If R Kelly behaves like this in an interview, imagine what he's like behind closed doors.

It takes a particular kind of man to do what R Kelly did to Gayle King during an interview on CBS.

A single shot, taken in a fraction of a second, captures 52-year-old Kelly standing over 64-year-old King, his stance not defensive but offensive. He holds a single finger not far from King’s head, demanding she, and all the viewers at home, believe him. His mouth is open in such a way that we know his voice is raised. Kelly is not telling us he is innocent. He is shouting it.

Clips from the interview place this photograph in context.

Kelly beats his chest in fury. His hands are held in tight fists. He throws them around erratically, as though he doesn’t entirely have control over them. Kelly shouts profanities, edging closer to King, whose face remains composed and unaffected.

Watch the trailer for Gayle King’s interview with R Kelly on CBS. Post continues. 

When he returns to his seat, Kelly looks down the barrel of the camera and urges us to: “Use [our] common sense”.

Here’s what our common sense tells us.

It tells us that when Kelly was 27, he married a 15-year-old girl.

It tells us that a few years later, an ex-girlfriend sued him for the “personal injuries and emotional distress” she suffered throughout their three-year relationship. She was also 15 years old when they began having sex. The case was settled out of court.

It tells us that in 2001, a 17-year-old former intern of Kelly said he induced her into an “indecent sexual relationship”.

She says she was “treated as his personal sex object… he often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go,” she said at the time. The case was settled out of court.


It tells us that one year later Kelly was sued for the third and fourth time. A Chicago woman claimed he had impregnated her when she was underage, and then forced her to have an abortion.

The second woman alleged that Kelly videotaped them having sex without her knowledge, and the recording was then widely circulated.

It tells us that in the same year, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography. The footage involved intercourse, oral sex and urination. He was ultimately found not guilty, because there was no definitive ‘proof’ that the girl on tape was a minor.

It tells us that over the next two years, Kelly was charged with another 12 counts of making child pornography. The charges were dropped, on the grounds that the police ‘lacked sufficient evidence’ to justify a search.

It tells us that in 2017, six women accused R Kelly of running a ‘sex cult’. An article by Buzzfeed, alleged that Kelly seduced young women, before dictating, “what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”

It tells us that not long after, another woman came forward, breaking a non-disclosure agreement, and said Kelly had sex with her while she was underage. Another woman claimed Kelly starved and physically abused her.

It tells us that Kelly, just last month, was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Three of the women were underage at the times they allege the abuse took place.

“Common sense” is not a defence Kelly is entitled to use.

Common sense tells us that a man who gets this angry, who will intimidate and escalate a situation physically, before a powerful and composed woman while on national television, can only be worse in private.

It tells us to trust our eyes. The man in this picture is not one who respects women.

But most of all it tells us to trust our ears.

The voices of dozens of women are louder, much louder, than a single man attempting to shout over them.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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