As the news surrounding R. Kelly’s alleged sexual misconduct allegations intensifies, his daughter, Joann Kelly (an artist who goes by the name Buku Abi), has shared her opinion on the matter.
A reporter from TMZ ambushed the 20-year-old singer and visual artist to get her thoughts on the drama surrounding her father, and she was predictably torn. While it was clear she wasn’t prepared to offer a comment on the matter, Joann Kelly forged ahead anyway.
“I don’t have much of a comment,” she said. “It’s very close to my heart. It’s just hard because it’s family matters, you know? But, overall it’s hard. I try not to speak about it too much, but…it is what it is. I feel terrible.”
The reporter then probed her relationship with her father, asking, “Are you and Kells close?”
Again, the young woman attempted to remain respectful, though it was obvious she was uncomfortable talking about her relationship with her father.
“Umm, I mean, we’re family,” she said. “So…we’re gonna deal with each other.”
Joann Kelly’s uneasiness to discuss the troubling sexual misconduct allegations against her father may not have been the only reason she was hesitant to speak about their relationship. In 2005, her mother, Andrea Kelly, asked for a restraining order against her then-husband after she said he abused her.
“Last summer I was slapped for lying to him and we made up,” Andrea Kelly told a judge in September 2005, Vibe reported. “But I asked for a divorce and he pinned me down and he continued to hit me, yelling, ‘Don’t you leave me? Why are you leaving me?’”
R. Kelly has been plagued by claims that he engaged in inappropriate relationships with young women for years, stemming from his secret 1994 marriage to R&B star Aaliyah, who was just 15 at the time, and a slew of lawsuits by young women who said he engaged in various sex acts with them while they were underage.
Last year, Buzzfeed published an investigative report claiming R. Kelly was running a “sex cult” in his Atlanta home and was physically and verbally abusive to the women involved. In March, BBC Three released a documentary that featured conversations with several of the singer’s associates about his alleged predilection for teenage girls.
In the documentary, R. Kelly's former business manager, Rocky Bivens, said he would have to convince the singer not to try to have sex with teens, because “when it came to sex, it was sex to Robert. If a girl was in a room and she had a big booty, she had a big booty. If she was 15 or 20, she had a big booty to him. Period."
Though stories of R. Kelly’s actions have floated through the industry for years, they now seem to be having an effect on the singer’s bottom line. Activists have launched a #MuteRKelly campaign to prevent venues from booking the artist, and recently, the singer’s lawyer, assistant, and publicist have all stopped working with him. Tuesday, Tom Joyner announced he would no longer play R. Kelly’s music on his show.