CHICAGO (CBS) — Long before R. Kelly was a musical hit maker, he had an unsettling pattern of behavior with young girls, according to a Chicago woman who says she witnessed it when she was a teenager.
This comes as the Cook County State’s Attorney made an urgent plea regarding the embattled singer.
It’s the result of a documentary about the Chicago born singer and his alleged treatment of women and girls over the last 30 years.
It’s put the spotlight back on Kelly’s alleged troubles, but his lawyer is dismissing it as trashy TV.
The docuseries Surviving R. Kelly did more than shock. TMZ reports it has sparked a criminal investigation in Georgia.
And here in Cook County, there are now calls for any R. Kelly sexual abuse victims to come forward.
“Please come forward,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a press conference. “There is nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses.”
The Lifetime documentary aired last week. One woman after another shares stories about allegedly being sexually abused by the singer, in some cases when they were underage.
None of it shocks Chicago writer Mikki Kendall, who appeared in the docuseries. She says Kelly frequented a Kenwood McDonald’s in the late 80s and early 90s, trolling, as she put it, for high school girls.
“I saw girls be approached,” she said. “I saw some girls go. Some girls didn’t. It had kind of at this point become sort of known. You’d see him at other McDonald’s sometimes too. It was always around 3:30 until, like, 5:00, 6:00.”
Kelly has lived under a cloud of sexual misconduct speculation for decades, culminating in 2002 when he was charged with 21 counts of child pornography, accused of making a sex tape with an underage girl.
He was acquitted in 2008, but rumors and talk of R. Kelly’s so-called sex cults continued. Kendall says she’s not surprised by the lack of outrage.
“No one cares because we’re black girls,” she said. “No one cares because he’s preying on black girls. I know people care today, but he’s been able to operate for decades.”
But outrage is growing. Chicago rapper Common weighed in on the series.
“I can’t condone that, and I shouldn’t be allowing that to happen,” he said. “We failed our community as black people.”
There is now a Mute R. Kelly website. Activist and actress Jada Pinkett Smith is on social media expressing concern at a reported spike in R. Kelly downloads since the docuseries aired.
“And I’m having a really difficult time understanding why,” she said.
Kendall says she hopes Foxx’s request for people to come forward works.
R. Kelly’s attorney Stephen Greenberg is calling Foxx’s urging that any victims call her office absurd.
Greenberg says the state’s attorney shouldn’t be soliciting cases, adding there are no current complaints and no evidence because it didn’t happen.
The Fulton County, Georgia, district attorney would not comment on the reports of an investigation into Kelly.