How Many Red Flags Is Enough?

Why are we so unwilling to confront child abuse?

Steve QJ
5 min readDec 11, 2022
Photo by shahin khalaji on Unsplash

If you lay out even a few of the red flags pointing to R. Kelly’s decades-long history of child abuse, it feels like a bad joke.

There was his raunchy debut single, “She’s Got That Vibe," in which he sings about how “little cute Aaliyah," who was 12 years old at the time, “turns him on.”

There was the sex tape where he mentions over and over and over again that the girl who appears with him is only 14 years old.

There were the rumours about his marriage to Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old (he bribed a government employee to make a fake ID stating that she was 18).

There was Aaliyah’s hit single, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, written and produced by Kelly, in which she sings about “going all the way” with a mysterious older man.

By the early 2000s, Kelly’s crimes were common enough knowledge to be a punchline on Chappelle’s show. Yet despite several other women coming forward to accuse him of abusing them as children, despite a string of lawsuits that he settled out of court or had dismissed on technicalities, most people spent more time critiquing his weird musical soap opera, than his predilection for statutory rape.



Steve QJ

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