As the R. Kelly Saga continues, Gayle King sat down with the parents of the singer’s 21-year-old, live-in girlfriend Azriel Clary on CBS This Morning.
Angelo and Alice Clary told King that they think their daughter tricked them from the start of her relationship with Kelly, whom she met when she was 17.
The Clarys were featured in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary, where they discussed how their daughter met Kelly when she was an aspiring teenage singer. The couple, believing Kelly could help their daughter advance her career, allowed her to work with the singer, even after she snuck to meet with him behind their back.
They repeated the story about Azriel meeting with Kelly at a hotel without their permission- three days after their initial introduction. The Clarys told King they were so furious that they went knocking on hotel doors to find her and confront her and Kelly.
“What she said was, this was an audition,” Angelo said, recounting what Azriel said to them. “‘Why wouldn’t you trust me? Y’all would think I would put myself in a predicament and not call you all if something wasn’t right?'”
The Clarys said Azriel accused them of potentially messing up her chances of going after her dreams.
Though they wanted to fully support their daughter, whom they say had attempted suicide after a bad breakup before she met Kelly, Azriel gave them an ultimatum.
“She says, ‘If you don’t allow me to go, I will try to take my own life again, or I will run away,'” King asked.
“Uh huh,” the Clarys responded.
Though the couple said they were always worried about their daughter, they said they were often assured by several women in Kelly’s camp that Azriel was in “good hands.”
According to the couple, three months before Azriel’s 18th birthday they signed a handwritten letter giving their consent to allow her to travel with R. Kelly and his team on tour. The permission was granted for a woman named Valerie Marie Payton, whom they allege Kelly said was a representative of his music label, Sony. The Clarys believed the letter signified that Payton, a woman they admitted they never met, would be acting as a chaperone for their daughter while she was on the road.
King then pointed out the obvious. “The perception is that he preys on underage girls. Did that give you any kind of pause whatsoever?” King asked.
“That gave me pause. I mean, it gave me awareness. But you’re talking about a young lady that’s raised by two parents,” Angelo said.
“So you’re saying you trusted her,” King said, as Mr. Clary conceded.
“I didn’t trust him. What I trusted was I raised my child right. I trust my daughter was – will be honest with us. And this was strictly her music,” Angelo said. “R. Kelly had a platform as big as music can ever give somebody. I didn’t see the label stop supporting him.”
They said they also saw him working with other young women, so they believed things to be legit.
“I think in retrospect, many of these parents were too trusting,” said Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for the Clarys, who claimed Kelly used his celebrity status to manipulate the families and their children.
“If what you’re alleging is true, how is he able to get away with this for this for this period of time?” King asked.
“He surrounded himself with a bunch of people, a bunch of yes men and women, that would provide assurance and comfort to these parents relating to the fact that their daughters were going to be safe, that their daughters were gonna be looked after, that all of this was legit, that R. Kelly could be trusted,” Avenatti said.
“From people on the inside, some of the other victims that we talked to, they all said that– that the girls have to prove their loyalty to him by any means necessary,” Alice said.
“He’s the problem. He don’t have a sickness; he made a choice,” Angelo said, referring to Kelly.
“And this is what you guys fail to realize; it was not just R. Kelly that was doing this. It was– it was not only just him and his handlers and his cohorts and who– whatever you wanna call him,” Alice said. “It was also our daughter because you have to understand, she was lying and duping us and pulling the wool over our eyes from the beginning.”
“When you look back on it, what do you think were the mistakes that you made? Do you take any responsibility for this situation that you’re in?” King asked.
“I take full responsibility,” Angelo said, adding, “We never denied responsibility… I feel like I failed my daughter because I should have saw different signs. I should have saw the change in my baby girl.”
Both families, the Clarys and the Savages, the parents of Kelly’s other live-in 23-year-old girlfriend, are supposed to reunite with their daughters sometime this week, for the first time in years.