LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – (Strong language in paragraph 8.)
FILE PHOTO: R. Kelly leaves Cook County jail in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Grammy-winning R&B singer R. Kelly on Tuesday denied sexual abuse charges against him and broke into tears while saying he was fighting for his life, according to interview excerpts released by CBS television.
Kelly, 52, pleaded not guilty in February to charges that he sexually assaulted three teenage girls and a woman in alleged incidents dating back to 1998, weeks after a Lifetime television documentary leveled new accusations against him.
In his first interview since the indictment, “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King asked Kelly about allegations that he had sex with women under 18 and that he was physically and verbally abusive.
“Not true,” the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer responded in a clip of the interview played on the CBS Evening News. CBS also provided a transcript of the excerpts from the interview.
King, who spoke to Kelly in Chicago, his hometown, then asked if he had held anyone against his will. “I don’t need to. Why would I?” he said.
The singer grew angry and emotional as the interview went on, turning to make his argument directly to the camera. “That’s stupid. Use your common sense,” he said.
“Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me,” Kelly added. “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.”
Pounding his chest for emphasis, Kelly shouted, “I didn’t do this stuff!” His voice cracked and he broke into tears, saying: “This is not me! I’m fighting for my f*cking life!” The excerpt broadcast by CBS bleeped out the expletive while the transcript used the asterisk.
Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, could face up to seven years in prison for each of the 10 counts if convicted.
CBS said it will air additional footage from the interview on “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday and Thursday.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler