Hank Berrien

R&B star R. Kelly was supposed to perform on May 5 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but after 1,300 students and staff at the University of Illinois at Chicago signed a petition to the university to cancel his performance, citing Kelly’s alleged history of sexual misconduct, the concert was cancelled.

The concert would have been Kelly’s first performance in his hometown since BuzzFeed News alleged he had trapped women in his Chicago and Atlanta homes, controlling “every aspect of their lives” in a sexually abusive “cult.”

Buzzfeed reported in 2017, “Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the parents’ worst fears. They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”

Natalie Bennett, director of the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC, told NBC 5 Friday afternoon that UIC being involved with Kelly “in any way” was contrary to the school’s values of diversity, equity and inclusivity. She stated, “We really want to send a message to not just him, but also the university that we … want survivor’s voices to be taken seriously.”

In April, it was reported that a 20-year-old woman accused Kelly of intentionally giving her a sexually transmitted disease and grooming her for his “sex cult.” As NBC News noted, “Kelly’s publicist, lawyer and executive assistant also reportedly cut ties with him in April.”