Two women who say they had relationships with embattled R&B star R. Kelly spoke to the “Today” show’s Megyn Kelly on Tuesday about the alleged abuse they suffered while living with him and the ways he purportedly controlled their lives — claiming he dictated everything from what they wore to what they ate.
Kitti Jones and Asante McGee, who previously spoke with BuzzFeedand Rolling Stone, are among a wave of women who have accused the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer of sexual misconduct and coercion over nearly two decades. R. Kelly, who denies wrongdoing, has come under particular scrutiny in era of #MeToo.
Jones, a former DJ who quit her job to be with the singer and wrote a book about her time with him, says she spent two years in R. Kelly’s Chicago home. That was where Jones says she endured physical abuse, emotional manipulation and draconian rules.
“I had to wear sweatpants, I had to stand up when he would walk in a room,” Jones told Megyn Kelly, adding that she had to ask permission to use the bathroom and lost about 20 pounds because the singer controlled what and when she ate.
McGee, who made similar claims about harsh and domineering rules, told Megyn Kelly that the women who live with the singer are required to call him “Daddy.”
If you didn’t “you’d get in trouble,” McGee said.
R. Kelly has long been the subject of accusations and rumors that span the gamut from bizarre to potentially criminal. He reportedly wed the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah in 1994, when she was just 15 years old and widely described as his “protege.” The marriage was apparently later annulled.
He was later accused of child pornography after the circulation of a videotape that purportedly appeared to show him having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl. He was acquitted of all charges in 2008, and the legal drama seemed to have little effect on his commercial successes.
But even as R. Kelly continued to climb the Billboard charts and sell out giant stadiums across the country, he remained the focus of a flurry of allegations.
The veteran Chicago music reporter Jim DeRogatis brought a new round of scrutiny to the singer last summer with a series of investigative reports for BuzzFeed, including one article in which parents described R. Kelly’s home in the Atlanta suburbs as a “cult” where he held women against their will.
And this year, amid the continued torrent of sexual misconduct scandals in Hollywood and beyond, the Time’s Up campaign took aim at R. Kelly and social media activists rallied around the hashtag #MuteRKelly.
The organization’s Women of Color Committee, which includes TV auteur Shonda Rhimes and Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, has called for more investigations into the singer’s behavior.
In a statement sent to NBC News last week, R. Kelly’s management said in part, “We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target.”
“We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture,” the artist’s management went on to say.
Asked to respond on Tuesday to the suggestion that movement against R. Kelly was a “public lynching,” McGee said: “That’s bullcrap.”
This article originally appeared on nbcnews.com