Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post
R. Kelly’s estranged daughter has spoken out about allegations against her father for the first time since an explosive documentary about the R&B singer aired on Lifetime.
Joann Kelly, who goes by Buku Abi, posted a long statement on her Instagram story on Thursday: “I do apologize if my silence to all that is happening comes off as careless. That is my last intention. I pray for all the families & women who have been affected by my father’s actions. Trust, I have been deeply affected by all of this. However, it has been very difficult to process it all. Let alone gather all the right words to express everything I feel.”
She continued: “The same monster you all confronting me about is my father. I am well aware of who and what he is. I grew up in that house. My choice to not speak on him and what he does is for my peace of mind. My emotional state. And for MY healing.”
Andrea Lee, Joann Kelly’s mother, participated in the Lifetime docuseries, in which she claimed the singer was abusive during their marriage.
Kelly has been under a fresh round of intense scrutiny in the past week, following the airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” which takes a sweeping look at allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer. Discussions sparked by the docuseries, one of the highest-rated programs for Lifetime in recent years, not only dominated social media but also prompted the Cook County (Illinois) District Attorney to publicly ask for witnesses or victims related to the claims to come forward.
Families of two individuals have called Illinois prosecutors, and since a Tuesday news conference, more people have contacted the office, a spokesperson confirmed. Separately, an attorney representing Timothy and JonJelyn Savage, who claim their daughter has been brainwashed by Kelly, told The Washington Post that the Fulton County (Georgia) District Attorney’s office has asked to speak with his clients. (That office is not commenting on whether there’s an investigation into wrongdoing by Kelly.)
Kelly has long denied allegations of sexual encounters with minors and sexual assault. Steven Greenberg, an attorney for R. Kelly who did not return The Post’s inquiries, told “Good Morning America” on Friday that although he hadn’t watched the entire docuseries (he had seen “snippets”), that the claims laid out in the episodes were untrue.
“We know what happened, and we know those things didn’t happen,” Greenberg said. “The man was not operating a harem, or a sex cult, or holding people hostage or anything like that.”
While much of what’s described in “Surviving R. Kelly” isn’t new information, its scope and timing has led to an ongoing public outcry, the likes of which Kelly hasn’t experienced before. Celebrities have increasingly been denouncing the R&B singer, including John Legend and Chance the Rapper, who appeared in the docuseries.
“The truth is any of us who ever ignored the R Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being setup/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls,” Chance the Rapper subsequently tweeted. “I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out.”
Jada Pinkett Smith is devoting two episodes of her Facebook Watch show, “Red Table Talk,” to the allegations. She will interview accuser Lisa Van Allen on Friday’s episode.
Since the Lifetime series aired, Lady Gaga – who had been under pressure to denounce Kelly given her 2013 song with him, “Do What U Want” – issued a public apology this week for the collaboration and vowed to pull it from streaming services.
“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,” Lady Gaga wrote in a lengthy statement. “I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time” of the song, adding: “I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young and for not speaking out sooner.”
The band Phoenix apologized on Thursday for working with Kelly; it featured him on the remix of “Trying to Be Cool” and performed with him during its 2013 headlining set at Coachella.
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