On Jan. 3 2019, Lifetime aired a groundbreaking documentary titled “Surviving R. Kelly.” The six part docu-series spoke about the infamous R&B singer’s alleged sex cult, pedophilia, and the physical and mental abuse allegations against him. The series featured interviews from the victims and their families, psychologists, R. Kelly’s entourage and family, celebrities, and more. The documentary garnered much attention from the public, gaining 2.1 million viewers. It also sparked renewed interest of R. Kelly’s allegations, leading him to be under investigation in the state of Georgia, where the singer lives with several women who are allegedly held against their will.
“Surviving R. Kelly” starts off talking about the singer’s childhood, growing up as a shy kid in inner city Chicago, where he and his brothers endured molestation from a family member. It then goes on to talk about his rise to fame and the beginning of his obsession with underage girls. Associates of the famous singer would say that R. Kelly would hang around the local high school, trying to pick up young girls. The documentary proceeded to the defamed singer’s first public scandal, where he married R&B legend, Aaliyah, who was only 15 at the time. A former backup singer of Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, said that while on tour, she and the rest of the crew saw R. Kelly having sex with the then underage Aaliyah.
After two months the marriage between R. Kelly and Aaliyah was annulled by her parents. Unfortunately, Aaliyah died in 2001 in a plane crash at the young age of 22. She would have been 40 years old this year. Despite the news of their marriage being made public and everyone knowing Aaliyah was underage, R. Kelly remained in the limelight and bigger than ever. He also kept preying on teenage girls. Members of his entourage would say that R. Kelly would go to malls looking for girls and would ask his bodyguards to ask them out for him.
Besides being a pedophile, R. Kelly was also physically abusive to his wife Andrea Kelly. The two were married from 1996 to 2009. She has discussed in various interviews how he started off nice, but quickly turned violent. On an interview during the talk show “The View,” Andrea gave details about the abuse, saying that he once hog-tied her and almost suffocated her. On “Surviving R. Kelly” one of Kelly’s ex-proteges, Sparkle, talked about one experience she witnessed. She said she was watching TV with R. Kelly and heard a knocking at the door. When the door opened, she noticed it was Andrea asking for permission to get something to eat.
Next, the topic of the infamous sex tape was discussed. The sex tape came to public light in December of 2000, when it was dropped off anonymously at the Chicago Sun-Times. The tape featured R. Kelly having sexual intercourse with an underage girl and even urinating on her. Word about it got out and eventually bootleg copies of the tape began circulating the streets.
Despite the clear evidence of him being the perpetrator, he was acquitted from all charges in 2008.
R. Kelly’s protege, Sparkle, claimed that the young girl in the video is in fact her niece, who she introduced to R. Kelly when she was 12 years old. Despite him nearly going to jail, R. Kelly has continued preying on young girls and forcing them into his sex cult. Families of the young girls have said they have not been in contact with their daughters in years and claim they are living in harsh conditions. Since then, protests have sparked across the country, like #MuteRKelly, that try to end his career and get his music off platforms like Spotify. Albeit, R. Kelly has been spotted in clubs, singing and continuing on with his life as if nothing has happened.
Sophia’s Corner is a new weekly column written by Talon reporter, Sophia Crowder. It’ll talk about everything from movies, music, and social issues in society.