Lanita Carter is a former hairdresser for R. Kelly who accused the singer of sexual assault, and came out publicly about the experience in March 2019. She is one of four alleged victims whose accusations led to Kelly’s arrest in February 2019; the three other victims have chosen to remain anonymous thus far.
To CBS, Carter said of her decision to go public, “This is a release.” She added, “I’ve been carryin’ this since 2003. I don’t want to be in the public. But this is my life… If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Carter Was 24 Years Old at the Time of the Alleged 2003 Assault
In her first public interview since coming out as one of the four alleged Kelly victims, Carter said she had been working as Kelly’s hairdresser for over a year before he assaulted her. She was 24 years old at the time, and kept the secret for over 16 years.
In the CBS interview, Carter relayed the experience [GRAPHIC]:
“I get a phone call to come down and do his hair… When he came to the room and he asked me for that head massage, and I told him I didn’t do massages, I laughed it off. And I didn’t know he was for real. If I could change that day – I wouldn’t have been there. He pulled my braid down by him. And he say, ‘Suck it for daddy, suck it for daddy.’ And I said, ‘No.’ And I did like this. And he just started going, [spitting noises]. He did it, like, six times.
Carter said Kelly stopped after he heard a knock on the door. She continued,
“He didn’t open the door right away. He says, ‘Fix your face! Fix your motherf***ing face!’ I knew that it’ll be my last day there… And I get to the bathroom, and I grabbed a wall, and it was a rose-colored towel… I wiped my face… I’m not dressed no type of way. I look at myself in the mirror, like, I’m not a beauty queen. I didn’t perceive myself to be nothing more than just his hair braider.
And I was kept thinking to myself, like, ‘Why did this happen to me?'”
2. Carter Defended Kelly in 2002 When He Was Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
A year prior to the alleged incident, Carter says she defended Kelly when he was arrested on child pornography charges. She told CBS she would often describe Kelly as a “perfect gentleman,” even.
She said, “I would tell people, ‘Pray for him. Pray for him. I do his hair. He is nothing like what they say.’ ”
In Surviving R. Kelly, Part II, Carter explained how her social status was elevated when she worked for Kelly. “I gained the respect of many people for doing his hair,” she said. “My family, they let me finish sentences when normally they didn’t really care what I had to say.”
Kelly was a brother, she said. That was how she thought of him prior to the incident.
3. Carter Says She Received a Cumulative $750,000 in Settlements From Kelly
After the incident, Carter says she went to the police that same day, and gave them her clothing, which had DNA evidence of Kelly in the form of semen on her shirt. However, no charges were filed in her case. When asked why she thought that was, she said, “Celebrities are powerful. Celebrities have support systems. I have no support system outside of my immediate family.”
Ten months after the alleged assault, Carter said she received a $650,000 settlement from Kelly, in which he denied any wrongdoing and she agreed to say nothing about the incident.
Then, in 2009, Kelly released a song that included lyrics about having sex with a hairdresser. Carter received another $100,000 settlement for that song, she says, in which Kelly agreed not to sing it anymore or include it in any future albums, but again denied any wrongful conduct.
For those wondering why Carter decided to break the nondisclosure agreement, she said, in Surviving R. Kelly, Part II, “Money does not cover up what you feel.”
4. Carter Decided to Go Public After Watching an Interview Kelly Gave to Gayle King
After 16 years of silence, Carter said she decided to go public with her identity after watching the response to Surviving R. Kelly, Part I. Following the release of that docuseries, Kimberly Fox, the Cook County state’s attorney, released a plea for any other victims to come forward and call her office.
Carter said to CBS, “I would be going on with my day, you turn on the news, here’s another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim. And you just – you just want to be there for them.” Then she watched Kelly’s interview with Gayle King in March 2019, she said, and that was the final straw.
“It’s actually the reason that I’m here,” she said, explaining that she couldn’t believe what he said in the interview about his apparent innocence.
5. Carter Was Initially Represented by Michael Avenatti; He Was Charged With Several Federal Crimes a Day After Her CBS Interview
As of March 2019, Carter was represented by high-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is also known for his representation of adult film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against Donald Trump. However, a day after Carter gave her first public interview, Avenatti was charged with embezzlement, extortion, and other federal crimes. It’s not clear if Carter is still represented by Avenatti or not.
What’s more, Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, alleged in a statement to TMZ that Avenatti had pressured Carter to speak out publicly. Carter has not acknowledged this statement.