. Clary, through tears and raising her voice, tells King, “I’m crying because you don’t know the truth. You believe this fucking façade that our parents are saying. This is all fucking lies for money! If you can’t see that, you’re ignorant and stupid.” CBS will air the rest of their interview on Friday.
Asked later in Kelly’s interview if he believes people should still support his music amid the allegations, Kelly says yes, but that it’s not his main concern. “I’m not really fighting for my career here. I’m fighting for my rights and I’m fighting to have a relationship with my kids most of all, more than anything,” he says. When asked if Kelly’s own history of being sexually abused as a child might’ve caused him to abuse minors, Kelly denied it. “No, no, no, no … Here I stand in the ‘not all’ [category].” He also says he is considering therapy.
In a statement from attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing Clary’s parents and one of the alleged underage victims, the Clarys denied seeking money from Kelly or “selling” their daughter to him.
“We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We have never asked R. Kelly for money. And we never “sold” our daughter to him or anyone else. R. Kelly is a desperate liar and serial abuser of young girls who should die in prison. All of the victims and parents cannot be lying.”
The Savages will hold a press conference later today to respond to Kelly’s interview.