DECATUR, Ga. — The family of Joycelyn Savage, a woman reportedly held by R. Kelly, demanded Tuesday to see her in person – something they’ve been demanding for two years. According to her family, she is being held as part of a sex cult by the R&B star, R. Kelly, who is facing 10 counts of sexual abuse against women, including three under the age of 18.
Standing outside their lawyer’s office in Decatur, Joycelyn’s mother, father and two younger sisters said that the R&B star is lying about his relationship with Joycelyn and his interactions with the Savage family in an interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning.”
“She would have called home by now. She would have called my mom, my dad, my little sister,” said Joycelyn’s 18-year-old sister, Jailyn. “I know for a fact that my sister is not OK. R. Kelly is mentally destroying her. I just want her home. He has put a lot of things in her head that makes her think the world is out to get her.”
Jori Savage, 11, said that Joycelyn was very close to their grandfather, who passed away. The Savage family said Joycelyn did not attend his funeral, although they say they desperately tried to arrange for her to come.
“I haven’t seen my sister in two years and it’s very heartbreaking because I can’t see her because I think she’s being controlled by someone who doesn’t want to talk to me,” the 11-year-old said. “At least she could call my on my birthday, Christmas, or even talk or go to her grandfather’s funeral.”
In the explosive interview that aired Tuesday, Kelly denied having sex with anyone under the age of 17. Attorney Gerald Griggs, who is representing the Savage family, told the media that they have proof that he is lying, through airline tickets they claim were given to one of the individuals they believe the singer is holding against her will.
“Clearly, this is showing she would have been underage when she arrived in the custody and control of Mr. Sylvester Robert Kelly,” Griggs said.
The family also denied R. Kelly’s claims that the Savage family was paid off, or somehow handed Joycelyn over to him.
“At no point did the Savage family ever demand or receive compensation,” Griggs said.
Tim Savage, Joycelyn’s father, called the allegations “horrific.”
“We are a solid family. We care about our daughter. We just want to see our daughter, hear from our daughter, and make sure she’s fine,” Tim said. “If she wants to keep on a relationship (with R. Kelly) that would be her prerogative, but as a parent, our priority is that she is healthy, safe and sound.”
Joycelyn’s mother, Jonjelyn, spoke directly to her daughter through the cameras.
“Joycelyn, if you’re seeing this message, please know that I love you. I’m your mother and I love you dearly,” she said. “Nothing we have done was to defame or embarrass you, it’s because we care about your well-being.”
She said that, as a mother, she knows that something is wrong.
“We went from talking weekly, daily, to not seeing you in two years,” Jonjelyn said. “That’s a clear indication to us, and as your mother, that there is definitely something wrong with this situation. We won’t stop until we have our answers and make sure you’re OK and safe and sound.”
Tim Savage said the family first met R. Kelly at their boutique, where the singer’s manager came to see her perform. He said that Joycelyn already had an EP out and had dreams of a music career.
He said Kelly passed his number to a member of the Savage family and that it was given to Joycelyn’s mother, who set up a meeting.
“We were there for business with Sony,” Tim Savage said. “His manager said he wanted to sign her and R. Kelly would be her executive producer.”
Jailyn Savage stressed that, to her family, it was a business relationship.
“When we found out that R. Kelly wanted to work with her, he’s a known musical genius,” she said.
The last time the Savage family saw Joycelyn was when she was 21 years old and attending college in 2016. They attempted to arrange an intervention with her because she had been skipping her classes, Tim said.
“At one point and time, (Joycelyn) stopped (music) and went off to college. She was at college when all of this happened. She was not with me and my wife, she was trying to get her bachelor’s degree and this predator took her away from her family,” Tim explained. “We tried to find out why she was missing classes, want to get to the bottom of this. We headed back to Henry County and was in the middle of Atlanta when her roommate called and said someone picked her up. Joycelyn was no longer at school. It’s very heartbreaking.”
Their claims first came to light in an interview which has since gone viral in 2017. The couple publicly outlined their concerns for their daughter's safety when they participated in the six-part Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," that aired in January. The series walks through multiple sexual assault allegations against Kelly, including by women living in metro Atlanta.
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Jonjelyn Savage said watching R. Kelly’s expletive-laced interview on "CBS This Morning" made her fear for her daughter.
“I can only image what he does when he’s not on camera. He allegedly has a bad temper, he’s very controlling,” she said.
The family said they do not want money or anything from the R&B singer, other than to see their daughter and put an end to what they call R. Kelly’s “brainwashing” of young women.
“We want to see justice for all these young ladies he came in contact with,” Tim Savage said. “We just want our daughter.”
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