As Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage tearfully defended the singer, Gayle King said Kelly made sure they knew he was listening.
She has been universally praised for her expert handling of the explosive R. Kelly interview.
But even Gayle King admitted her own mothering instincts almost overrode her journalistic principles on Thursday when she felt the impulse to rescue Kelly's "girlfriends".
The second part of the CBS interview aired on Thursday morning, where Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, who are eight years younger than Kelly with their ages combined, angrily and tearfully defended him.
But as King pointed out afterwards, Kelly was never out of earshot — and he made sure both girls knew that.
During the interview, both Clary and Savage insisted they were in love with Kelly, that he had done nothing wrong, and that their families had concocted the charges in order to extort money from him.
At one stage Clary broke down in tears, alleging her own father had encouraged her to lie about her age and to make sexual videos with Kelly in case they needed to blackmail him later, "which is exactly what they're doing."
After the interview King revealed that Kelly's team had assured her he would not be in the room while she spoke to the girls; however she said he stood just around the corner behind them and would "cough very loudly" at points so that "they were aware he was there."
King, who was the personification of coolness on the outside, conceded she was torn inside.
"I just wanted to say — as a mother — get your things, let's go," she admitted afterward. "You are 21, you are 23, and he is 52 years old."
"Now I know many people believe that age is just a number, but when you're looking at these young women they parrot a lot of what he is saying."
She concluded: "It's a bad situation. I think one day years from now, everybody will look back on this and say it's very sad, very tawdry and just very very ugly."
The interview segment opened with both women insisting they were in a relationship with Kelly: "We all are family all together," Clary said. "We have our moments where we sit and watch movies all together, we go to amusement parks all together."
When King probed if it was a "three-way sexual relationship", Clary angrily shot back that it was none of her business.
"Sexually, well, first of all, I'm not here to talk about my personal life, and I would never share with no one what I do in or outside of the bedroom. And as a woman, I'm sure you would not either," she spat.
The conversation then turned to their parents, who claim Kelly has brainwashed their daughters; But Clary told King it was her father who was the "manipulative liar."
"When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age. So when I met him, he thought that I was 18," she said. "On top of that, when I was 17, my parents were actually making me, trying to get me to take photos with him, take sexual videos with him, all kinds of stuff."
"They said, because if they ever have to blackmail him, what they're trying to do now, they can use it against him, which is exactly what they're doing."
Nodding in agreement, Savage chimed in: "Everything that she's saying is true."
"Both our parents are basically out here trying to get money and scam, because they didn't agree on what happened, you know, with music or whatever it could be. And they're just very upset."
The parents deny ever receiving or even asking Kelly for money.
"Yeah, well, he's... he's the manipulator," Clary said of her father. "He's very manipulative, so he's the one you need to watch out for. But my dad and my mom... they started to send threats to both me and him. They said, 'Oh, I'll put all your naked pictures all over the world. I'm going to ruin you, I'm going to ruin him. If he doesn't send $20,000 to this bank account by Monday, oh, I'm gonna put everything out there, and then $10,000 after that.'
"You're trying to solicit me like I'm some f--king ho. I'm not, I'm your child."
Breaking down into tears, Clary continued: "I'm crying, because you guys don't know the truth! You guys believe in some f--king facade that our parents are saying. This is all f--king lies for money, and if you can't see that, you're ignorant and you're stupid as f--k, because you want to be. All because that's the world we live in. Negativity sells, gossip is what sells, rumors are what sell."
Gayle countered claiming the accusations were "more than gossip. This is more than just rumors. These are decades of allegations against Robert Kelly."
Clary fired back: "We're not here to talk about decades. We're here to talk about what our parents are doing right now. And what they're doing right now is all for money."
After the interview aired, attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing Clary's parents, shared a statement.
"Azriel Clary is presently suffering from years of mental abuse and manipulation by R. Kelly. Sadly, like so many girls before them, Azriel and Joycelyn Savage have been manipulated and convinced by Kelly to lie to protect him from serious criminal charges."
Below please find a statement relating to Azriel Clary. pic.twitter.com/KSmwh3AYIc— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 7, 2019
"Azriel's parents never attempted to blackmail anyone and never suggested their daughter take nude photos or sexual videos. And they have never asked R. Kelly for a single penny. These are absolute lies fabricated by R. Kelly and we have evidence to show that these claims are bogus."
Kelly currently faces ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse; he was released on bail, but was re-arrested, this time for failing to pay the $161,000 he allegedly owes in child support.
During his own interview with King, he claimed he recently discovered he was down to his last $350,000, having made his first ever trip to the bank alone and realizing people with access to his account had been bleeding him. He claimed he had moved the money to a new account just before his arrest — which took 5-7 business days — which is why he could not pay his own bail.
In 2002 Kelly was indicted on 13 counts of child pornography, but was acquitted of all charges in 2008.
In the recent Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly," commentators pointed out the case against him fell apart because there was "no victim", as the alleged minor in the video insisted it was not her and refused to testify.