Friday, July 12, 2019

The Cases Of R.Kelly And Jeffrey Epstein. Compare And Contrast.

From recent news:

Singer R. Kelly has been arrested in Chicago on federal sex crime charges, according to two law enforcement officials.
The 52-year-old was arrested by NYPD detectives and Homeland Security Investigation agents on sex trafficking charges, officials tell News 4, and it is expected he will be brought to New York.

The R&B star has been the subject of different sexual abuse allegations for nearly two decades, with some of the alleged acts dating back to 1998.
Back in February, Kelly was charged with aggravated sexual abuse involving four women, three of whom were minors when the alleged abuse occurred. He pleaded not guilty and was released from Chicago's Cook County Jail after posting bail.

A jury in 2008 acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges stemming from a video showing him having sex with a girl as young as 13, prosecutors claimed at the time. Kelly faced 15 years in prison for that charge, but the young woman in that claim denied it was her and did not testify.

If you think there might be an echo in the room, you are correct.  This case looks a lot like the Jeffrey Epstein case:  Both men are rich and powerful and both have successfully slithered out of earlier sexual abuse allegations concerning minors, while apparently not changing their lives at all.

But there are differences, too.  R. Kelly is black, Jeffrey Epstein is not, R. Kelly is a famous musician, Jeffrey Epstein is mostly famous for being close to famous people, and the two used different strategies in their (alleged) preying for victims:

R. Kelly has been accused of creating a cult* where women and girls were held hostage inside his properties, while Epstein seems to have kept his targets on longer leashes**, to be called back when required.

Still, the differences in those hunting styles disguise a deeper similarity, one which is an integral part of much sex trafficking:

The relationship between the sex trafficker and the exploited minor is often "a mental tether and not a physical chain," she said.
"Once manipulated" by the sex trafficker, "she can be in any social space and still be exploited but not see herself as a victim," she continued.


With victims too young to understand that they're being manipulated and used, they often tragically blame themselves or cover for their abuser. 

Victims reported that Epstein paid them when they were hard up for cash — and paid extra when they brought new girls. He offered them affection, or promised to boost their future careers. That’s what kept them coming back to his palatial Palm Beach estate for years.
That line of thinking isn’t uncommon for victims of human trafficking rings, experts say, and it can take years for survivors to realize they were victimized twice: once sexually, and a second time through manipulation with money, power, or praise.
“They’ll often talk about the extent to which they have agency in their own decision, but they don’t see themselves as being exploited,” said Rachel Lovell, sex trafficking expert and assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. “They see themselves as being in love, as making the best decisions with the limited circumstances that they have.”


This article, from 2017,  gives some insights into how the process of —what?  conversion? brain-washing? — slowly worked for one woman, Kitti Jones, who has since sued R. Kelly.

Note how familiar some aspects of that gradual tightening of the noose sound.  Kelly used the kinds of devices domestic and intimate partner abusers routinely employ, only he did it to several girls and women at the same time.  Another woman suing Kelly, Faith Rodgers, recounts similar incidents in 2018:

The allegations are similar to others made against Kelly recently, from women who allege he held them against his will in a “cult”, where as well as being forced into sexual acts, the women had their diet and even use of the bathroom controlled by Kelly. Rodgers’ lawsuit describes her case as “run-of-the-mill R Kelly sexual abuse”.

** Or used the girls and women he had already hunted to find him new targets.