Inside R. Kelly’s ‘Sex Cult’

Starved, beaten, and forced to have sex with other women, Kitti Jones still couldn’t see a way to leaving R. Kelly. In a shocking Rolling Stone exposé, she tells how and why.

Mario Anzuoni

Rolling Stone has published an extraordinary account of life in R. Kelly’s “sex cult,” based on an extensive interview with Kitti Jones, a radio presenter and DJ who dated the singer for a period of two years from 2011.

In the piece, Jones alleges that she was beaten, starved, and forced to have sex with other women while living in the singer’s recording studio compound.

Kelly sought to control all elements of her life, Jones alleges, from her choice of clothing to when she was allowed to use the toilet; he monitored her movements on security cameras, periodically confiscated her phone, and forbade her from making eye contact with other men.

Kelly denies the allegations.

Jones’s age is not specified in the piece, however it is believed she was in her twenties when she first met Kelly in June 2011, when her Dallas radio station The Beat organized an afterparty for Kelly when he played the city.

She was a divorcee, with a son living in Europe with her ex-husband, and, although used to being around celebrities, she said she was still starstruck by Kelly, whom she had idolized since she was a teen in “the early 1990s.”

Kelly’s alleged history of manipulating young women was already a matter of public record; in 1994, the singer, then 27, married 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1996, Kelly was sued for $10 million by aspiring vocalist Tiffany Hawkins, who claimed that she first began having sex with Kelly at age 15 (the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum in 1998). And in February 2002, Jim DeRogatis, a reporter and music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, anonymously received a now-infamous 26-minute video tape allegedly showing Kelly telling a girl to call him “Daddy” and then urinating in her mouth.

When the case came to court, Kelly was found not guilty after jurors said they could not verify the identity of the girl.

However Jones was bowled over after Kelly gave her his phone number at the Dallas afterparty and they began to correspond.   

In Kelly’s first text, it is alleged, he ordered her to always call him “Daddy” —never Rob.

In September, after a few hotel meetings with Kelly, Jones packed up her job and moved to Chicago to be with him full-time.

Immediately, according to Rolling Stone, “Kelly began governing nearly every detail of her life, starting with the requirement that she wear baggy sweatpants whenever she went out and text near-constant updates on her whereabouts. (A source who knew Kelly confirmed the singer’s demands on Jones to Rolling Stone.) Jones says she was forced to text either the singer or one of his employees for even the slightest request. (Sample text message: “Daddy, I need to go to the restroom.”)

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Jones was told she had to “stand up and greet daddy” every time he walked in the room.

In November 2011, Jones says she saw the notorious bootleg video on a trip home and challenged Kelly about it over the phone. Next time he saw her, Jones claims, Kelly kicked her multiple times and delivered a series of open-handed slaps to her face.

Kelly took Jones on tour with him and included her in a bizarre stage skit in which two men dressed in white lab coats make her sign a waiver and chain her arms inside a white cage. Kelly enters, as a white sheet is draped over the cage, and Kelly is shown simulating oral sex on Jones.

Jones had initially been living at Kelly’s apartment in Trump Tower but was subsequently moved to a new apartment at Kelly’s recording studio, where she was housed alongside two of his other girlfriends.

It was the most horrible thing. People look at it and go, 'Oh, you're grown.' No. You have to actually be there to know exactly what it felt like for a person to overpower you and make you feel like there's nothing for you outside of him.
Kitti Jones on why she didn't leave R. Kelly sooner

The girls had to contact Kelly or one of his employees before leaving their room as part of an apparent effort to ensure none of them knew the others were living there. Punishments for attempting to leave for any reason without permission were allegedly commonplace, and Jones said Kelly would often take away her phone as punishment.

Jones also alleged that Kelly used starvation as punishment, and she claims she was once deprived of food for more than two days. Former colleagues noticed her drastic weight loss when they met up.

In March 2013, Jones alleges, another one of Kelly’s girlfriends was brought, naked, into her room. Kelly ordered her to crawl toward Jones and perform oral sex on her.

“He told me, ‘I raised her. I’ve trained this bitch. This is my pet,’” Rolling Stone quotes Jones as saying.

From then on, Jones claims, Kelly would force her to have sex with other women regularly.

“You can’t say no because you’re going to get punished,” she is quoted as saying. “You just become numb to what’s happening. It’s so traumatic the things that he makes you do to other people and to him.”

“He videotapes everything that he does, and sometimes he’ll just make you watch what he’s done to other girls or girls that he had be together,” she adds. “He would masturbate to that and then have you give him oral sex while he’s watching what he did with somebody else on his iPad.”

In one particularly graphic example, Jones claims she witnessed Kelly urinating on two women while she and the women were in the middle of a sex act with the singer. “It was just a game for him,” she says. “He just went back and forth [on them] when he was peeing and told [another girlfriend] to clean it up afterwards. That was the worst that I’ve ever seen.”

Attempting to explain why she continued to stay in the relationship, despite being able to physically leave, Jones says: “It was the most horrible thing. People look at it and go, ‘Oh, you’re grown.’ No. You have to actually be there to know exactly what it felt like for a person to overpower you and make you feel like there's nothing for you outside of him.”

She didn’t leave Kelly until September 2013, using the pretext of a visit by her son to flee the compound.

Incredibly, Rolling Stone reports, “the two spoke occasionally and amicably following her departure.”

In November 2013, Jones alleges, Kelly went to Dallas for a show and met with Jones. She was hoping, she says, to get her possessions back.

But when she got on the tour bus, Jones alleges Kelly assaulted her. “I walked on the bus and I was like, ‘Hey Daddy!’ And I went to go hug him and he was like, ‘Bitch, I’m not giving you shit’ and he was just attacking me,” Jones told Rolling Stone. “I knew he wasn’t going to kill me, but it was a lot of force. I was thinking, ‘I’m not going to call the police.’ I just felt so stupid,” she says.

Jones says she has spent the past three and a half years in a tormented state. “I haven’t been living my life. I’ve just kind of been existing.”

Kelly called Jones in May of this year, Rolling Stone reports, the last time Jones says the two have communicated in any capacity.

“He said, ‘If someone came to you right now and asked them how I treated you, you can’t fucking say that I didn’t treat you good.... You had a roof over your head. You went shopping. You didn’t have to want for shit. So you can never go around and say that I was a monster like other people say that I am,’” Jones says. “I was so scared when he was talking to me. I was like, ‘This guy really thinks he did me a favor.’ He doesn’t look at the sexual stuff as scarring and damaging people.”

When Rolling Stone provided to Kelly a detailed list of allegations Jones made against him, Kelly categorically denied them. “Mr. Kelly is aware of the repeated and now evolving claims of [Ms. Jones],” Kelly’s representative wrote in a statement. “It is unfortunate that Ms. Jones, after public statements to the contrary, is now attempting to portray a relationship history with Mr. Kelly as anything other than consensual involvement between two adults. As stated previously, Mr. Kelly does not control the decision-making or force the actions of any other human being, including Ms. Jones, by her own admission. Any claim of wrongdoing of any kind or of mistreatment of any woman by him is false.”