Local experts react to R. Kelly’s explosive interview

Posted at 10:32 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 23:46:22-05

NORFOLK, Va. - People in Hampton Roads are weighing in on the charges against 52-year-old singer R. Kelly.

In an explosive interview with CBS This Morning's Gayle King, R. Kelly denied having sexual relations with underage girls. He said the accusations are ruining his life.

While he stood firm that he's innocent, people in Hampton Roads have other opinions.

"[There were] too many witnesses and victims for me to even want to second guess that I believed him or not. I mean, of course I don't believe anything he's doing," Norfolk State University grad student Robyn Griffin said.

Kelly is facing multiple counts of sexual abuse. It's reported the events related to his charges date back as far as 1998.

News 3 wanted to know how this type of abuse could have spanned multiple years. We sat down with the director of the counseling center at Norfolk State University, Vanessa Jenkins Hightower.

She said many times people stay with their abuser because of fear.

"Fear can really make you stay with someone because they know - they know what might happen if they leave."

King also sat down with Kelly's live-in girlfriends, who are both under 24 years old.

They defended the singer and said they are in love and happy, but Griffin feels like their reactions were "rehearsed."

Dr. Jenkins didn't want to speak specifically about Kelly's case, but said that it could be an example of brainwashing.

"What [predators are doing] in brainwashing is really taking all your values and beliefs away from you and they start getting you to trust them," she said.

She said this happens frequently in domestic and sexually abusive relationships. Jenkins said by the time victims realize what's happening to them, they're already in too deep emotionally.

"So many people will say, 'Why do they stay so long? Why do they stay so long?' But they trust that person and there's a part of them that they're connected to and it's like a poison," Jenkins told News 3's Erin Miller.

While the details of Kelly's actions are troubling, it's sparking change across the country.

Thousands of women are finding the courage to speak up and share their story of abuse.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources available. Here are a few:

Click here for our full coverage on the R. Kelly allegations.