R Kelly’s life, career and scandals are featured extensively in Lifetime’s new docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which aired Thursday night and continues through Saturday.
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.
Below is a list of many of the abuse victims and survivors featured on the documentary that claimed to have endured Kelly’s abusive behavior over the years.
Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer who met R. Kelly at Kenwood Academy High School, claims Kelly often picked up young girls at the school. In the first episode of the documentary, Cunningham said Kelly invited her to hang out at his studio after school when she was only 14-years-old. She also claims that, over the course of their relationship, she witnessed Kelly have sex with multiple underage girls in the studio.
She also claims to have seen Kelly having sex with young R&B star Aaliyah Haughton who died in a plane crash in 2001. Cunningham says the incident occurred on a tour bus in the 1990s.
Former singer Lizzette Martinez met Kelly at a mall when she was 17-years-old, and says that Kelly invited her back to his studio with the promise that he would “make her a star” and help her further her music career. Martinez also recalls the first time the singer abused her, claiming that Kelly smacked her in the face after he caught her looking at another man at a party.
Andrea Kelly (Formerly Andrea Lee)
Andrea Kelly, formerly Andrea Lee, is Kelly’s ex-wife. The two met when Lee auditioned to become a backup dancer for Kelly, and married shortly after. Lee is the mother to Kelly’s three children, and claims that Kelly had a significant “dark side” that he kept hidden from the public. She says that Kelly is a “control freak” that repeatedly tortured and abused her throughout their relationship, claiming he assaulted her in the back of his Hummer and left her “hogtied in bed” several times. She also says that Kelly was extremely controlling over what she could wear, when she could speak and to whom she could speak with.
Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards
Stephanie Edwards, who is known by her stage name “Sparkles,” was a backup singer for Kelly for several years. Sparkles says that Kelly wouldn’t allow anybody to speak to her, and that he was very controlling. Sparkles is responsible for turning Kelly in to authorities after identifying him in the infamous sex tape that led to Kelly’s child pornography charges. The 14-year-old girl involved in the tape was Sparkle’s niece. She says that she once overheard Kelly’s wife Lee ask Kelly if it was “okay to eat.”
Michelle Kramer, whose daughter was involved with Kelly for nine years, is the mother of a girl involved with Kelly. Kramer and her husband claim that Kelly kept their daughter Dominique Gardner from seeing her family for years. An emotional clip of Kramer shows her trying desperately to locate her daughter and bring her home. Kramer blames Kelly for keeping her family apart, saying that “any man that don’t let a mother see they child, or a child see they mother and she’s still living? He ain’t got no heart.”
Lisa Van Allen
Another former backup singer of Kelly’s, Lisa Van Allen met Kelly at the age of 17 on the video set of “Home Alone” with Keith Murray in 1998. Van Allen says that she engaged in multiple threesomes with several underage girls over the course of their relationship, including a girl who Val Allen alleges was only 14. She says that Kelly didn’t allow her to interact with anybody (similar to what Sparkles claims) and that he tracked her phone calls and who she had contact with.
Jerhonda Pace was in a relationship with Kelly when she was just 16-years-old. She told The Root in an interview in early December that arguments with Kelly would become extremely “heated,” and if she told him she didn’t want to do something he would get upset. Pace told The Root that overtime, their arguments progressed from yelling to slapping, and that he abused several times. She has spoken out about Kelly’s abuse for years, and has been featured on shows such as The Real Daytime, detailing how Kelly had “silenced” her throughout the years with cash settlements in return for signing nondisclosure agreements.
Kitti Jones is another ex-girlfriend of Kelly’s, and told The Root that she decided to share her story because she felt that her silence was allowing Kelly’s arrogance to grow, and enabling him to continue to victimize other women. She told The Root that while the two were dating, Kelly was extremely controlling; he would constantly tell her that she “shouldn’t wear that,” ask her who she spoke to throughout the day, and tell her that she wasn’t allowed to “look guys in the eye or speak to them.” She was also told she had to look down or turn away if somebody spoke to her.
Faith Rodgers claims that Kelly gave her herpes, and attempted to sue the singer for sexual battery in March of 2018. Rodgers says she was in a relationship with Kelly when she was 19 for nearly a year before she left him. During that time she says Kelly instructed her to call him “daddy” and would lock her up for hours at a time. Rodgers also says he even introduced her to one of the five women Kelly allegedly said he was “raising,” according to CBS News. She says she “submitted” to having sex with Kelly, although she didn’t want to, and says that Kelly recorded it on his iPad without her consent.
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.