Disgraced R. Kelly preyed on underage girls

The cover of Soulless: The Case Against R Kelly.

What you need to know:

  • During house parties, R. Kelly would defile multiple underage girls.
  • On August 31, 1994, R. Kelly married Aaliyah at the Sheraton Gateway Suites after falsifying her birth documents.

In 1996, a civil lawsuit was belatedly filed by Tiffany Hawkins against the paedophilic misdeeds of Robert Sylvester Kelly (R. Kelly).

Tiffany sought $10 million in damages. Her filings included a list of 22 witnesses ready to testify, including R&B sensation Aaliyah Dana Haughton and R. Kelly's brother Carey Kelly.

Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly covers two decades of intensive investigative reporting by journalist Jim Derogatis. It's an overwhelming excruciation of sexual misconduct inflicted on dozens of underage black girls for 30 years.

In 1991, 15-year-old Kenwood Academy aspiring musician, Tiffany Hawkins, met R. Kelly. She performed background vocals in his debut album, Born into the 90s at the infamous Chicago Recording Company (CRC) studios.

The studios were notorious for R. Kelly's child sex offences on countless young girls. Tiffany initially began a professional acquaintance with R. Kelly. He requested her to invite her friends to his house.

During the house parties, R. Kelly would defile multiple underage girls and make Tiffany watch. As the weeks proceeded, he had her partake in the orgies with some of her friends.

Finally, it was just the two of them engaging in intimacy. He then asked her to move in with him and prevented her friends from visiting. She ascertained she was pregnant, and he subsequently forced her to abort.

Shortly after R. Kelly met Tiffany, his manager Barry Hankerson, the ex-husband of Motown superstar Gladys Knight, introduced R. Kelly to his next protégé. His 12-year-old niece Aliyaah Dana Haughton, a high school student from Detroit Michigan.

R. Kelly, who was 27 then, wrote, arranged and produced Aliyaah's definitive debut album Ageain't nothing but a number, which was released in May 1994, five months after Aliyaah's 15th birthday.

Tiffany made cameo appearances in her album and earned a meagre $1,500 cheque, as R. Kelly's sexual exploitation of Aliyaah commenced. He began videotaping his lewd acts with Aaliyah.

On August 31, 1994, R. Kelly married Aaliyah at the Sheraton Gateway Suites after falsifying her birth documents, changing her age from 15 to 18. The illegal marriage was shortly annulled by Aaliyah’s family.

R. Kelly paid Aaliyah’s parents Michael and Diane Haughton $3 million, on September 29, 1994, for their silence. His lawyers forced the signing of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) by Aliyaah and her family, to cover his tracks. It kept the illegal sexual contact silent, and allowed the continuation of his exploitation of minors.

Sexual contact between R. Kelly and Tiffany lasted three years, ending in October 1994. Tiffany's civil case ended with a one-page notice filed on January 23, 1998, in an out-of-court settlement.

She was paid $250,000, a fortieth of what she'd filed, to drop the suit, leading to the signing of another NDA. Tiffany was devastated by mental effects of R. Kelly's transgressions.

She attempted suicide and spent time at Advocate Trinity Hospital on the South Side of Chicago.

R. Kelly's sexual exploitation was persistent, creating a pattern of indifferent predatory behaviour and cash payoffs. His fourth record was a double-CD album, simply titled R. It sold over eight million copies and he had hit singles You're my Angel with Celine Dion, the famous I believe I can fly and When a Woman's Fed Up with R&B sensation Sparkle.

Sparkle met R. Kelly in 1989 and sang background vocals in Aaliyah’s debut album, together with Tiffany. In 1998, R. Kelly produced Sparkle's self-titled album. She introduced him to her brother-in-law, Greg Landfair, who played bass guitar in some of his songs. Greg's wife Valerie was given a job as an office assistant for R. Kelly.

Sparkle later introduced R. Kelly to her talented 12-year-old niece Reshona Landfair, Greg and Valerie's daughter. Sparkle was hoped R. Kelly would enhance her rap career.

R. Kelly bought Reshona a PT Cruiser, defiled her and filmed his lewd acts. The video showed him urinating on Reshona, at the Baptist Church on George Street and his house in Olympia Fields, Chicago.

On January 4, 2001, the tape was anonymously sent to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Illinois Division of Children and Family Services investigated Reshona's parents. They disturbingly discovered Rashona's defilement was occurring with her parents' full knowledge and consent.

On December 16, 2001, Sparkle called the Sun-Times to confirm her niece's identity on the tape and to implicate R. Kelly.

In Chicago's black suburbs of Maywood, Bellwood and the vast Olympia Fields, R. Kelly is profoundly despised for preying on and sexually abusing dozens of underage girls from numerous households and infecting them with Herpes Simplex 2.

Most of his victims fell pregnant and he violently forced them into abortion at the Concord Medical Group and Family Planning Associates clinic on West Washington Street. Reshona evidently testified in court on August 19, 2022.

R. Kelly was eventually sentenced to 30 years in prison on September 14, 2022, having been convicted of 21 counts of child trafficking and three counts of production of child pornography.

Jeff Anthony is a novelist, a Big Brother Africa 2 Kenyan representative and founder of Jeff's Fitness Centre @jeffbigbrother