Last night, January 3rd, Lifetime’s new docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, aired its first two episodes. The six-part series chronicles the years of sexual abuse allegations leveled against the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer—and the many people who allowed his alleged actions to continue unquestioned. The remaining four episodes of the series will air tonight, January 4th, and tomorrow, January 5th, and the initial two episodes have already brought many disturbing revelations to light. Here are just a few of the most harrowing details we’ve learned so far.
1 Witnesses say Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, was kept locked in an apartment.
USA Today reports that the R&B singer’s former wife, Andrea Kelly, said he planned their entire wedding himself—and she didn’t even know it was going to happen.
Rolling Stone notes that other witnesses interviewed for the series claimed that she was later locked in Kelly’s apartment. Andrea Kelly has spoken about being abused by her ex-husband before, and in an October 2018 episode of The View, she alleged that he physically abused her.
2One of Kelly’s former backup dancers claimed she witnessed him committing statutory rape.
Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer and dancer for Kelly, disclosed that she witnessed Kelly having a sexual encounter on a tour bus with then 15-year-old Aaliyah (Kelly was 27). However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that Aaliyah’s mother, Diane Haughton, dismissed Cunningham’s claims as “lies and fabrications” in a tweeted statement.
3 Kelly’s ex-assistant said Aaliyah was “worried and scared” at their wedding.
Demetrius Smith, who previously worked as an assistant and tour manager for Kelly, discussed arranging Kelly’s marriage to then 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994. Smith explains that Kelly used a fake marriage license for the ceremony, which listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. Although Kelly has claimed the marriage never occurred, Smith insists it did, adding that Aaliyah was “worried and scared” before the ceremony.
The information that has come to light in Surviving R. Kelly is undoubtedly horrifying. We just hope the series helps bring Kelly to justice.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.