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John Legend on R. Kelly and the music industry: 'We looked away for too long'

Days after R&B singer R. Kelly was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse, John Legend shares his take, saying justice "has been a long time coming."
/ Source: TODAY

Singer and "The Voice" coach John Legend has received credit for being among the few members of the music industry willing to speak out against R. Kelly when the R&B singer faced troubling allegations of sexual assault.

On Tuesday, Legend opened up to TODAY about that choice, his participation in a documentary that put a spotlight on the accusations, as well as Kelly's recent arrest for multiple counts of sexual abuse.

"I think it's been a long time coming," Legend said. "I think a lot of us kind of tolerated or looked the other way on that issue for a long time, and a lot of people were being hurt for decades. We looked away for too long."

"These stories have been around for decades," he added.

Kelly's alleged history of sex abuse, much of which centered on teenage girls, was explored in the recent Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly." Legend appeared in the film, the only major artist in the music industry to do so.

The "Preach" singer said he was "glad" the documentary got made, adding he felt it inspired police to act.

Kelly surrendered to police in Chicago on Feb. 22 after prosecutors there charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse. He was released on Monday after pleading not guilty and posting bond.

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"I'm so glad that victims got to have their voices heard," Legend told TODAY. "But I think them having their voices heard, this story being retold — because this has been told before — I think being retold through (the documentary) really brought the issue to a lot of people's attention."

For now, Legend said, he hopes to "let justice play out."

"Obviously, it's difficult to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt in court, so we'll see what happens," he noted. "But his victims deserve justice."

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