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By Doha Madani and Elisha Fieldstadt
Singer R. Kelly in his first interview since he was indicted on sexual abuse charges vehemently denied the allegations, saying they are “not true.”
Kelly, 52, told CBS News’ Gayle King in an interview that aired Wednesday morning, “I didn’t do this stuff.”
“This is not me. I’m fighting for my f—ing life,” he said.
“Thirty years of my career! And y’all trying to kill me? You killing me, man! 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 want to believe the truth! You don’t want to believe it!,” he said while standing for emphasis during the interview.
Kelly later denied what he called the “lies” that have been told about him.
“Handcuffing people, starving people. I have a harem, what you call it — a cult. I don’t even really know what a cult is. But I know I don’t have one,” he said.
“I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive.”
The singer was charged in Chicago on Feb. 22 with 10 counts of felony aggravated sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty.
An unsealed indictment released at the time he was charged listed four people who were allegedly victimized by Kelly. They were identified only by initials in the court papers.
Allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer gained renewed attention this year with the airing of a Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” in early January. The six-part show contains interviews with women who accuse Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Sony Music parted ways with the Grammy-winning artist in the wake of the series.
Responding to how women described him during the docuseries, Kelly said, “They was 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.”
The alleged sex acts occurred between May 1998 and January 2010, prosecutors said. Three of the women were under the age of 17 when the alleged acts occurred, according to authorities.
Kelly and his lawyers have consistently denied that he has engaged in illegal activity.
When asked by King if he’s done anything wrong, Kelly responded, “Lots of things wrong when it comes to women that I apologized, but I apologized in those relationships at the time that I was in the relationships, OK?” He then again denied that he had broken any laws.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Kelly, has faced allegations before. He was criminally accused of sexual misconduct in 2002, eventually tried on child pornography charges in the same case and cleared by a jury in 2008 on all counts.
He told King in the interview that “people are going back to my past — that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re going back to the past and they’re trying to add all of this stuff now to that.”
When King asked whether “the past is relevant” to the current charges, Kelly said, “Absolutely, no it’s not.”
“I beat my case,” he said. “When you beat something, you beat it. You cannot double jeopardy me like that, it’s not fair.”
Kelly also spoke about his relationships with the two women who live with him in Chicago, Joycelyn Savage, 23, and Azriel Clary, 21.
“I love ’em and it’s almost — it’s like they’re my girlfriends,” he said.
King asked if Kelly has ever held anyone against their will, to which he angrily responded, “I don’t need to. Why would I?”
“How stupid would it be for R. Kelly — with all I’ve been through in my way, way past — to hold somebody,” Kelly said.
Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents at least one of Kelly’s alleged victims and Clary’s parents, tweeted a statement from her family Tuesday evening.
“Azriel has suffered severe mental abuse at the hands of R. Kelly for years … R. Kelly is a liar, manipulator and sociopath who must be brought to justice for his decades of sexual assaults on underage girls. All of these victims and their parents cannot be lying,” Avenatti wrote.
They later said that they had never “sold” their daughter to him, which Kelly had implied in the interview.
Savage’s parents also deny they had sold their daughter to Kelly, the attorney said during a news conference with the family Wednesday.
He said Savage’s parents and sisters haven’t spoken directly from her in two years.
Savage’s mother, Jonjelyn Savage, spoke directly to her daughter during the news conference.
“Jocelyn if you are seeing this. I love you dearly,” Jonjelyn Savage said. “Not seeing you for two years is a clear indication that something is wrong — just want to make sure you are safe and sound.
During his interview, Kelly addressed the camera and asked viewers to use their “common sense.”
“Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want, love me if you want but just use your common sense,” Kelly said.