The crisis manager representing R. Kelly found himself at the center of a crisis Monday, after calling the singer a “mess,” and saying he’d never leave his daughter alone with an accused pedophile.
Darrell Johnson stepped down hours after he made the comments on CBS This Morning.
“Mr. Kelly is a mess right now,” Johnson told co-host Gayle King during the interview.
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Kelly has been in jail since he was arrested July 11 under federal indictments in Illinois and New York on sex trafficking, kidnapping, and child pornography charges. At a July 16 hearing, he was denied bail.
Johnson, who’s also been described as Kelly’s “publicist,” has made frequent media appearances on the singer’s behalf since the fallout began in January, following the premiere of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly.
On Monday morning, Johnson defended Kelly, saying he never saw any unusual activity in the seven months he’s worked with the Grammy-winning performer.
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When King asked Johnson if he would leave his 20-something daughter alone with Kelly, he didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I wouldn’t leave my daughter with anybody that’s accused of pedophilia. Period.”
“That doesn’t seem like a contradiction to you?” King shot back. “You’re defending R. Kelly but at the same time, saying you wouldn’t leave your own daughter with him?”
“I wouldn’t leave my daughter with anyone. I’ll say it again, that’s accused of being a pedophile,” he said.
King then asked about Kelly’s mental state and if he’s on suicide watch.
“I am concerned about Mr. Kelly,” Johnson said, adding, “I would assume at this point” that he’s on suicide watch. “No one wants to be locked down for 24 hours, no TV.”
While other inmates might pass the time reading books, Johnson said that’s not the case with Kelly because he’s illiterate.
“He can’t read and write, so he can’t read a book. It’s almost like a jury has already convicted him,” Johnson said.
Hours later, Johnson was no longer working with Kelly and issued a statement saying the singer is in “good hands” with criminal defense attorney Steve Greenberg.
“I step down as crisis manager for personal reasons. Mr. Kelly is in good hands with Mr. Greenberg,” Johnson told CBS News.
Watch Johnson’s interview below.