A recent online posting by former boy-band member Raz-B started off as a sexual allegation, then turned into a denial and, at least at press time, was developing into a story of a forced confession and disappearance.
The story began when Demario "Raz-B" Thornton and his brother Ricardo Thornton recently used the very public arena of YouTube to accuse former manager Chris Stokes of sexually molesting them and other members of the group. The video featured footage of what the pair claimed was a phone conversation between Ricardo Thornton and Stokes, during which the manager says, "I don’t do that anymore. That was me years ago … I just don’t do that anymore."
Raz-B said, in essence, that Stokes would share the band members with agents, record execs and others in the industry.
Stokes later vehemently denied the accusations and said in a statement that he had "recently stopped financially supporting both individuals along with assisting them with their criminal and legal matters." Stokes said this led him "to believe they are resentful and looking to benefit financially."
Stokes also claimed the purported phone conversation on the video was taken out of context and taped without his knowledge.
"I understand from my attorneys that it’s against the law in California to record someone on the phone without letting them know they are being taped as was the case in this situation," he said. "These individuals released video with doctored audio – I did not say what they accuse me of saying in the context in which it was taken – all statements which were attributed to me were doctored."
Omarion, another former member of the group, sided with Stokes.
"I want to be on the record as saying that ‘Raz-B’ Thorton and Ricardo Thorton are lying regarding Chris Stokes. Chris is a father figure to myself and many others in the industry," he said. "I stand behind him with no question whatsoever."
Soon, Raz-B posted a YouTube apology video December 26th that said the previous allegations were false. He was standing in the middle of the street. It was unclear who was holding the camera.
"This is DeMario Thornton, publicly known as Raz-B of B2K," he said. "I would like to send a public apology for some tapes that were leaked without my authority. I just want to say that those allegations are not true … with Chris Stokes and Marques Houston, and I apologize for any hurt this may have caused publicly [or] financially."
Stokes said in a statement December 27th that he was "happy that DeMario ‘Raz-B’ Thornton and Ricardo Thornton realized their mistakes and admitted to lying. … I knew that the truth would eventually come to light."
However, Ricardo Thornton then told MTV that he refuses to retract his allegations and that he suspects his brother will "come back around."
The story would have been surreal enough, but then it took another turn.
"I’ve been quiet but not any longer. This story is just developing," E Jizza, the CEO of Raz-B’s JMC Management Group, said in a post on Bossip.com. "Raz was forced into that apology and trust me, this s**t is deep.
"If you take a close look at the video he couldn’t even look at the lens," he continued. "This was some street shit. But will be handle the proper way. Like Ricky said in the letter, Chris Stokes is like a gay version of Suge Knight."
Meanwhile, Raz-B allegedly "disappeared" for two days, but then a posting on his MySpace page – claiming to be from Raz-B – said he was fine and "hanging out with Boog." He said his cell phone battery died so he could not be reached. However, to prove he was alive, he posted a photo dated October 10, 2006.
At press time, Raz-B was nowhere near YouTube.