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Time's Up movement launches 'Mute R. Kelly' campaign, gains support from celebs

William E. Ketchum III

 // May 1, 2018

Randee St. Nicholas // RCA Records

The Time's Up movement gained steam by exposing sexism in the film industry, but its latest mission finds its supporters aiming to end the career of controversial musician R. Kelly - and big names in the entertainment world are showing support for the cause.

In an open letter published at The Root on Monday (April 30), Time's Up revealed the plans for and motivations behind its Mute R. Kelly campaign.

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"Over the past 25 years, the man known publicly as R. Kelly has sold 60 million albums, toured the globe repeatedly and accumulated hundreds of millions of plays on radio and streaming services," the letter reads.

"During this time, he also: Married a girl under 18 years of age. Was sued by at least four women for sexual misconduct, statutory rape, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint and furnishing illegal drugs to a minor. Was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. Has faced allegations of sexual abuse and imprisonment of women under threats of violence and familial harm."

The movement then called out multiple "corporations and venues with ties to R. Kelly" to take action: RCA Records, Ticketmaster, Spotify and Apple Music, and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, a North Carolina venue scheduled to host an R. Kelly concert on May 11.

The Twitter hashtag #MuteRKelly has found support from the likes of Questlove, Ava Duvernay, John Legend, Shona Rimes and more.

Representatives for R. Kelly released a statement to Buzzfeed News that reads, in part: "R. Kelly supports the pro-women goals of the Time's Up movement. We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target."

There have been rumors and litigation about R. Kelly's relationship with underage girls and young women for 25 years, dating back to 1994 when Vibe magazine published a copy of a marriage certificate between an adult Kelly and a then 15-year-old Aaliyah. There were more incidents over the years, including a sex videotape with an underage girl and repeated stories in media, but R. Kelly has not been found guilty of any crimes.

But R. Kelly has been in the news more in the past two years. Former partners and acquaintances have accused him of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and of running a "sex cult" with underage girls. In March 2018, BBC also aired an original documentary titled R. Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes. The singer was reportedly dropped by his publicist, lawyer and assistant in recent weeks, after more allegations of sexual misconduct.

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