Lady Gaga has finally addressed the allegations of sexual and physical abuse against R. Kelly, saying she believes the women who have come forward.
In a statement published on social media on January 9, the award-winning performer also pledged to remove her duet with R. Kelly, “Do What U Want (With My Body),” from streaming platforms such as iTunes.
She wrote: “I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously. What I am hearing about the allegations against R. Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.”
Gaga then went on to explain that the song originated from “a dark time” in her life. Her intention at the time, she wrote, was to “create something extremely defiant and provocative because i was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my life.”
Lady Gaga first publicly disclosed she survived rape at the age of 19 at the hands of a man 20 years her senior, in a 2014 interview with Howard Stern.
She returned to the topic a year later, when she wrote the Academy Award-nominated song “Til it Happens to You” for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which investigated instances of campus rape at American universities.
In September, she told Vogue about the lasting impact of the assault, which gave her PTSD.
She concluded her post writing: “I’m sorry, both for my poor judgement when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you.”
Lady Gaga performed live with R. Kelly in 2013
The song “Do What U Want (With My Body)” came out in 2013, during Lady Gaga’s Artpop era.
Describing the collaboration in a 2013 press conference in Japan that has since resurfaced in outlets such as CNN, Lady Gaga said: “R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us, so in a way this was a bond between us.”
She added: “That we were able to say, the public, they can have our bodies, but they cannot have our mind or our heart. It was a really natural collaboration.”
The star and R. Kelly performed the duet live on television on two occasions, on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and at the American Music Awards (AMAs) in 2013.
Both performances were highly sexualised. On SNL, the two simulated a variety of sexual acts—the two hug at the end—while at the AMAs, R. Kelly impersonated a president who has an affair with a staffer, and then proceeds to deny he knows her when questioned by the press.
The performance made for a stomach-turning viewing for anyone who remembered the R’n’B singer was sued in 2001 by a former intern —who was 17 at the time of the allegations—who claimed she was “treated as his personal sex object and cast aside.” The case was settled outside of court for an undisclosed sum.
Allegations against R. Kelly resurface
That lawsuit was one of at least four proceedings that emerged against R. Kelly between 1996 and 2002.
Three of the women who filed the lawsuit claimed R. Kelly forced them into various sex acts while they were underage.
R. Kelly has always denied any wrongdoing.
In 2008, the singer was cleared of 14 counts of child pornography involving various sexual acts including urination and oral sex, in a trial where neither the alleged victim nor the alleged perpetrator testified. He had first been arrested on those charges in 2002.
R. Kelly was arrested for child pornography a second time in Florida in 2003. The police said they seized a camera allegedly showing the singer having sex with an underage girl but the judge in the case ruled the authorities lacked evidence to justify a search, and the charges were dropped in 2004.
In 2017, a BuzzFeed investigation by journalist Jim DeRogatis, who has been following R. Kelly’s abuse allegations for the past two decades, renewed the focus on the singer.
In the article, parents of several young women—all of them of legal age—claimed their daughters had been “brainwashed” into a ‘cult’ and were “being held against [their] will.”
R. Kelly strongly denied the claims.
In October 2018, R. Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly appeared on The View and described several instances during their 13-year marriage (from 1996 to 2009) in which he allegedly abused her—allegations R. Kelly denies.
“I wanted to bring validity to these women’s stories…So much of it falls on deaf ears and no one believes them…I was like, ‘If no one else is going to speak up for her, if no one else is going to believe her, at least she knows that I do,’” she said on the show.
Andrea was R. Kelly’s second wife. He had previously married late singer Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15 and he was 27. The singer had lied about her age and the marriage was eventually annulled in February 1995. She died in a plane crash in 2001.
Documentary series Surviving R. Kelly increases pressure on condemning the singer
In January, Lifetime screened the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly recapping the allegations of abuse, predatory behaviour and paedophilia. Again, R. Kelly’s lawyers denied the allegations.
After the documentary screened, several news outlets including CNN reported that Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney has opened an investigation into the singer.
Musician John Legend was one of the few celebrities who agreed to appear on the documentary. After it screened, he tweeted: “To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all. I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”
Pressure on Lady Gaga to speak out on the issue intensified after Surviving R. Kelly aired and producer Dream Hampton named the “Poker Face” singer as a person she wished had agreed to appear on the documentary during an interview on SiriusXM The Karen Hunter Show earlier this week.
“I wanted to know how Lady Gaga could be on SNL with him as someone who advocates for domestic abuse survivors and was, you know, had this ridiculous performance with him on SNL,” Hampton said.
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