As R. Kelly awaits sentencing in his first criminal trial, his victims are left with the remnants of their time with him. One of them is Azriel Clary, who met and began dating the singer when she was just a teenager. Luckily, Azriel’s parents fought publicly and tirelessly until they were reunited with her. Her father Angelo recently spoke about the long road of being kept away from his daughter and how taking a non-judgemental approach helped them heal upon reuniting.
Angelo Clary says not judging his daughter Azriel and her relationship with R. Kelly was key in creating a safe space for her to return
Angelo says despite his pain and frustration related to his daughter being with Kelly, he had to put himself in her shoes in terms of her thought process. Azriel was just 17 years old when she began a relationship with Kelly, who is more than 30 years her senior.
“[I] had [my] share of relationships and understanding of different aspects of life. So, when this happened, I understood what it was and the power of having an older individual who is experienced and taking advantage of a child,” he told Madame Noire in a recent interview. “When intimacy is involved, two things can happen. You can become the biggest enemy to their situation. I won’t say relationship. It was a sick situation. I had to keep loving her, loving on her, even though she was doing something that made no sense. She’s a part of something that made no sense to the world. But we had to stand there and still be parents.”
Additionally, Angelo explained that he did research on women who have been on abusive relationships. That in turn allowed him to get a better understanding of his daughter’s mental state.
“I started reading different things and learning different things about people who have been through these abusive situations and why they stay and why they couldn’t come home, why they felt like it was more dangerous coming home then staying in that. And I never wanted her to feel in danger at home,” he explained. “I wanted her to know that we love her the same as we loved her before she left.”
He doesn’t feel any empathy toward R. Kelly
Since Azriel ended her relationship with Kelly and reunited with her family, Kelly’s life has continued to go downhill. The disgraced singer was recently convicted of racketeering charges in his Brooklyn criminal case. He’s facing life in prison while also awaiting trial in several states for sex abuse and trafficking. Angelo says Kelly deserves the punishment.
“His conviction was something that was coming. I think when it happened, the world was shocked. I wasn’t,” he admitted. “I still have no sympathy for a grown man that takes advantage of children. I think it’s terrible how grown adults can sit there and still side with this individual and justify any action. The sad part is it’s a whole black community still shaming the victims and shaming the families because this man is now convicted of something that he openly participated in.”
Azriel Clary testified against R. Kelly’s criminal case
During Kelly’s trial, Azriel was one of several ex-girlfriends and victims to take the stand. She testified about Kelly’s controlling and manipulative behavior and being forced into sexual scenarios against her will. If she didn’t abide by his rules, she claimed that she’d be beaten and starved. According to Azriel, Kelly once recorded her eating his feces as punishment.