R Kelly’s ex-wife of 13 years says her heart ‘breaks as a mother because this is now my children’s legacy’ as she discusses her ‘life of constant fear’ during their marriage
R Kelly‘s ex-wife has spoken of her heartbreak for her children after the disgraced singer was convicted of multiple sex trafficking charges on Monday.
The R&B star, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, was found guilty of all nine counts in a Brooklyn federal court, including racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor, and other charges.
‘I feel that my heart is in two places,’ Drea Kelly told UK-based ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday following the verdict last night.
‘My heart definitely goes out to the survivors and the courage that it takes to to come forward and tell the story, but my heart breaks as a mother because this is now the legacy that my children will have to deal with and their children’s children.
‘At the end of the day, you cannot walk away from your blood line,’ she explained. ‘I have the ability to separate and distance myself from it, but his blood runs through my children’s veins and it’s part of their DNA and they couldn’t escape it even if they wanted to. So it’s very difficult for me to sit in that position.’
The 54-year-old Kelly faces up to 100 years in prison – 20 years for racketeering, 10 for each of the sex trafficking convictions.
Sentencing is expected to take place on May 4, 2022.
‘I can only speak of my journey as his ex wife and a survivor and an advocate, but I think that goes for any child,’ Drea Kelly told ITV.
R Kelly’s ex-wife has spoken of her heartbreak for her children after the disgraced singer was convicted of multiple sex trafficking charges on Monday
R. Kelly (seen above in a court sketch from Monday while listening to the verdict at Brooklyn federal court), the disgraced R&B singer, was convicted of sex trafficking charges. He faces decades in prison
‘It doesn’t matter if your parents have a problem with drug addiction – you are still going to love them because they are a part of your DNA, you share blood with them.
‘I also support my children in whatever they feel because at the end of the day, whether he ever sold another song, found guilty or not guilty, what is true and what will always be true is that it’s their father, so they have the right to feel whatever they feel,’ she added.
Kelly has remained in custody after being denied bail in his New York City case in October 2019, and after prosecutors accused the R&B singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls for sex.
Drea – full name Andrea Danyell Lee – married R Kelly in 1996 aged 22. Before their marriage, she was a backup danger for the singer.
The pair share three children together – daughters Joann and Jaah, and son Robert Jr – born in 1998, 2000 and 2002 respectively.
But in September 2005 after almost a decade of marriage, Drea filed a restraining order against Kelly when she first told him she wanted a divorce, and she filed for a divorce in 2006 which was finalized three years later in 2009.
R. Kelly (pictured in 2019) was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday during his sex trafficking trial where prosecutors accused the R&B singer of exploiting his stardom over a quarter-century to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex
Jerhonda Johnson Pace (seen above in Chicago in February 2019), 28, celebrated news of the verdict against R Kelly on Monday. She was one of the singer’s accusers
‘It’s a life of constant fear and if anyone has done their research and I hope more journalists will, if you decide to interview more victims and survivors, knowing the cycles of abuse, it’s called walking on eggshells, that whats it means,’ she told ITV.
‘That is the term that is used when you never know what you’re going to get. Like I said in the interview before, having the milk too cold and the one time it’s not cold enough.’
In 2018, Drea told The View that her ex-husband had both physically and mentally abused while they were married.
She told the show that at her lowest points, the abuse became so bad that she contemplated suicide, and detailed an incident in which Kelly assaulted her in the back of his Hummer.
In another incident, she said he ‘hogtied’ her in their bed, raped her and then fell asleep without untying her.
As a result of the abuse, she said she suffers from PTSD, and said that her motive of speaking out was to help other victims of domestic violence.
‘I can only talk about my journey and what I went through, what I’ve heard speaks very true to my life – it is parallel to my life and there is no way for anybody else to know it, because I haven’t shared it with anyone unless they’ve been through it themselves,’ she told ITV on Tuesday of her life with Kelly.
‘It’s constant fear, the imitation, never knowing which version of him you’re going to get, it’s very much Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
‘Again, I’m not here to speak to the details of it, I am here to speak to the strength that it took for those people to come forward and tell their stories and stand in their truth knowing that they had the whole world against them because they did the same thing to me,’ she said.
‘My grandmother used to have a saying, “Everybody’s not lying to you, it’s impossible, over twenty to thirty years, thirty different people to all have the same journey and story and to have survived the same thing, it would all be a lie.”‘
A mixture of relief and disbelief greeted the guilty verdict on Monday in the trial of R. Kelly, who becomes the most high-profile musician brought down in the #MeToo era but whose music remains popular on streaming services.
‘Today my voice was heard,’ wrote Jerhonda Pace on Instagram, one of the women who testified at his more than five-week trial.
Kelly’s (pictured in court on September 27 as the jury foreman reads the guilty verdict) guilty verdict follows 21 days of evidence including 50 witnesses and hours of searing testimony featuring accusations of rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography
Heavily pregnant R Kelly accuser Jerhonda Pace broke down in tears in court on August 19 as she read out a passage from her own 2010 journal, detailing how the R&B star allegedly slapped her, spat in her face and choked her
Jurors in R Kelly’s trial heard testimony from the woman who said the R&B star lured her to his mansion when she was a 16-year-old virgin, made her call him ‘daddy’ and choked her until she passed out on day two of his federal sex abuse trial in New York. R Kelly left and Jerhonda Pace right
‘For years, I was trolled for speaking out about the abuse that I suffered at the hands of that predator. People called me a liar and said I had no proof. Some even said I was speaking out for money. Speaking out about abuse is not easy, especially when your abuser is high-profile,’ Pace wrote.
Pace was also one of several women who spoke in detail in a harrowing 2019 Lifetime documentary, ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ about the mental and sexual abuse they suffered from the singer. The documentary was the catalyst in the opening of an investigation that led to criminal charges against the singer in Chicago and New York.
Dream Hampton, the executive producer of the documentary, said on Twitter on Monday that she was ‘grateful to the survivors. The ones who talked and the ones who didn’t.’
The MuteRKelly campaign, founded by two Black women in 2017 to try to remove the singer’s music from the air waves, said on Twitter that it hoped the verdict ‘brings some sense of justice to the brave survivors who came forward.’
While Kelly’s music has largely disappeared from radio, it is still available on streaming platforms. His hit record ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ was for years a popular choice at graduation ceremonies.
His supporters include a hardcore group of fans, derisively dubbed the ‘peehive’ on social media, who showed their dismay outside the court in Brooklyn and under the Twitter hashtag #FreeRKelly.
Some in Brooklyn cried as the verdict was read and one supporter defiantly played his song ‘Shut Up.’
‘They don’t wanna see a Black man winning,’ wrote a poster on Twitter called Zapac Zhakur under the hashtag #FreeRKelly.
A supporter of R. Kelly protests outside during a break at the Brooklyn Federal Court House on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in New York
Pictured: A supporter of R Kelly wears a ‘free R Kelly’ mask outside Brooklyn Federal Court House on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in New York
Kelly, now 54, was dropped by his record company RCA in early 2019, shortly after the Lifetime documentary was aired.
After the documentary was broadcast, some of the musicians who had previously collaborated with him, including Lady Gaga, Celine Dion and Chance the Rapper, issued apologies or asked for those recordings to be taken down from streaming services.
But most of his songs and albums are still available for streaming and the RKelly TV YouTube channel has 3.5 million subscribers.
Data from music tracking service MRC showed that streams had remained largely steady between 2017 and 2021, at about 5 million to 6 million a week.
Music publication Billboard reported last month that Kelly, whose last album was released in 2016, was trying to sell the rights to his back catalog but had yet to find a buyer.
Merck Mercuriadis, whose Hipgnosis Songs Fund has recently bought the rights to songs from the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, said he was not interested.
‘We have no interest in the R Kelly catalog. There is a strong principle here of supporting the feelings and beliefs of our songwriting community – both women and men – that is more important than economic opportunity,’ Mercuriadis said in a statement on Monday.