In a new interview with The Root, legendary singer Stephanie Mills was asked her thoughts on a number of controversial topics that have been discussed among Black folks, including Jennifer Lopez doing the Motown Tribute at The Grammys (hated it), the Aretha tribute during that same show (liked it, but too short) and the recent Leaving Neverland doc on her former beau Michael Jackson (won’t be watching and doesn’t believe the allegations). Out of all of her opinions on those topics though, nothing was more interesting than her response when asked about R. Kelly. The 61-year-old singer said that while she does think the R&B crooner is guilty, she also thinks if he goes to jail, so should his handlers who overlooked his behavior — and his ex-wife, Andrea Kelly.
“I believe that R. Kelly should go to jail for what he’s done,” Mills said. “I don’t believe that his music should be muted. And I also believe that the handlers and his ex and his ex-wife and all of that to go to jail, too. You cannot tell me you live in a house with a man and you don’t know what’s going on. That is not true. I don’t believe that. She should go to jail, too. And so should the handlers that helped him.”
She also thinks his music shouldn’t be attached to his alleged crimes.
“Him writing his music has nothing to do with that. Him being an entertainer and a star,” she said. “And those parents bringing those children to the show and then allowing him— I have a son; there’s no way I would take my son to a Bruno Mars show, and say “OK, Bruno, you can mentor my son. I’m gonna let him stay with you.’ There’s no way.”
For the record, when it comes to Andrea, she claimed in Surviving R. Kelly that she was often made to stay in one part of the house, and like the other women, had to ask permission to move about. With that being said, she allegedly didn’t know what was going on in her home, even when other women were in the house and said, in that same doc, that they knew she was there, too. She has also said that she was physically abused by Robert, and people in the film, including Kelly’s brother, said that she was separated from family and made to not speak to other people during their marriage.
“It started with yelling and being slapped and grabbed,” she said in the doc about the alleged abuse. “He chips away at your self-esteem, your ability to even think. You’re just thinking, ‘What do I do to not piss him off?’”
She said when she finally met some of the other women while working on the project, it was nice to not feel alone, but also very emotional to know others had been through the same trials as her.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “It’s like ‘Yay, now we’re standing together,’ but at the same time, my heart broke for them to know, you went through what I went through.”