R. Kelly‘s girlfriends Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary are coming to his defense after denying claims the singer has been holding them hostage in his home for years.
Ahead of the full interview, set to air Thursday on CBS This Morning, the show shared an emotional clip from the conversation with the women, who vehemently deny the singer tore them away from their now-estranged families. The parents of both Savage and Clary claim the women are living with Kelly against their will and are a part of what the parents describe as his “sex cult.”
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth,” Clary said in the video. “You guys are believing some f—ing facade that our parents are saying. This is all f—ing lies for money, and if you can’t see that, you’re ignorant and you’re stupid.”
Clary’s parents Alice and Angelo were interviewed in the explosive docu-series Surviving R. Kelly — which aired on Lifetime in early January — claiming they haven’t had contact with their daughter for nearly three years. Savage’s parents, Timothy and Jonjelyn, were also interviewed in the series, where they revealed they believe R. Kelly is holding their daughter against her will.
On Wednesday morning, Kelly, 52, struggled to contain his emotions when he, too, sat down with CBS This Morning host King for the first interview following his arrest, where he spoke out about his “real” relationship with the young women.
“I love them and it’s almost like, they’re my girlfriends,” Kelly said. “It’s like, you know, we have a relationship. It’s real. And I know guys, I’ve known guys all my life that have five or six women, okay? So don’t go there on me, okay? Because that’s the truth.”
Although Kelly has been accused of engaging in sexual acts with a minor, he alluded to the fact that Savage, 23, and Clary, 21, are both of age when King inquired about the 30-year gap between the women and the singer.
“I don’t look at much younger than me, I just look at legal,” he noted. “I just look at, you’re you, I’m me. Now I don’t know if you’re married. I don’t know. I don’t know if you had a relationship. I don’t know. But one might be older than the other, one might be younger than the other, okay? So I just look at legal, okay? There are older men that like younger women. There are younger women that like older men…. I’m an older man that loves all women.”
Kelly said he believes both of the women’s parents were initially the driving forces behind the relationships.
“I didn’t go looking for a Joycelyn Savage,” he claimed the interview. “I was doing my show. [Her father] brought her and asked a friend of mine to put her on the stage with R. Kelly; make sure she’s on the stage.”
The Clarys told CBS This Morning that their daughter Azriel also met Kelly at one of his concerts. He pulled her on stage during one of his performances in 2015, when she was 17 years old, and the Clarys said they hoped she would become his protégée. In Clary and Savage’s interview with King, Clary claimed her parents encouraged her to say she was 18. “When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age. He thought that I was 18,” she told King. “They even lied to the police … so here’s this man thinking that I’m 18.”
After Kelly told King he is currently “seeing” Clary, King inquired as to whether he was seeing or having sex with Clary while she was underage.
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Kelly replied. “Although her parents wanted me to.”
When King questioned Kelly about why his love keeps women away from their families, Kelly replied, “I’m going to answer your question. What kind of father, what kind of mother, will sell their daughter to a man? How come it was okay for me to see them until they weren’t getting no money from it?”
“Why would you take your daughter — I’m going to take my daughter and she’s 19 years old to a 49-year-old icon, whatever, celebrity or R. Kelly concert or whoever it is, I’m not going to put her on the stage, and leave her,” he added, claiming the women’s parents “absolutely” handed their daughters over to him. “I’m going to take her to the concert. Their father is more into my music and know about my music than they do.”
“You’re saying the parents handed their daughters over to you?” King clarified. “Absolutely,” Kelly replied.
In Savage and Clary’s interview with King, airing Thursday, Savage backed up Clary’s claims. “Everything she’s saying is true. Our parents are basically out here to get money and scam, because they didn’t agree with what happened — with music or whatever it could be — and they’re just very upset.”
Clary’s parents, Alice and Angelo, released a statement via their attorney, Michael Avenatti, ahead of the interview, claiming their daughter has “suffered severe mental abuse” living with “a manipulator and sociopath.”
“We love our daughter Azriel very much and we miss her,” the statement reads. “Azriel has suffered severe mental abuse at the hands of R. Kelly for years. She is also likely suffering from symptoms similar to those found with Stockholm Syndrome. R. Kelly is a liar, a manipulator and sociopath who must be brought to justice for his decades of sexual assault on underage girls. All of these victims and their parents cannot be lying.”
Following Kelly’s emotionally charged interview, Savage called her parents and told them she’s “very happy” after not speaking to them in two years.
“I’ve told you guys a million, million times, that I’m okay and I’m very happy, you know where I’m at,” Savage repeated during the phone call, which was held at the office of her family’s Atlanta lawyer, Gerald Griggs, after they held a press conference criticizing Kelly’s interview and pleading to hear her voice.
Griggs told USA TODAY Savage hung up after about three minutes and “appeared to be reading from a script.”
Joycelyn Savage, Timothy Savage, Jonjelyn Savage, Azriel Clary, Alice Clary and Angelo Clary could not be immediately reached for comment. Griggs and Avenatti did not immediately return requests for comment by PEOPLE.
Kelly was released from jail on Feb. 25 after being indicted by a grand jury on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four alleged victims, Cook Country Sheriff confirmed to PEOPLE.
The R&B singer secured his release by paying 10 percent of his $1 million bail amount. Hours earlier, Kelly’s attorney Steven Greenberg pleaded not guilty on Kelly’s behalf, reported the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Kelly was arrested again for failure to pay outstanding child support. Cook County Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari told the Associated Press Kelly will be transferred to the county jail, where he will remain until he pays $161,000 in back child support that he owes.
Kelly’s alleged behavior came to the media forefront again in July 2017, when BuzzFeed published a bombshell report accusing the star of running a “sex cult” out of his Chicago and Atlanta-area homes, and after the release of Surviving R. Kelly in January.
According to those reports, the star allegedly seduced a number of young women with the promise of helping them kickstart a music career, only to “groom” them into being his personal sex objects for whom he allegedly controlled every aspect of their lives.
Kelly has repeatedly denied all claims against him. He is due in court again on March 13 regarding child support and March 22 on the sexual abuse charges.
If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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