For 25 years, my music playlist has stayed the same. Obviously, we have evolved from cassette tapes and CDs. And thankfully now I don’t have to hold the play and record buttons down on my boombox and wait for the DJ to stop talking so I can make a mixtape. But for more than two decades I have been loyal to my favorite artists: Tupac, Biggie & R. Kelly.

r kelly

Sunday night I sat at my kitchen table with a glass of wine in near tears as I deleted every single R. Kelly song on my playlist. The song that reminded me of the year I got my driver’s license. The song I blared out of my stereo in my dorm room freshman year. The song I sobbed to after a break-up. The song that had me on the dance floor when I turned 21. The song I turned to when I was feeling spiritual. Every song he wrote that would instantly take me back to a moment in my life.  For years, I listened to music that was made by an absolute monster…and quite honestly, it was hard for me to digest.

The Lifetime Channel recently aired a six-part series called “Surviving R. Kelly.” It detailed 30 years of abuse young girls and women suffered…abuse inflicted by one of the greatest entertainers of my generation.  And when I say young girls, I mean young. As young as 12.

Look, I remember back in the day when the allegations first came to light. My ignorant response was: “Really? That doesn’t sound right. He wouldn’t do that…he doesn’t need to do that. He’s a successful and good-looking guy…people are just after his money.”

Sadly, too may people shared that mindset for too many years.  But after watching six-hours of emotional confessions…I was sick to my stomach that I let someone’s talent overshadow their true character. I believed the image that was portrayed…and I have never been more wrong.

When something controversial like “Surviving R. Kelly” airs, social media becomes a hot-bed of couch critics. It was the responses that were leaving me stunned and speechless:

“Those girls were fast…did you see how they were dressed?”

“They knew what they were getting into.”

“Why would they ever talk to an older guy?”

“Where were the parents?”

“Where’s the proof?”

No. No. No.

We’re not going to put sexual abuse on a child.

We’re not going to put sexual assault on a woman.

Let me say it again louder for the people in the back: WE ARE NOT GOING TO PUT SEXUAL ABUSE ON A CHILD. WE ARE NOT GOING TO PUT SEXUAL ASSAULT ON A WOMAN.

By the way you want proof? He recorded every interaction. There are VIDEOS. Thousands of them. Videos of him having sex with young girls.

There is something TERRIBLY WRONG with our society when, at the time, a 37-year-old man is hanging out by a high school at 3pm to “pick up” girls.  Other adults thought it was odd at the time, but hey, he was famous. “It’s kinda cool to see him around.” Gross.

This same man would have his bodyguards hand-pick YOUNG GIRLS out of the audience at  his concerts. Those girls would be escorted backstage…then to his tour bus…then to his home.

His assistants and managers would funnel YOUNG GIRLS in and out of his home and studio at all hours of the day and night. YOUNG GIRLS.

R. Kelly is a PREDATOR and his fame, money and power made him unstoppable. For decades, he groomed star-struck young girls and abused them over and over.

The circle of people around him are just as guilty as he is. They continued to make the sick sexual abuse possible. But hey – he was the one signing the checks so let’s turn a blind-eye. They all knew what was happening. All of them.

As a former journalist, I should probably use words like “allegedly” or “reportedly” throughout this. After all, he hasn’t been convicted of anything. In 2002 he was found not guilty of child pornography charges…even though a video tape CLEARLY showed him and a very young girl. What he did on the tape is indescribable and beyond disgusting.

But watch the series…listen to the stories…and you’ll know. You will realize there is only one liar and that is the PREDATOR.

I stand with the victims. The countless victims. I’m tired of people constantly questioning and belittling the victims.

Hold the PREDATOR accountable.

There’s a nationwide, grassroots movement called #MuteRKelly that is trying to end his music career. That means no more concerts…no more streaming music…no more songs over the airwaves.

It’s a fantastic movement but we are missing the bigger picture…we need to INDICT ROBERT KELLY. He is a criminal.

So why should we care right? We don’t know R. Kelly…we have no connection to any of these victims, right? Wrong. EVERY child is our child. EVERY child needs our voice. Because let’s break it down, before the age of 18, one in five children will become the victim of sexual abuse. Think about that the next time you son or daughter has friends over. One in five.

If we allow him to get away with years of sexual abuse, what message are we sending our children?

Stop taking a predator’s word over a child’s.