R Kelly has tearfully and angrily denied allegations of sexual abuse in the first interview since his arrest last month.
“I didn’t do this stuff. This is not me,” he told CBS This Morning, adding that he is “fighting for my life”.
Chicago prosecutors have charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, involving four alleged victims, three of whom were minors.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is currently out on bail.
If convicted, he faces three to seven years in prison for each crime.
The case follows a 2002 trial, in which Kelly faced 21 counts of child pornography, stemming from a sex tape with a girl who was alleged to be underage.
The jury eventually concluded they could not prove the girl on the tape was a minor and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.
Speaking to CBS news reporter Gayle King, Kelly said the earlier trial was being used to give the latest accusations credence.
“They’re going back to the past and they’re trying to add all of this stuff now to that, to make all of the stuff that’s going on now feel real to people,” he said, in a clip released ahead of the full interview.
“But the past is relevant with you with underage girls,” Gayle replied.
“Absolutely no it’s not,” Kelly protested. “Because, for one I beat my case. You can’t double jeopardy me like that. When you beat your case, you beat your case”.
The star also denied accusations, raised in the recent documentary Surviving R Kelly, that he held women against their will, confiscating their phones, restricting their food, and denying them access to their families.
Becoming emotional, he asked King: “How stupid would it be for R Kelly, with all I’ve been through to hold somebody? How stupid would I be to do that?”
“Use your common sense,” he continued, raising his voice and turning to address the camera.
“Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to; love me if you want. But just use your common sense.”
“How stupid would it be for me with my crazy past and what I’ve been through [to say], ‘Oh right now, I just think I need to be a monster and hold girls against their will and chain them up in my basement?”
“Quit playing, quit playing,” he said, becoming tearful. “This is not me.”
At this point, Kelly stood up, pounding his fist and beating his chest as he declared: “Are you all trying to kill me?”
‘Severe mental abuse’
King spoke to the singer for 80 minutes on Tuesday, 5 March. CBS is broadcasting excerpts on Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Among the notable moments so far:
- Kelly admits he has done “lots of things wrong when it comes to women” but “I apologised in those relationships at the time”.
- He believes it has become too easy to accuse celebrities of misconduct. “All you have to do is push a button on your phone.”
- He says his own experience of sexual abuse as a child has not influenced his behaviour as an adult.
- “I need help,” the star tells King. “I need somebody to help me not have a big heart, because my heart is so big. People betray me, and I keep forgiving them.”
Speaking in the studio, King told her co-presenters: “I think he needs help. He became very emotional many, many times. I thought, in some ways, we were seeing a breakdown right in front of our eyes.”
“He does think the world is out to get him and everyone is lying,” she added.
King has also interviewed two women, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, who are currently in a relationship with Kelly.
That segment will be shown on Friday – but a preview clip showed Clary, who is 21, breaking down in tears as she defended the star.
“I’m crying because you guys don’t know the truth,” she said. “This is all lies for money. If you can’t see that, you’re ignorant and you’re stupid.”
Ahead of the broadcast, Clary’s parents, who says Kelly is holding their daughter against her will, issued a statement condemning the star.
“We love our daughter Azriel very much and we miss her,” said Alice and Angelo Clary.
“Azriel suffered severe mental abuse at the hands of R Kelly for years. She’s also likely suffering from symptoms similar to those found with Stockholm Syndrome.
“R Kelly is a liar, manipulator and sociopath who must be brought to justice for his decades of sexual assaults on underage girls. All these victims and their parents cannot be lying.”