New York (AFP) – R. Kelly’s management has lashed out at a campaign for the music business to dump him over his alleged treatment of women and girls, denouncing a “public lynching.”
The R&B singer, best known for his ballad “I Believe I Can Fly,” supports the Time’s Up movement for gender equality, his management said, suggesting that his eyebrow-raising relationships have been consensual.
“We fully support the rights of women to be empowered and make their own choices,” his management said in a statement late Monday.
“Since America was born, black men and women have been lynched for having sex or being accused of it.
“We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture,” it said.
The Women of Color division of the Time’s Up movement had on Monday called on Kelly’s record label, streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music and concert venues to drop the 51-year-old star.
The group said it hoped to build on momentum after the conviction last week of comedian Bill Cosby to build a world “in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior.”
Singer and activist John Legend quickly backed the #MuteRKelly campaign, although entertainment companies have yet to comment.
Kelly was acquitted in 2008 of charges of child pornography after a video allegedly showed him in sexual acts with an underage girl.
Last month, a woman filed a complaint with police in Dallas alleging that Kelly knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease during a relationship that began when she was 19.
And last year, BuzzFeed News reported that Kelly was holding six women in virtual slavery with power over their clothing, diet and sexual encounters. He has denied all the allegations.