'Surviving R. Kelly' marathon: The most horrifying claims from Episodes 3 and 4
The Lifetime docu-series “Surviving R. Kelly” sheds new light on allegations that have circled the R&B star for decades. Maeve McDermott explains. USA TODAY
Editor's note: Lifetime is airing a marathon of its docu-series "Surviving R. Kelly" beginning at 6 p.m. EST/PST Friday. The six-hour series has been making headlines for the disturbing portrait it paints of the controversial singer. Below, read more about the most troubling allegations revealed in Episodes 3 and 4, "Sex Tape Scandal" (8 EST/PST) and "The People vs. R. Kelly" (9 EST/PST).
While the first two hours of "Surviving R. Kelly" focused on the singer's early life and his alleged initial encounters with underage women, including his marriage to the 15-year-old Aaliyah, Friday's episodes hone in on Kelly's sex tape scandal, his 2002 indictment on child pornography and his trial, which culminated with his acquittal in 2008.
Below, read more about the allegations in Part 2 of "Surviving R. Kelly," and revisit the recap of Thursday's Part 1 episodes here.
USA TODAY contacted Kelly's representatives for comment.
USA TODAY asked Lifetime to respond criticism of the documentary. Kannie Yu LaPack, SVP, Publicity and Public Affairs for the network, told USA TODAY she would not respond to specific criticisms, but she said in an email that everything in the documentary had been “legally vetted and corroborated.”
Later, she sent an official statement via email: "'Surviving R. Kelly' is a six-part documentary series exploring R. Kelly’s personal and professional history, showcasing the survivors who are emerging from the shadows to unite their voices and share their allegations of abuse. The documentary also tells the stories of families who are currently still trying to get their girls home."
The underage girl in R. Kelly’s tape was allegedly the niece of one of his associates -- and he lied about her age during threesomes
The second part of “Surviving R. Kelly” focuses on the infamous sex tape that showed Kelly allegedly urinating on an underage girl.
Two of the woman interviewed in the documentary claimed to know the underage girl in the tape. The first was Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards, a singer who worked with Kelly as his bandmate and mentee, who claimed that the girl was her niece and she introduced her to Kelly when the girl was 12.
““It (expletive) me up, it really did. It’s over with, but it still haunts me. I should have never introduced her to him,” she says in an interview, crying. “I should have never introduced my family to him. How dare (he)?”
"On the tape, my niece has the same hairstyle she had when she turned 14. That was her, for sure,” she said about her niece’s presence in the video. “And that was him. Definitely.”
The second woman to identify the underage girl in the tape was Lisa Van Allen, who says she was a victim of Kelly's abusive behavior. Kelly coerced her into having sex with him and the girl who allegedly appeared in the tape, lying to Van Allen and telling her that the other girl was 16, not 14, she said.
“He and I were actually having sex with her. I was unaware of how young she was. She was actually 14," Van Allen said, describing how she was 18 at the time of the encounter.
"When I figured out that I had sex with a 14-year-old, it made me feel betrayed because he lied to me and told me she was 16, which would’ve been close to my age," she continued. "And it also made me question his motives. I mean, the fact that he lied to me about her age told me he obviously knew that wasn’t OK, for her to be younger. It made me feel sick to my stomach. My daughter is older than she is now. We didn’t have sex with (the girl in the video) anymore after I found out she was that much younger.”
One of Kelly's alleged victims says she risked death to steal a video of her, Kelly and the alleged sex tape victim
While filming the “I Wish” music video with Kelly, Van Allen described seeing a bag of tapes Kelly had with him. She says she watched several of them and saw footage of Kelly having sex with different young girls.
“I came across the (tape) one with me, him and the 14-year-old,” she said, describing how the tape contained footage of Kelly urinating on the girl. . "...When I saw it, it upset me, and I didn’t want him to have possession of the tape anymore, because I was in it. So I took it, and I kept it on me, and when I got a chance to go back to my hotel room, I left it at my hotel room. And he never noticed it was gone."
Van Allen said she befriend a few of Kelly's artists and asked them to hold on to the tape for her.
Later, when footage began circulating of Kelly having sex with allegedly underage women, Van Allen went to Kelly and told him she stole the tape.
"I actually ended up contacting Rob and told him I had taken the tape ... I told them they probably wouldn’t just give it back to me, that they would probably need something to give it back," Van Allen said. "And so he arranged for them to be paid to give him back his tape. He had them take lie detector tests, the guy and me. And I passed, and the guy did not, because he said he didn’t make any copies. He ended up giving a little payment for the (original), and said that when he brought the rest back, he’d get the rest of the money. Rob said (the payment would be) $250,000."
“I just didn’t know that there was a point in time when they were talking about killing me," she concluded.
R. Kelly's then-wife, Andrea Kelly, alleged her husband could barely read or write
In Part 1 of "Surviving R. Kelly," the singer's ex-wife Andrea Kelly said she grew close to the man she eventually married by teaching him how to read, a skill he had always struggled with in school.
When Andrea Kelly began learning more about her husband's alleged misdeeds, she realized that a large network of associates assisted him in his crimes, considering the simple fact that he could not read or write well enough to book flights or coordinate travel for the women with whom he was secretly sexually involved.
"I’m not trying to be funny - you don’t read and write well," she said, addressing her ex-husband. "So who’s booking these flights? Who’s telling the driver to go pick people up?"
Andrea Kelly almost miscarried because of the stress
In the final few months of Andrea Kelly's pregnancy with her and R. Kelly's son, Robert Jr., her husband moved her from Chicago to Florida, without explanation. Shortly after Robert Jr.'s birth, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges of child pornography.
“I was under so much stress that when we went to the OBGYN, they couldn’t find his heartbeat," Andrea Kelly said about Robert Jr.'s emergency birth. “I was in that much stress that it put my unborn child’s life in jeopardy. Because here I am, by myself in Florida, I don’t know anybody, I just have my best friend, and they eventually again had to go through 10 people to get (Kelly) on the phone. ‘Mr. Kelly, do you know they just induced your wife’s labor? She just had little Rob.’ (My husband) said he was coming back, but again, I didn't know where he was."
"And I remember, after having (the baby), that’s when the day happened," she continued, describing the day she found out about her husband's indictment while watching TV. "I was (sitting) with the baby, and then it comes across the screen like, ‘R&B singer R. Kelly has been arrested for child pornography.' And I just remember my best friend was with me, and she said she didn’t know what happened, but my body went limp, and she said she caught little Rob before he hit the floor. I remember a buzzing sound, it almost felt like I couldn’t hear.”
Andrea Kelly contemplated suicide after her husband's indictment
Still stuck in Florida, Andrea Kelly reached a breaking point, experiencing suicidal thoughts before eventually packing up and leaving.
"(R. Kelly) denied it for the longest time," she said about her ex-husband's crimes. "I finally realized, it doesn’t get better, it gets worse. I had small children, they were already dealing with their father in the news having a court case dealing with pedophilia and children."
“And I remember going out on the balcony and climbing up on the ledge, like, ‘God, I can’t take another day, I can’t do this anymore,'" she continued. "(My husband) had taken me to a place where I was willing to leave my babies. So I just prayed and asked God for a sign, and something said to get my laptop, and I went to the National Domestic Violence hotline. And there were 17 questions, and there were only two things on that list that Robert hadn’t done to me. And that’s when it became real to me, ‘Andrea, you’re being abused.’”
R. Kelly's brother Bruce slams their other brother Casey for not taking a payoff for his silence
One of the staunchest defenders of R. Kelly over the course of the documentary is his older brother, Bruce Kelly, who conducts his interviews on-camera from an Illinois prison.
“What’s the big issue with my brother?" he said during Part 1 of the documentary. "Me and my brothers, we all have our ways with our girls. We’re very jealous guys. We don’t want them doing certain things. You’re not gonna see our girls talking too much. That’s just the way we are."
During Part 2 of the documentary, Bruce Kelly speaks about a deal that R. Kelly's legal team allegedly offered their younger brother, Carey Kelly, during the trial. According to Bruce Kelly's version of events, R. Kelly's legal team offered Carey Kelly a $100,000 payoff and a recording contract if Carey would agree not to speak negatively about R. Kelly and his alleged crimes, which Carey turned down.
“Robert simply asked Carey to tell the truth, and do a deposition with his attorneys saying that the things that he was saying were not true," Bruce Kelly said. "And (R. Kelly) said, ‘If you do this deposition with my attorneys, I will give you $100,000 and a one-record contract deal. I’ll never understand that as long as I live, (Carey not taking the deal). You could have been rich. I’ll never understand that.”
Sparkle claims she turned down a six-figure sum to make nice with R. Kelly -- and believes her family members were bought off
Sparkle described how R. Kelly and his team tried to bribe her silence as she continued to speak out in support of her niece.
“Robert’s legal team was basically trying to say that I was out for money, or I was bitter," she said. "They offered me upwards of six figures, high in the six figures, for me and Robert to have a sit-down with all the media around us to say that, ‘Sparkle and I are okay, we are kumbaya.’ I didn’t take the money. I had to stand up for my family."
However, her niece who allegedly appeared in the sex tape, as well as her niece's parents, all denied that the young girl was the figure in the video, despite other witnesses that positively identified her during the trial.
Sparkle points to the family's continued relationship with Kelly during and after the trial as proof that the singer may have bought their silence.
“I really don’t know if my family was paid off," she said. "I know the family was still hanging out with him, that my brother-in-law (Greg Landfair) was still playing guitar on a number of his songs. And that’s what it is.”