R&B singer R Kelly accused of abusing, controlling woman in a 'cult'
R&B singer R Kelly is holding women against their will in a "cult", police have been told.
Three women claim abusive behaviour by the singer, whose lawyers deny the allegations.
Kelly, 50, has been dogged by accusations of sexual impropriety but never convicted.
An investigation by BuzzFeed News suggests five women were living in Kelly's Georgia guest house or his Chicago recording studio in the northern summer of 2016.
Three former members of Kelly's inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details of their time with the singer.
Mack, Jones, and McGee said Kelly calls women who live with him his "babies", and they have to call him "Daddy". They have to ask Kelly for permission to leave the studio or their rooms in a guest house Kelly rents near his own rented mansion in suburban Atlanta.
"A black SUV with a burly driver behind the wheel is almost always parked outside both locations," the report said. "Kelly confiscates the women's cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission. Kelly films his sexual activities, McGee and Jones said, and shows the videos to men in his circle," BuzzFeed News reported.
"If the women break any of Kelly's rules, Mack and Jones said, he punishes them physically and verbally... McGee said she never saw Kelly hit anybody, but also said he was running a 'cult' and manipulated her emotionally and sexually."
The report said police in Illinois and Georgia had made welfare checks in the past year but those had not led to any charges. One of the women - an aspiring singer from Georgia - told police she was "fine and did not want to be bothered".
BuzzFeed News said the aspiring singer's parents were in a desperate fight to bring their children home. The mother had closed her businesses, become a relentless amateur detective, and shared her findings in the FBI and police in two states.
The last time she saw her daughter was on December 1, 2016. "It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible," the mother said. "I hugged her and hugged her. But she just kept saying she's in love and [Kelly] is the one who cares for her."
Linda Mensch, a civil lawyer in Chicago who represents Kelly, was asked about on-the-record allegations that Kelly physically and mentally abused women for the report.
"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," Mensch wrote in an email. "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."
In 2008 Kelly was acquitted by a Chicago jury of 14 counts relating to child pornography.