As criticism and allegations begin to pile up against R. Kelly — in response to the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly, which aired earlier this month — a former intern is alleging that she was abused by the singer when she was just 16-years-old.
As reported by NBC News, Tracy Sampson has opened up about the alleged abuse she faced when she met R. Kelly back in 1999.
At the time, Sampson was interning at Epic Records, a record label owned by Sony Corporation of America. In her first on-camera interview with NBC’s Dateline, Sampson claimed that Kelly made an attempt to kiss her when she was still a teenager, later starting a sexual relationship between the two.
During the interview, she explained how Kelly asked if he could kiss her. Even though she rejected his advances, he continued, asking if he could instead hug her. When the underage intern hugged Kelly, he proceeded to kiss her anyway.
“I was in love with him,” Sampson explained. “I just didn’t know what to do. Like, I didn’t know if this was normal. I didn’t know if this is how adults acted.”
While the inappropriate relationship continued for years, Tracy Sampson ended things when she turned 18 and proceeded to file a lawsuit against R. Kelly. The matter was settled out of court in 2002, with Sampson being awarded $250,000.
R. Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, explains that he was not representing the singer at the time, but argues that Kelly has done nothing wrong. He explains that there is no evidence against his client having sexual relations with underage girls, as no such contact took place.
When asked by Dateline, Greenberg elaborated on the ever-growing accusations being levied against R. Kelly.
“There’s not ‘all these women.’ There’s a few women who are making these allegations for which there’s no proof,” Greenberg explained. “The record companies are abandoning him. Other artists are all of a sudden acting like they’re shocked by these rumors that – that are floating around. He’s having a very difficult time. But he is strong, he’s tough. He wants to put out his music and continue performing for people.”
A number of industry professionals and musicians have cut ties with R. Kelly amidst the numerous scandals and allegations. As reported by Spin, Celine Dion, Chance the Rapper, and Lady Gaga have had their collaborations with R. Kelly removed from various streaming services, including Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music.