Megyn Kelly waded into the debate over the multiple accusations of sexual abuse against R. Kelly on Tuesday morning (May 8) on Megyn Kelly TODAY, speaking with a pair of women who allege the singer trapped them against their will and the parents of a woman who claim their daughter has been brainwashed and held captive for several years by Kelly.
Joycelyn Savage, 22, has been at the center of the current controversy surrounding Kelly since last summer, when she issued a videotaped plea on TMZ to be left alone, denying that she’s been brainwashed or that she was being manipulated by Kelly. Her father, Tim Savage, told Megyn Kelly that he believes his daughter is being controlled by the singer and that interviews such as the one on TMZ are part of a plan by Kelly and his team to manipulate the narrative around his relationships with the young women in his orbit.
“The only thing we wanted from day one was to see our daughter and make sure she was physically fine and mentally fine,” said Tim Savage, explaining why he videotaped a December 2016 intervention with his daughter and posted it on YouTube. “Because people need to know that this man is a predator. People need to know certain words you would say to Joycelyn…it triggered her. It triggered her to run out of the house like a madwoman.”
Joycelyn initially met the “I Believe I Can Fly” star when she was an aspiring teen singer, but the Savages described how their daughter increasingly began to spend time alone with the decades-older musician, which worried them. Several years after their relationship began, Joycelyn disappeared from college at age 19 to move in with Kelly, at which point the Savages said they began to lose contact with their daughter and suspect that Kelly was asserting control over Joycelyn’s life.
Tim Savage described reaching over to touch his daughter’s arm on the car ride back to college after the intervention and having her freeze up “like somebody had been beating on her.”
A spokesperson for Kelly could not be reached for comment at press time, but Joycelyn (through the singer’s management) provided a statement to TODAY that read: “I am an adult, 22 years old, and I call on my parents to stop telling lies about me and my relationship with R. Kelly. I am building my own life and my own career. My parents are hurting me by depicting me in public as ‘brainwashed’ or a ‘sex’ object…it was my parents who introduced me to R. Kelly three years ago. They were looking out not for me, but for their own financial gain, hoping that R. Kelly would make me an instant star. I happen to care for R. Kelly and I enjoy my relationship with him.”
“That’s so inaccurate,” mother JonJelyn Savage responded, as her husband pointed out that their daughter’s name was misspelled in the statement (with the “y” from JoyCelyn missing). Noting that it’s not the first time the spelling error has occurred in a statement from the Kelly camp on their daughter’s behalf; the parents speculated that the statement was drafted not by JoyCelyn herself, but by Kelly’s manager, James Mason, who has waged a public battle with the Savages over their claims. A spokesperson for Kelly had not provided a response to the claims at press time.
Megyn Kelly also spoke to two women who had years-long relationships with R. Kelly, with both describing him as manipulative, controlling and sometimes violent.
Asante McGee said she dated Kelly from 2014-2016 and briefly lived in one of his homes. She said upon their initial meeting in 2013 Kelly struck her as a “wonderful guy” who always made her laugh and flew her back and forth between his shows, inviting her to ride on his tour bus during the summer of 2016 from city-to-city. But once she moved into his house in Atlanta, she said things turned dark. She described a time when she sat in a hotel room in Chicago for three days waiting to hear from Kelly before being summoned to a studio to wait once more for the man she and the other women in his entourage had to call “daddy.” If you didn’t refer to him that way, “you would get in trouble,” she said.
At the time she was with Kelly, McGee said there were four other women around, including Joycelyn, who she emphatically said did not appear to be there of her own free will. “He tries to say your family’s jealous that you’re with him,” she said of the way Kelly allegedly plays mind games with the women. “Your family wants to be with him and you’re happy and this is what you need to do.” If you disobeyed one of his orders, she said he would “fake cry” to make you sympathize with him.
A week ago, Kelly’s management issued a statement in response to the rising #MuteRKelly campaign in the wake of the Women of Color from the Time’s Up movement joining the cause. “We fully support the rights of women to be empowered to make their own choices. Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts,” read the statement. Soon it will become clear Mr. Kelly is the target of a greedy, conscious and malicious conspiracy to demean him, his family and the women with whom he spends his time. Kelly’s music is a part of American and African-American culture that should never—and will never—be silenced. Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or for being accused of it. We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
“That’s bullcrap,” McGee said in response to Megyn Kelly’s airing of the statement.
Kitti Jones told Megyn Kelly that she started dating R. Kelly in June 2011, giving up her job as a DJ and moving into his Chicago-area home, where, she said, he became violent “within weeks,” as chronicled in her book (soon to be made into a film) I Was Somebody Before This. Jones said the physical abuse began after she confronted the singer over a videotape featuring the girl who was at the center of a child pornography trial in which Kelly was acquitted in 2008.
She said Kelly introduced her to the girl (then a young woman) and when she saw the tape she realized it was the same woman and after she asked Kelly about it he allegedly flew into a rage. Jones also detailed many of the same allegations that have come out from other former members of the star’s alleged “sex cult,” including his insistence that the women wear sweatpants, stand up when Kelly walks into a room, be on his phone plan and ask permission to use the bathroom.
“We would have to send a text message to one of his runners just asking if you could go to restroom,” she said, noting that the request would then be relayed to Kelly for an answer, adding that the women were not allowed to walk around the house unaccompanied at any time. “The same way as if you met a guy at a gas station…you don’t think when you go into something and you give up something and you compromise,” Jones explained about how she got sucked into the singer’s secretive world. “When you give those things up for love you don’t expect that that person will turn into something else. I felt like I gave up everything and once I was there I was in it.”
Meanwhile, R. Kelly was spotted shopping with Joycelyn Savage on April 28 at a mall in Chicago, according to TMZ. The site said the pair looked “super couple-y” and that there was “no indication of distress or forced behavior on Joycelyn’s end…In fact, they look more like they’re dating.”
Check out the interviews below.