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R. Kelly accused of holding young women against their will in ‘cult’

CHICAGO – A new report from BuzzFeed claims that singer R. Kelly is running an abusive “cult that’s tearing families apart.”

In the article, former Sun-Times music critic and Chicago-based journalist Jim DeRogatis reports that three people who were close to R. Kelly say six women live in properties rented by the artist in Chicago and the suburbs of Atlanta. DeRogatis goes on to say he was contacted by two sets of parents who claim their 18 and 21-year-old daughters were being held against their will.

The parents reportedly told Derogatis that R. Kelly controls every part of the women’s lives. If the women break his rules, they are punished physically and verbally.

“He tells them when to eat, when to sleep, how to dress, how to pleasure him in encounters that he records, takes their cell phones, cuts off contact with their friends and family. It’s a disturbing story,” he told WGN in a phone interview Monday.

DeRogatis said he worked the story for nine months and stands by every syllable. You can watch the full interview in the video above.

WGN reached out to R. Kelly’s media contact for comment Monday, but had not heard back by that evening.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Department tells WGN there is no investigation into the allegations. The department released a sheriff’s report connected to a well-being check that officers conducted at a property owned by R. Kelly in Chicago in January. Click here to see the full report.

According to the report, police visited a woman at the property because her parents believed she was being held there against her will. She told the officers she was fine and that she didn’t want to be bothered. Police said the woman appeared to be in good health with no visible injuries or markings.

Linda Mensch, a civil lawyer in Chicago who represents the R. Kelly, responded to DeRogatis via email regarding the accusations outlined in this story:

“We can only wonder why folks would persist in defaming a great artist who loves his fans, works 24/7, and takes care of all of the people in his life…He works hard to become the best person and artist he can be. It is interesting that stories and tales debunked many years ago turn up when his goal is to stop the violence; put down the guns; and embrace peace and love. I suppose that is the price of fame. Like all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that.”