In “Surviving R. Kelly,” a six-part documentary that aired last January, viewers came face-to-face with the women who said the R&B singer controlled them, abused them and assaulted them — in many cases, while they were underage.
And with that, a quarter century of allegations against the singer R. Kelly started to catch up with him. Prompted by the documentary, the authorities renewed their interest in him, and now Mr. Kelly, 52, is in custody facing a stack of federal and state charges including sexual assault, obstruction of justice and child pornography.
This past week, Lifetime broadcast a follow-up series, “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” a five-part documentary aired over three nights, that looked at the toll taken on the women who came forward, and provided some new details about Mr. Kelly’s life and his treatment of women.
Mr. Kelly, whose full name is Robert Kelly, has denied the allegations against him. A disclaimer in the series said that his lawyer claimed that Mr. Kelly had evidence that would demonstrate his innocence but that he could not share it because of the ongoing court cases. The lawyer also said Mr. Kelly’s accusers were simply trying to cash in on the attention.
Here’s a look at what’s in “The Reckoning,” which completed airing Saturday night and is available for streaming on Lifetime’s website.
Episode One: Threats
“Part II: The Reckoning” begins with a series of women, all of whom have accused Mr. Kelly of abuse, each sitting alone in front of the camera. One woman is Tiffany Hawkins, the first to sue Mr. Kelly alleging he had sex with her when she was a minor. She said she was 15 when the sexual contact began in 1991.
“I was the first girl, and nobody believed me,” Ms. Hawkins said. “And after that it continued to happen, again and again and again.”
Episode one detailed the threats and harassment that rained down upon the women who spoke out in the original documentary. The parents of one young woman, Faith Rodgers, said they had to move out of fear for their safety. A Kelly associate had threatened to release a compromising video of Ms. Rodgers with Mr. Kelly, and she had a seizure from the stress. Another woman, Jerhonda Pace, said strangers, presumably Mr. Kelly’s fans, threatened to beat her up in a parking lot when she was with her children.
Mr. Kelly’s brothers discussed their childhood in Chicago, including how Mr. Kelly was sexually abused by a family member and a family acquaintance.
Episode Two: The “Cable Girl”
In episode two, Ms. Hawkins shares her story on camera for the first time. Mr. Kelly used to call her the “cable girl,” because she hooked him up: She connected him to other young girls whom he had sex with, she said, and all of them were between the ages of 14 and 16. He was 25 at the time. Eventually, Mr. Kelly began having sex with her, too.
She later sued him and settled for $250,000. As part of the settlement, she signed a nondisclosure agreement, the first in a series of confidentiality agreements with women that would keep his conduct a secret, and allowed it to continue.
On Thursday night, audiences were also introduced to some of Mr. Kelly’s former employees, including Lindsey Perryman-Dunn. She said that she did not believe the waves of allegations against him, even though she had seen the videotape at the center of his 2008 child pornography trial and believed it showed him having sex with an underage girl.
One of Mr. Kelly’s brothers, Carey Kelly, said Mr. Kelly had offered him a car, a record deal and $50,000 to say that it was Carey Kelly on the tape. He refused.
Episode Three: A Futile Call to the Police
Much of this episode is devoted to the story of Lanita Carter, who describes another kind of damaging experience with Mr. Kelly. Ms. Carter, who was 24 when she met him, worked as his hair braider. She was expected to be on call for him at all hours and although he didn’t pay her much, being able to say that she did hair for a celebrity increased her business.
One day, she said, Mr. Kelly assaulted her. He demanded that she perform oral sex, then he spit on her and ejaculated on her face.
Ms. Carter called the police. Tears streaming down her face, she described the ordeal that followed as agonizing: She said that the police acted as though they didn’t believe her, and that the authorities eventually decided not to bring criminal charges. She said that she never wanted to sue Mr. Kelly, but out of options, she succumbed to the pressure to sue and settle. She, too, signed a nondisclosure agreement, which she was breaking by talking about her experience. (Ms. Carter spoke to “CBS This Morning” last year, and revealed then that she had received two settlements totaling $750,000 from Mr. Kelly.)
“He told me he was my big brother,” she said. “Then it was like he crushed my life.”
Last year, after “Surviving R. Kelly” aired, prosecutors took another look at Ms. Carter’s account and deemed it credible, citing it when they charged him with sexually assaulting several women.
Episode Four: “I Didn’t Want to Live”
Here, we meet Dominique Gardner, whose mother’s attempts to extract her from Mr. Kelly’s orbit was a significant theme in the original series.
Ms. Gardner, who was seen but not interviewed in “Surviving R. Kelly,” said in episode four that she was with the singer for nine years. During that time he controlled when she ate and went to the bathroom, whom she could speak with and where she could go, she and her mother, Michelle Kramer, said. In the original series, Ms. Kramer finds her daughter in a Los Angeles hotel and persuades Ms. Gardner to leave Mr. Kelly. She returned to him three days later, and then finally left for good.
Ms. Gardner and Ms. Kramer describe him as not only enormously controlling but also physically abusive. Ms. Kramer said that Mr. Kelly would beat Ms. Gardner with extension cords, belts, shoes and “whatever you could think of.” Once when Ms. Gardner didn’t come over to Mr. Kelly when he beckoned at a party, he pulled her hair out, she said. Mr. Kelly left her on a tour bus for three days without food or water — an assistant sneaked her some, her mother said. Ms. Gardner said the longest she was ever locked away by herself was for a week and a half.
“It felt lonely, sad,” she said. “It was like I didn’t want to live anymore. It was just — dark.”
Jerhonda Pace, who met Mr. Kelly at age 15 when she came to support him at his 2008 trial and eventually entered a relationship with him that lasted several months, said that he had asked her to enter a suicide pact. She said she was so emotionally beholden to him at the time that she agreed.
“If he was to go to jail or someone was to harm him, I was supposed to kill myself,” she said, through tears. “He told me that if I was everything to him, like I say he is, there would be no life worth living.”
Episode Five: Parents’ Distress
The final chapter of “The Reckoning” focused on the two young women, Joycelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, who remained with Mr. Kelly while the documentary was made.
They missed family events, like a high school graduation and a grandfather’s funeral. Their parents and siblings hadn’t seen them in years and couldn’t communicate with them. In long interviews, their parents describe their efforts to bring their children home and the toll it has taken.
Ms. Clary’s mother and her brother, Armani, attended an R. Kelly concert in Tampa, Fla., hoping to see Ms. Clary. And she was there, onstage. Her mother rushed onto the stage to her daughter, before being pulled away by security in a headlock and passed to the police. Armani was also taken away in a police car.
Neither of the young women sat down for interviews with the filmmakers, but last year, they told Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” that despite their parents’ claims that they had been brainwashed, they were both happily and willingly living with Mr. Kelly.
In the final moments of the series, words flashed across the screen saying that as of December 2019, Ms. Clary had moved out of Mr. Kelly’s apartment in Chicago’s Trump Tower. She continues to support him as he prepares to stand trial, it said.
Ms. Savage is still with him.
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