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R. Kelly Gives First Post-Arrest Interview


R&B star R. Kelly is defending himself. He's given his first interview since being charged on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. He spoke with Gayle King of CBS News. NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas was watching, and she's on the line. Good morning.


INSKEEP: How on Earth does R. Kelly respond to these multiple charges of abusing women in a pattern that has been described as something like sex slavery?

TSIOULCAS: Well, it's really astonishing how he responded, from my perspective. You know, he's talked - the accusations are that he's abused these women, that he's currently living with two women whom their parents say he's keeping kind of in a cult. And the way he responded on camera was to rage and to scream and shriek and cry. And at one point, he's literally standing over the interviewer, Gayle King, in a really aggressive way.


R KELLY: (Shouting) And y'all trying to kill me. You're killing me, man. This is not about music. I'm trying to have a relationship with my kids, and I can't do it. Y'all just don't want to believe the truth.

INSKEEP: Was he like that for the whole interview?

TSIOULCAS: No, and Gayle King said that he sort of erupted several times very emotionally. They didn't show all of that, but it was an incredible moment. And at that point, a handler comes over and literally has to restrain him which - over his interviewer in which he's professing to be innocent and to treat women well.

INSKEEP: I also want to come back to the first words in that clip we heard - y'all trying to kill me. He's accusing other people of coming after him?

TSIOULCAS: He very much played - and Gayle King said this - very much played the victim. He essentially said that he was being persecuted and that all of the accusers are liars. For decades now, he has steadfastly said that he is innocent of every conceivable charge, and there have been many and many lawsuits against him. And this morning, he actually made an accusation of his own. He accused the parents of the two women with whom he's currently in a relationship who are said to be in this bizarre situation with him. He accused those parents of selling their daughters to him.


KELLY: What kind of father, what kind of mother, would sell their daughter to a man?

GAYLE KING: Who did that?

KELLY: How come it was OK for me to see them until they wasn't getting no money from it?

INSKEEP: I don't want to get hung up on the facts too much here, but if allegedly the daughters were sold to him, doesn't that mean that he bought?

TSIOULCAS: Yeah. He - you know, there is a disconnect there, for sure. And what he implied and what he said was that the parents introduced them as teenagers and that they were looking for money. And both parents, all sets of parents, have denied the accusations this morning.

INSKEEP: OK. So much more to discuss, but thanks for getting us started on this. Anastasia, thanks so much.

TSIOULCAS: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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