R. Ezriel Cleary has had a volatile relationship with his parents because of his involvement with Kelly. Cleary began dating Kelly at the age of 17. Clary’s parents tried to distance their daughter from the singer and spoke out against her in a 2019 interview. Azriel eventually testified against Kelly at their New York trial and is now defending her parents after their breakup.
Clary sat down with Gayle King for a follow-up interview. King interviewed him with Joycelyn Savage in 2019, the same day he also interviewed Kelly. The full interview is now streaming on Paramout+. In it, Clary explains why her parents were blinded by Kelly as well.
Azriel Clary doesn’t blame her parents for sending her to R. Kelly
By the time Clary met Kelly, she had already been performing on stage music since she was a child. Clary had met other recording artists in his budding career. So when Kelly offers to take Clary under his wing, her parents, Alice and Angelo, are unsuspecting.
“I think people will always try to make it the parents’ fault,” Cleary told King. “But my parents left me with an adult. And none of us, my sisters or my brothers, have touched or molested or taken advantage of. So they turned on me to live with an adult. They trusted him.”
Ezriel Clary’s parents assume they are entering a business relationship
Clary said that her parents, of course, wanted to protect their daughter at all costs. They also wanted him to be successful. So when a successful recording artist offered to help her, who had also worked with Aaliyah, Alice and Angelou saw Kelly as a business opportunity for Azriel.
The witness in the R Kelly trial says that he caught her in a sexual act with Aaliya when Aaliya was ’13 or 14′.
“They thought it was strictly music,” Clary said. “He really thought it was strictly music. Not many people know that my parents met him in Chicago. He took them out and met them in the studio and they told him, ‘He has an amazing voice. He has a phenomenal voice. I want to help him.’ That’s all my parents knew. They didn’t know that he was sexually abusing me.”
R Kelly’s reputation preceded him
Kelly had faced scandals before. In 2008 he pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges, and a jury acquitted him. However, Clary said her parents, like many others, took Kelly’s acquittal at face value.
“I think a lot of people, especially in the urban community, they just got away with it because they had the most iconic music you could ever think of,” Cleary said. “In his mind, he took off. It doesn’t matter what you say because he took off.”
R Kelly’s ex-bandmate allegedly caught him having sex with a minor Aaliyah
In 2020, Kelly was accused of transporting minors across state lines, which led to allegations of sex trafficking. Clary’s testimony further detailed the abuse. Kelly is facing a sentence in May 2022 for sex trafficking and racketeering.
As part of the interview, she told King about the rules that Kelly followed, controlling who she spoke to and separating her from her parents. Although she blamed her parents for asking Kelly for money in a 2019 interview, Clary now admits she was scared.
“I didn’t know, as a kid, how to confront my parents and tell them I’m into something I just don’t know how to get out of?” Clary said. “One of the hardest things in life for anyone is asking for help.”
Clary moved back in 2020 with her family. CBS News said neither Kelly’s lawyers nor his other girlfriends responded to requests for comment on Clary’s interview.