r. kelly
photo: Getty

Although it's been an open secret since R. Kelly married his 15-year-old protégé Aaliyah when he was 27 years old, most people never seemed to care that Kelly had a reputation as a sexual predator. 

In 2017, a BuzzFeed News investigation exposed Kelly as an alleged cult leader who recruited young women and cut them off from their family and friends. Still, the tide did not turn. Many believe what should have been a #MeToo moment was quickly dismissed because Kelly's victims are black. 

One woman would not give up. Dream Hampton created the documentary series Surviving Kelly in which the singer's victims spoke out about the sexual abuse they faced. Finally, authorities have begun to investigate the singer. 

Executive producer Dream Hampton, determined to expose the truth about the once-beloved R. Kelly, created the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.

In 2017, BuzzFeed published an article about R. Kelly's cult. Parents and former members of Kelly's inner circle told BuzzFeed News that the R&B legend was luring women in and holding them hostage.

The documentary, which alleges R. Kelly is a child predator and serial abuser, was so controversial that the very first screening was shut down due to death threats.

In the article, parents who went by the names J. and Tim were desperate to reunite with their 19-year-old daughter who met Kelly backstage at a concert two years before. 

So why hasn't the police intervened?

Because J. and Tim's daughter isn't technically missing; she's living with Kelly in Duluth, Georgia, so authorities including the police and FBI never believed a crime took place. While the daughter says she is OK, other clues suggest to her parents that she isn't well. 

“It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” J. said. “I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she’s in love, and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her. I don’t know what to do. I hope that if I get her back, I can get her treatment for victims of cults. They can reprogram her. But I wish I could have stopped it from happening.”

Could the young woman in question really be there of her own will? 

Former members of Kelly's inner circle, Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee, told BuzzFeed they believe Kelly is running a cult. The three say a den mother lives in Kelly's Georgia home and studio to "train" newcomers on how to sexually satisfy Kelly. 

If women break his house rules, Kelly is said to physically abuse them.

They claim the women, who range in ages 18–25, are required to call the singer "Daddy" and need his permission to leave the premises. They allege that Kelly confiscates each woman's cell phone to cut off contact with her friends and family. Kelly also allegedly films all of his sexual encounters and shows the videos to his friends. Kelly controls what the women wear, according to Mack.

Surviving Kelly premiered to 1.9 million viewers and was the largest social premiere in the Lifetime network's history. 

"R. Kelly's been doing this for at least three decades, so he literally has dozens, if not hundreds, of survivors. I think women who decided to put themselves out here for this, for no paycheck, to be ridiculed, doxxed, disbelieved, trolled, absolutely self-identify as survivors," Hampton told Complex. 

There have been multiple allegations, and Kelly has denied them all. 

After BuzzFeed's exposé, Jerhonda Pace bravely came forward to reveal she had a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was 15 years old. The allegations were corroborated by legal documentation of payments and settlements between her and Kelly.

Because Aaliyah wasn't proof enough.

Kelly married 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994. Kelly was 27. He then wrote the album Age Ain't Nothin But A Number for her. In 2008, he was charged with and acquitted of making child pornography after a video allegedly showed him having sex with a 14-year-old child. Chicago attorney Susan E. Loggins has settled numerous lawsuits between Kelly and young women. 

Kelly released a 19-minute song called "I Admit" in response to the seemingly dozens of accusations. 

Here are some of the disgusting lyrics:

"I admit that she was over age / I admit that I was feelin' her and I admit that she was feelin' me / I admit that that's the shit that comes with being a celebrity / I ain't chasing these ladies, no / These ladies are chasing me, yeah / Now I'm only saying all this shit, ’cause how they tryna play me, yeah / I admit that this is no disrespect to the parents / But this is my advice to you ’cause I'm also a parent / Don't push your daughter in my face, and tell me that it's okay / ’Cause your agenda is to get paid, and get mad when it don't go your way.”

Georgia officials are finally opening an investigation into Kelly.

Literally because Hampton did not give up on Kelly's survivors, Surviving Kelly sparked an investigation into the alleged predator. The Fulton County District Attorney's Office in Atlanta is reaching out to the survivors who appeared in the documentary series. 

Celebrities are finally speaking out. 

While over 40 celebrities who have collaborated with Kelly, including Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and Celine Dion, have refused to speak out, John Legend has been particularly vocal. 

Chance The Rapper admitted that he didn't believe the victims largely because of his own bias against black women. Sadly, this is the case for many people. 

Lock him up. 

According to Stanford University, "Only about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false, the same percentage as for other felonies." 

With so many women coming forward, decades of secret settlements, people who have worked with the man spilling the truth — there's no reason not to believe the allegations are true. 

Watch a preview of the documentary that is changing everything for these brave women.