Azriel Clary, one of R.Kelly’s survivors who opened up about living with the singer in a 2019 interview with CBS, is now speaking out about the disgraced singer’s guilty verdict, recalling that the 2019 interview with Gayle King was a “blessing.”
Kelly was found guilty on all nine federal counts Monday, including racketeering, sex crimes, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and human trafficking.
“For five years, since I was 17, I didn’t have any relationships with any other women except for the women that he had been intimate with. And so when I did that interview with you, I instantly regretted immediately how I reacted,” Clary said to King in a new interview per CBS.
“I don’t know, something about just watching you be very casual and calm and collected and it just reminded me of me. I was, like, ‘Wait a minute. I used to be that poised. I used to be that calm. You know, what happened to that girl? Where did she go?'”
Clary began to look at her relationship with Kelly in a different light.
“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 then began to recall other people who worked for Kelly were “normalizing his actions” despite the obvious abuse.
“It was not only me, it was other women, other women who were older than me. You know, when I met him at 17, he had four other women. And so these women are all normalizing his actions. And then you have assistants normalizing his actions,” she said. “And you have workers and security and everyone else that normalizes it. So, me being very young at that time, I just learned to normalize it.”
She also discussed her recent testimony in court against Kelly. The judge deemed her testimony to be very “graphic” and it was not released to the public.
“It was very disturbing to have to relive those moments,” Clary said about testifying. “A piece of me was happy because I felt like this person no longer has control over me, you know? 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.”
Clary has forgiven herself for her previous actions and wishes to move on with her life going forward.
“Even I have to take accountability for my actions,” she said. “It’s OK to reevaluate your life. It is OK to change your mind, you know? You are never too old to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I thought this was good for me, but it’s actually not.’
She continued: “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.”
Clary sat down with King in 2019 with another woman named Joycelyn Savage who also defended Kelly at the time.
Savage has yet to speak out since that interview.
Watch Clary and King’s full interview below: