An R. Kelly Survivor Described How She Felt While Giving Horrific Testimony About His Sexual Abuse

"You don't tell me what to do and what to wear and where to go and how long to be in a room anymore."

Azriel Clary, who had previously defended R. Kelly in a 2019 CBS News interview, spoke out about how she felt while testifying against him in federal court last month.

Clary, who testified using a pseudonym, revealed horrific details about the abuse and degradation Kelly used to control her while they lived together.

"It was very disturbing to have to relive those moments," Clary, 23, told Gayle King in a CBS Mornings interview that aired Thursday.

"A piece of me was happy because I felt like this person no longer has control over me, you know?" Clary said. "You don't tell me what to do and what to wear and where to go and how long to be in a room anymore."

After 11 sexual abuse survivors, including Clary, testified, Kelly was found guilty in federal court of racketeering and sex trafficking. He faces decades in prison.

In an exclusive interview, @gayleking speaks with Azriel Clary, one of the R. Kelly survivors who testified against him in court. “You are never too old to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I thought this was good for me, but it’s actually not,’” she says of speaking out against Kelly.

Twitter: @CBSMornings

In the 2019 interview with King, Clary and another woman, Joycelyn Savage, said they were Kelly's "girlfriends" and claimed that he wasn't abusive toward them. Clary, who was 21 at the time, had also broken down in tears while angrily defending Kelly.

Clary revealed in court that she had not been honest during that interview because Kelly had been present in the room during the taping and had watched them closely.

She told King on Thursday that Kelly had coached them on what to say in the interview and had instructed them to be "angry and upset" after he had finished his own heated interview with King.

"And so we were — we came in angry," Clary said.

She said that Kelly had them practice answering questions every day before the 2019 interview.

"And if he didn't like our answers, he would tell us exactly what to say and how to say it," Clary told King.

She said that Kelly was very happy with their 2019 interview and wanted to celebrate how well they had done. But she said she "instantly regretted" how she had reacted during the interview.

"It kind of made me kind of wake up in a sense, and realize, 'Why am I acting like this? Why am I putting myself through all of this misery? Why am I exploiting myself for a man who has me in this position in the first place, you know?' And I really had to come to terms and, you know, realize that it wasn't love," she said. "Love doesn't hurt, you know?"

Clary also described how she "learned to normalize" the horrific abuse she endured while living with Kelly as a teenager after seeing all the other older women who lived with him, as well as his assistants and security, justify his actions.

There was nothing anyone could have done to get her to leave the situation, she said.

She said it was something she would've had to realize herself, adding that a lot of people "don't realize, with victims, the more you try to help them, the more it upsets them sometimes."

Clary left the Chicago apartment she shared with Kelly seven months after her 2019 interview with King.

She told King Thursday that it was important for her to do another interview because she wanted to take "accountability" for her actions and to show that it was OK to "reevaluate your life."

"You are never too old to wake up and say, 'Hey, I thought this was good for me, but it's actually not,'" Clary said. "And so I feel like that's why it was important for me to come back here and see you again, because it is OK to change your mind. It is OK to apologize and forgive yourself, more importantly. And that's really what I had to do."

Correction: Joycelyn Savage's name was misspelled in a previous version of this post.

Topics in this article

Skip to footer