Singer and backup dancer Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, doesn’t regret identifying R&B artist R. Kelly as the man involved with an underage girl in a 2002 leaked sex tape, according to the Chicago Tribune. The sex tape involved Sparkle’s underage niece, whom she had introduced to Kelly when she was just 12-years-old.
In light of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, where Sparkle is one of about 50 people who came forward to discuss their relationships with Kelly, Sparkle told the Tribune that, although she doesn’t regret identifying Kelly and the underage relative who was involved in the infamous “pee tape,” she did hesitate before agreeing to interview for the docu-series highlighting the tape and the subsequent child pornography case that followed.
“This particular piece spoke to me only because one of the executive producers, Dream Hampton, reached out to me via text and phone calls some months prior. I initially told her no because I didn’t want to dredge up that crap and put my family in that space again,” Edwards said in a phone interview with the Tribune.
Sparkle continued: “She stated something that was really moving to myself and management that she wanted to celebrate me, if you will, because I was the only one who came forward and stood up to (Kelly and his team) in a timely fashion. I didn’t see something and then not speak up. I saw it, I reacted, right there.”
In a clip of her interview on Surviving R. Kelly (see above), Sparkle talks about Kelly’s insistence that nobody speak to her while she worked with him, just one of many accusations of abuse by the women surrounding Kelly throughout his career.
“Robert (R. Kelly) didn’t allow pretty much anybody to speak to me,” she says in the clip. “I’m just walking around like ‘hey everybody, hey,’ and then I’m like ‘what’s going on, why aren’t these people speaking back?’ Come to find out, they couldn’t speak to me. He wouldn’t let them.”
She continues, saying that she didn’t care whether or not he would “allow” people to talk to her or not, and that she wasn’t going to allow him to control her.
“That’s not me. I’m going to speak to everybody and anybody and whoever I want to speak to,” she says in the clip above. “So, when I learned that, I would go out of my way to speak to people, just to tick him off. Because I was like, ‘look, you can’t tell me what I can and cannot do.’ I’m not that girl. I’m not that chick. You can’t stifle me.”
Sparkle, an R&B singer and aunt of the 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. Shortly after, 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.” He was brought up on charges of child pornography.
Kelly was eventually found not guilty of all charges in his child pornography trial, but, according to Sparkle, 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 Friday night with two more episodes – “Sex Tape Scandal” and “The People vs. R. Kelly.” The docu-series will conclude on Saturday, January 5th.