R Kelly, the 51-year-old R&B artist and producer, has recently come back under renewed fire after Lifetime aired a new six-part docu-series called Surviving R. Kelly, which documents alleged abuse to several of Kelly’s ex-girlfriends and romantic partners.
The full Surviving R. Kelly documentary covers Kelly’s life, including his childhood, his rise to fame and his sex scandals. Several big names such as John Legend and Wendy Williams appear in the series, and dozens of women, including Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Lee and former backup singer Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards, are filmed talking about their relationship with Kelly over his career.
However, the series focuses heavily on Kelly’s scandals, abuse accusations and child pornography charges over the years, and many of the women featured in the documentary highlight the abuse they claim to have endured at the hands of the R&B singer.
A new BBC documentary titled R. Kelly: Sex, Girls and Videotapes featured Kelly’s former manager Rocky Bivens, who claimed he was at the 1994 wedding between the singer, then 27, and late R&B star Aaliyah, who was 15 years old at the time. According to the documentary, one of the Kelly’s backup dancers claimed to have seen Kelly having sex with Aaliyah when she was just a teen. Both Kelly and Aaliyah denied that the marriage occurred and even denied that their relationship had ever moved beyond friendship.
Kelly has faced numerous other allegations of being involved with underage girls throughout his long career, the biggest involving a sex tape scandal. In 2002, a sex tape emerged showing Kelly engaging in sexual intercourse and urinating on an underage girl. Shortly after the tape leaked, police raided his home in Davenport, Florida and found 12 images on a digital camera depicting Kelly “involved in sexual conduct with the female minor.”
Kelly was eventually found not guilty of all charges in his child pornography trial, although he has been accused by several young women of continuing to have sex with minors long after the charges were dropped.
Sparkle, an R&B singer and aunt of the unnamed underage girl in the sex tape, introduced Kelly to the alleged victim, a meeting that still “haunts” her, according to an emotional clip from the documentary. “I should never have introduced her to him,” she says in the clip, adding of the sex tape, “I’d hear things but to see it visually, and she was so young, it f–ked me up.”
Sparkle had introduced her niece to Kelly when she was 12-years-old, and the alleged sex tape was recorded two years later, when her niece was 14. She said she began to fear that the relationship was getting out of control once she found out her niece was going to his home and studio alone. Once the tape surfaced in 2002, Sparkle didn’t hesitate to go to the police and name both Kelly and her niece in the video.
To this day, the young girl in the tape has not been identified publicly, although the girl’s best friend from childhood, Simha Jamison, did testify against Kelly during his trial, who recognized her friend in the tapes and identified Kelly as the man in the video.
After Kelly was found not guilty on the child pornography charges, the singer still attempted to salvage his reputation by requesting Sparkle to speak positively on his behalf. She refused, despite Kelly’s offer of a large sum of money.
“Robert’s legal team was basically trying to say that I was out for money and I was bitter,” Sparkle said in the fourth episode of the docu-series. “They offered me upwards of high six figures for me and Robert to have a sit-down with all media around us to say that ‘Robert and I are okay, we’re kumbaya.’ I didn’t take the money because I can’t be bought. I’m gonna stand up for my family.”
Following its two-episode premiere Thursday night, the six-part Surviving R. Kelly documentary resumes Saturday night with the final two episodes of the series – All the Missing Girls” and “Black Girls Matter.” Check out the conclusion of the documentary tonight at 8 p.m. ET.