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R. Kelly's Ex-Wife Accuses Him Of Physical Abuse

Singer R. Kelly, performing in 2013.
Erika Goldring
Singer R. Kelly, performing in 2013.

R. Kelly's ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, has now accused the R&B singer of multiple incidents of physical abuse. The woman, who was married to R. Kelly from 1996 to 2009, made her allegations on an episode of the ABC talk show The View last Thursday.

Andrea Kelly said that one incident, which she did not date or place, occurred in the back seat of a Hummer, during which R. Kelly allegedly pinned her left arm behind her back and choked her with his forearm. "The only reason I think I made it out is because I said, 'Robert, you're going to kill me. I can't breathe. You have to get your arm off of my neck.' I just remember sitting in the back of the Hummer and it got blue, and I thought, 'Oh my God. I'm going to die in the back of this Hummer, and he's going to drive off with my body in the back seat and nobody's going to know." She said that she suffers from PTSD as a result of that alleged incident.

On another occasion, Andrea Kelly said, the couple was arguing. She said that she tried to walk away but that R. Kelly allegedly threw her face-down onto a bed, took the belt from his nearby robe and hogtied her four limbs together. She said that he left her in that state, but that she managed to loosen the tie and escape after he fell asleep. Again, she did not offer a date or location for this incident.

She also accused him of changing her cell phone number without her knowledge, and said that her parents eventually went to a Chicago Sun-Times journalist to try to reach her. Andrea Kelly said that it was a method of isolating her from her family and friends — and observed that parents of some of the women with whom R. Kelly has recently been living have said that they also can no longer contact their daughters.

Andrea Kelly told The View that she came very close to suicide, but says that when she envisioned her children's reaction, she changed her mind, and decided to divorce him. "That was my darkest moment," she said. "Because as a mom, when you're willing to leave your babies without their mom, that is your lowest low. You live for your children. The fact that I was willing to leave them let me know the best thing you have to do for you and your children to live is leave."

Andrea Kelly said that she decided to come forward not in light of the #MeToo movement more generally, but specifically because some allegations made on a talk show — seemingly, but not definitely, against her ex-husband — mirrored what she says happened to her.

"Some of the specific things she described in detail, I had been through, I mean, verbatim." Andrea Kelly told The View. "It was just something about that that pierced my spirit ... "I was like, 'If no one else is going to speak up for her, if no one else is going to believe her, at least she knows that I do.' "

In 2005, Andrea Kelly filed for a restraining order against R. Kelly, saying that he had hit her when she asked for a divorce. She says that they were already living separately when he stood on trial in Chicago against charges of child pornography. R. Kelly was acquitted of all 14 counts brought against him.

Earlier this year, a group of women of color within the Time's Up movement joined a pre-existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly, which has called for the music industry to cut its ties with the singer.

The View stated that they reached out to R. Kelly's management team about Andrea Kelly's allegations, but that they had no comment.

In July, the singer released a 19-minute song called "I Admit," in which he referenced and denied many of the accusations made against him. In April, the singer's representatives released a statement responding to the #MuteRKelly campaign, in which they said, in part: "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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.