By VICTORIA ALBERT, CBS News
A music critic who has spent years covering the alleged abuses of R. Kelly said Tuesday that “every system in Chicago has failed” the “dozens of young black women” who said they were victimized by the singer.
Nearly 20 years ago, Jim DeRogatis helped break the first story with allegations against Kelly. In his new book, “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly,” he says he knows of 48 women who were allegedly abused by the singer over 30 years.
DeRogatis joined “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to discuss the allegations. Until recent months, he said, only a few people were looking into the claims. “Everybody wanted to dismiss these charges because — and I’m only echoing what dozens of young black girls have told me for 19 years — nobody matters less in our society than young black girls,” DeRogatis said.
DeRogatis said he first became aware of allegations against the singer when he received a fax in 2000, around the time of Thanksgiving. He originally threw it on the slush pile of hate mail he received for writing about hip-hop, he said, “but there was a tone in that fax” that made it stand out.
“‘Mr. DeRogatis, I’m writing to you hoping that you can help,'” he recalled the fax as saying. “‘Robert has a problem. His problem is young girls.'”
He added that the fax described the case of Tiffany Hawkins, who “filed a lawsuit for having sexual contact with Kelly at age 15” after he allegedly picked her up from choir class.
DeRogatis estimates that “thousands” of people were aware of or witnessed the “damage” Kelly allegedly caused in the nearly 20 years that followed.
“It sounds like hyperbole when I say this, Gayle, but if you go to Chicago on the south and west side and talk to two — if you talk to three black women, two will have stories,” he told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King. “Not that they have been — but them or their sister or their aunt or their cousin or their mom has been at Kenwood Academy or the Evergreen Plaza shopping mall, or the rock n’ roll McDonald’s when Kelly was cruising.”
Kelly is due back in court Thursday to face serious charges: 11 new counts of sexual assault and abuse, all of which he has denied.
In an exclusive interview with Gayle King in March, Kelly insisted he’s done nothing wrong.
Kelly’s attorney told CBS News, “I have not read [DeRogatis’] book, nor do I care what he says. We will worry about the court and not Mr. DeRogatis.”
When asked about the attorney’s claims that there’s an agenda skewing his reporting, DeRogatis replied, “I’ve sat with 48 women who have done the most difficult thing a woman can do, to tear out her soul and talk about the sexual assault to a stranger and put their name on it and go public and then be vilified as a liar, a gold digger, you know, for that. That is courage. This book is about the girls. This book is not about this man.”
DeRogatis believes that when Kelly goes to court Thursday, the Illinois case will be “torn apart, because it’s about three victims who are cooperating, and one who isn’t.” But he thinks federal indictments are coming in about a month.
“A pattern of 30 years of sex trafficking, obstruction of justice, tax evasion — the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS is after him, and they have interviewed, Gayle, everybody in my book.”