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6 Standout Moments From Final Night of 'Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning'

R. Kelly
E. Jason Wambsgans-Pool/Getty Images

R. Kelly appears at a hearing before Judge Lawrence Flood at Leighton Criminal Court Building June 26, 2019 in Chicago.

Lifetime’s retrospective five-part, three night docu-series Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning chronicles the stories of survivors who have brought forth allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against the embattled musician. The follow-up to the network’s 2019’s Emmy-nominated original program highlights the reactions and responses to the documentary and the survivors featured, as well as Kelly’s current legal situation.

Shortly after last year’s doc became a hot topic, Kelly’s label RCA dropped him from their roster. In February 2019, after monthlong in-depth investigation, the singer was arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women in Illinois. Months later, he was subsequently hit with 18 additional federal sexual abuse-related charges in both New York and Illinois. Kelly has been denied bail, and one of his trials has been set for April 2020.

Part five of the series, “Bring Our Girls Home,” aired Saturday (Jan. 4), and focuses primarily on the families of Kelly’s two current girlfriends, Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary. Both families say that it’s been between three and four years since they’ve seen their daughters, which has understandably taken a toll on their emotional health and respective family dynamics.

Those who are directly affected or suspect someone they love is suffering from sexual abuse is encouraged to contact The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE.

Here are six takeaways from the final night of Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning.

Both Joycelyn and Azriel Had Music Industry Aspirations
Joycelyn Savage’s younger sister Jailyn says that her sister’s passion was music; Joycelyn’s former producer Milligotwaves and songwriter Antonio Booze say she was inspired by artists like Ciara and Aaliyah. Survivor Lizzette Martinez called Azriel “so vivacious” after seeing videos of her as a teen, and was in awe of her singing gifts.

After meeting Kelly at a concert and exchanging contact information, Savage was flown to Oklahoma to work with him. When Antonio asked if he could accompany her, Kelly denied his request. She kept her budding relationship with Kelly a secret to her parents, flying out often to see him in lieu of attending her college classes. The lies continued after Joycelyn claimed that Kelly was recruiting several girls including her, Azriel and Dominique Gardner for a singing group. Eventually, she moved out of her dorm room and into Kelly’s house.

Azriel’s Mother Shut Down After Daughter’s Gayle King Interview
During a highly-publicized interview with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King in March 2019, Azriel and Joycelyn claimed that neither of them wanted to be singers, with Azriel saying that her parents forced music on her. In a fit of hysterical rage, she alleges that she tried to commit suicide as a “cry out for help” to stop them.

Azriel’s brother Armani and her sister Al’ceis state that their mother felt “betrayed” by her claims, as she helped their sister with choreography, costumes, rehearsals and more. Mrs. Clary reportedly called out of work after the interview aired, and did not answer phone calls for days.

“All of that hard work and all those hours lost of sleep ... they were only doing this stuff because Azriel wanted it,” Armani exclaims. The family also says that she attempted suicide as a teenager after a bad breakup, not because of music.

R. Kelly Trained His Victims Not to Go Against Children
During a heartbreaking interaction during the top of the episode, Joycelyn’s parents attempted to speak with their daughter over the phone after not being able to see her face-to-face for years. While she initially sounded combative on the phone, it was the sound of Joycelyn’s younger sisters’ voices that changed her demeanor, if only for a moment.

According to the Savage family and survivor Jerhonda Pace, Kelly told his girlfriends that while they’re not able to speak to their parents or other adults, they’re able to speak to children and younger siblings. After briefly talking with her sisters, Joycelyn’s behavior turned cold once more when her parents got back on the phone.

“He’s in control at all times, and it’s scary,” Joycelyn’s father Timothy says. “He made the call to tell my daughter to hang up the phone ... like it’s a prison call.”

Both Families Went to Great Lengths to Retrieve Their Daughters
Just as Dominique Gardner’s mother Michelle did during the original series in 2019, both the Savage and Clary families had to “play chess, not checkers” in order to get their daughters back.

In July 2019, the entire Savage family flew to Chicago and called for a wellness check on Joycelyn, who they believed was staying in Kelly’s home at the Trump Tower. She was apparently not in the building when police went to check on her, which prompted a prayer circle from her loved ones. As the family attorney Gerald Griggs says, “They are resolute in getting contact with their daughter, no matter what it takes in the bounds of the law.”

The Clary family tried to infiltrate an R. Kelly concert in Tampa, Fla., in 2018 in order to rescue Azriel. After seeing her on stage, Mrs. Clary snuck into the pit, which was full of die-hard “superfans.” She managed to get on stage before two “aggressive” security guards tried to pull them both away. Armani Clary says that he attempted to rescue his mother, who was placed “in a headlock” by one of the security guards. The family was arrested and whisked to the police station in separate cars.

According to the series’ epilogue, Azriel has reunited with her family, yet continues to support Kelly as he awaits trial. Joycelyn still lives in Chicago’s Trump Tower.

The Savage And Clary Family Dynamics Changed Drastically
Both families have been the subject of Internet scrutiny after the documentary aired last year, with several calling the girls’ parents “pimps” who “sold out” their children to an alleged abuser.

Internet trolls aside, the dynamics of these families have inexplicably shifted. Joycelyn Savage reportedly did not attend her grandfather’s funeral due to Kelly’s controlling ways. The Clary children state that their father has been told by his co-workers to take breaks in his conquest to get his daughter back, and has gone at least four days without sleeping.

Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Clary have experienced issues in their 25-year marriage, a result they directly correlate to their daughter’s relationship with R. Kelly. They state they’ve blamed each other for what happened to Azriel, and that it drew them apart.

The Long-Awaited Reckoning Has Opened Up Larger Conversations
There will always be the difficult conversation of separating the artist from their art, and figures interviewed for this episode were split. Destiny’s Child’s manager Mathew Knowles states that art is an “expression,” and that R. Kelly’s art may make someone feel something special. However, Joanne Smith, president and CEO of Girls for Gender Equality, says that listening to Kelly’s music signals a bigger societal issue.

“If you can still listen to his music ... you need to come to terms with your own survivorship around sexual violence, and your own contentment with how girls are treated,” she said, adding, “His music is violent.”

Nonetheless, the survivors of Kelly are aiming to protect not just his victims, but all victims of sexual violence. Survivor Asante McGee has hopes that people will be more “mindful” of survivors in the future, and will listen to their stories before it’s too late.


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