Two women whose parents say they are being held in emotional and sexual captivity by the R&B singer R. Kelly vociferously defended the musician in an interview that aired on Thursday, claiming that their parents are blackmailing him and just out for money.
Azriel Clary, 21, and Joycelyn Savage, 23, told Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” that they were “absolutely” in love with Mr. Kelly, 52, who was charged last month in Chicago with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four women, three of whom were minors at the time.
Beyond his criminal case, Mr. Kelly also has been accused of harboring a so-called sex cult, in which he abused women and controlled every aspect of their lives, including when they can go to the bathroom.
The interview with Ms. Clary and Ms. Savage, who have stood by Mr. Kelly in court, seemed unlikely to settle questions about what exactly goes on in the singer’s home. While the women’s parents say they are brainwashed and much of the world now sees Mr. Kelly as an unrelenting sexual predator, who has been trailed for decades by accusations of abuse and sex with underage girls, Ms. Clary and Ms. Savage lashed out at their families and said they were happy as Mr. Kelly’s girlfriends.
The interview followed the airing on Wednesday of a heated conversation between Mr. Kelly and Ms. King of CBS, in which the singer denied all of the accusations against him. “I have been assassinated,” said Mr. Kelly, who was sometimes shouting, swearing and in tears.
Ms. King said that Mr. Kelly had agreed not to be present for the interview with Ms. Clary and Ms. Savage, but that he entered the room behind them after it began. Ms. King said Mr. Kelly would “cough very loudly,” and that the women were “certainly aware that he was there.”
Mr. Kelly, who had been out on bond since last week, was sent back to jail Wednesday night for his failure to pay his ex-wife more than $160,000 in child support.
Ms. Clary said she met Mr. Kelly at one of his concerts when she was 17. “When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age,” she said. “He thought that I was 18.”
She denied having sex with Mr. Kelly while underage, but said her parents had encouraged her “to take photos with him, sexual videos with him” in case “they ever have to blackmail him.”
“What they’re doing right now is all for money,” Ms. Clary added. “If you can’t see that, you’re ignorant, and you’re stupid,” adding expletives.
Ms. Savage, who met Mr. Kelly when she was 19, backed up Ms. Clary’s version of events. Her parents were “just out here trying to get money and scam, because they didn’t agree on what happened with music,” Ms. Savage said.
Both women’s parents have said their daughters were aspiring singers seeking Mr. Kelly’s guidance in music. Ms. Clary and Ms. Savage denied that they wanted to pursue music careers.
Ms. Clary’s parents, in a statement on Wednesday through their lawyer, Michael Avenatti, denied ever having asked Mr. Kelly for money. “All of the victims and parents cannot be lying,” they said.
Ms. Savage’s family held a news conference in Atlanta on Wednesday, in which they also denied asking Mr. Kelly for money and said they felt she was being controlled. “From Day 1, the only thing we want to do is hear from our daughter and know she’s fine,” said Ms. Savage’s father, Timothy.
Later, the Savage family received what it said was its first call from Joycelyn in two years. “You know that I’m happy,” she could be heard telling them. “You know exactly where I’m at.”
Mr. Kelly, in his interview, had told Ms. King that he loved the women. “We have a relationship; it’s real,” he said. “I’ve known guys all my life that have five or six women, O.K. So don’t go there on me.”
He added that he had no reason to hold the women captive. “Why would I?” Mr. Kelly said. “How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through — oh, right now I just think I need to be a monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out!”
CBS said it would air more from the interviews with Mr. Kelly and the two women in a primetime special on Friday.