R&B singer R. Kelly is blaming “rumors” for the cancelation of a scheduled performance at the University of Illinois at Chicago after students and staff petitioned against his appearance because of sexual misconduct allegations.
“I don’t know why they canceled the show. I’ve never heard of a show being canceled because of rumors, but I guess there’s a first time for everything,” Kelly said in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday.
Kelly has been dogged by dozens of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct over the years, including operating a sexually abusive cult and producing child pornography ― a crime he was acquitted of. A woman recently accused him of infecting her with an STD.
Kelly, a Grammy-winning Chicago native, hinted at legal action over being booted from Love Jam concert, scheduled for May 5 at the university pavilion.
“I’m going to try to get to the bottom line of it, you know, as far as my lawyers are concerned, and see exactly what happened and why I was canceled,” he said.
The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Women’s Leadership and Resource Center also celebrated Kelly’s canceled performance on Facebook on Friday, calling it “a victory for all of us, but especially for Black women and girls!”
On Monday, the Times’s Up movement’s Women of Color committee released a statement outlining reasons for rallying against Kelly and demands for an investigation into his conduct. The group wants Kelly probed for his alleged marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was 15, child pornography charges, lawsuits against him by women, and the recent cult claims.
“We call on people everywhere to join with us to insist on a world in which women of all kinds can pursue their dreams free from sexual assault, abuse and predatory behavior,” reads the committee’s statement posted on The Root. “To this end, today we join an existing online campaign called #MuteRKelly.
In a statement obtained by BuzzFeed, a representative for Kelly said the singer supports the Time’s Up movement but believes its attack on him is an “attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.”
“We understand criticizing a famous artist is a good way to draw attention to those goals — and in this case, it is unjust and off-target,” the statement read. “Time’s Up has neglected to speak with any of the women who welcome R. Kelly’s support, and it has rushed to judgment without the facts.”
Kelly is slated to perform at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina on May 11. Tickets remained on sale for that performance. A representative for the Greensboro arena did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This story has been updated with a response from a Kelly representative.