For more than two decades R. Kelly, the multiplatinum R&B idol repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, has outrun his reputation. In the age of #MeToo, it may finally be catching up to him.
Since the first major newspaper investigation by The Chicago Sun-Times into allegations of abuse by the singer in 2000, Mr. Kelly has consistently denied that he has been violent and sexually coercive with women and young teenagers even as he has settled lawsuits, dating to the mid-1990s, with accusers. In 2008 he was acquitted of child pornography charges despite videotape evidence that, prosecutors contended, showed him urinating on and having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Before, during and after, he sold out concerts, gave defiant interviews and, with the support of a major label, put out smash albums featuring hit singles like “Bump N’ Grind,” “I Believe I Can Fly” and “I’m a Flirt.” Seemingly Teflon to scandal, R. Kelly has skirted most consequences — legal, financial, social — relying on a sturdy back catalog, a steady team of employees and a legendarily loyal fan base.
But in recent months, following a women-led movement against abusers that has halted the careers of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons and many other powerful men, cracks in the R. Kelly veneer are beginning to show.
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