A mum has told the incredible story of how she rescued her daughter from the clutches of R Kelly ‘s alleged sex cult.
Michelle Kramer hadn’t seen her daughter Dominique Gardner for three years when she travelled across the country to hunt her down.
Sharing her story on new six-part documentary series Surviving R Kelly, she revealed her daughter had first met the shamed R&B star – who has denied all allegations made against him – when she was 18 in 2009.
It wasn’t until 2018 that Michelle managed to bring her daughter home, and by that point she hadn’t seen her for three years.
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Dominique met R Kelly when she was 18
It’s claimed in the documentary that he made her shave her head and dress in men’s clothing
In the documentary, it was claimed that Kelly – real name Robert Sylvester Kelly – played on Dominique’s tomboy look by making her dress in caps and baggy clothes and shave her hair.
Dominique ended up moving into Kelly’s house in Atlanta, along with a number of other girls, some of whom were cut off from contact with their parents.
A number of girls feature in the documentary to talk about their time living in the house, claiming that Kelly would slowly break them down through psychological, physical and sexual abuse – all of which he has denied.
They claim it would start with him insisting they call him "daddy" and progress to them being locked in a room and starved if they "broke daddy’s rules".
The women – some of whom met Kelly when they were under the legal age of consent – claimed they’d have to ask for his permission before leaving their rooms or eating, and that they never saw another girl although they knew others were in the house.
R Kelly has denied all allegations made against him
They claim he’d keep them separated and would often call to their rooms to tell them to get ready before they’d be brought to "the black room", which was painted and furnished entirely in black, for alone time with them.
Women broke down as they described the "degrading" things done to them in that room.
They also claimed they’d have to bang on the floor with their feet to let Kelly know they had left their own bedrooms, and would sometimes have to do it for hours before he would respond to them.
A devastated Michelle described the hell she went through when she was unable to see her daughter, and described the clever way she eventually managed to bring her home.
The rescue mission all came about because of Joycelyn Savage, who had not been seen by her parents for two years.
After they appeared on television to appeal for their daughter’s return, Joycelyn appeared in a video on TMZ to say she was fine and not being held against her will.
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She shared her daughter’s story
She travelled to Beverly Hills to rescue her
And later, when TMZ interviewed Joycelyn out and about in Beverly Hills, Michelle recognised her daughter Dominique, who was stood next to her.
She launched her rescue mission by convincing the documentary crew to take her to Beverly Hills to find her daughter.
She managed to find the hotel where her daughter was staying and asked staff to ring her daughter and tell her there was a package waiting for her, saying she was planning to surprise her for Mother’s Day.
Dominique refused to come down, but the hotel manager said he’d take Michelle up to the room, and when she opened the door, they embraced in an emotional reunion.
Dominque whispered that Joycelyn was in the room as Michelle begged her to come home, and she told her to come back to the hotel at 6pm.
But when she went back, she was told by hotel staff that her daughter had called the police to say Michelle wasn’t her mother, and that if she didn’t leave the hotel she’d be arrested for trespassing.
Michelle at a press conference on January 14
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
‘Survivor’ Faith Rogers and Michelle
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
A devastated Michelle went back to the car but refused to leave knowing she was so close to her daughter.
She called Dominique’s hotel room to say she knew it wasn’t her who called the police, and she hung up.
But after a while, Michelle defiantly marched into the hotel and emerged with her daughter.
Clutching her tightly, she told her everything was going to be okay as she led her to the car.
It was May 11, last year, when she took her daughter home to Chicago from Los Angeles.
And Dominique was heard telling her mother that leaving with her was the hardest decision she’d ever had to make.
However, she revealed that Dominque returned to R Kelly.
She told the cameras: "For her to be back home in Chicago, she was still trying to find her way, she was still fighting them demons. She used to fight them every day."
Michelle said that Dominique was so affected by her experiences that she couldn’t talk to men.
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Attorney Gloria Allred (L) listens as Michelle speaks to the press responding to threats and retaliation by R Kelly
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
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She said she began to feel like she had "My Nikka" back.
But she continued: "That was like Monday, Tuesday. Wednesday came, she woke up. R Kelly made it back to Chicago.
"She said, ‘Mommy, he wanna see me’. I said, ‘For what? It’s over, Nikka, let it go’.
"And she went, ‘Momma, I promise I’m coming back’."
A tearful Michelle described how she went to pick her son up from school and that when she returned Dominique was gone.
"No goodbye, no nothing," she said. "She was only home for three days."
Dominique did briefly return to R Kelly, but went home again and has been living with Michelle ever since.
Joycelyn and Azriel Clary are still with Kelly and have reportedly hired lawyers to prevent their parents from taking them from his house.
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