Sparkle knows what it’s like to be on the outs with her family because of R. Kelly. Now, the singer fears she may be there again if she decides to testify against her former mentor should he go to trial over allegations that he videotaped himself having sex with an underage girl. “I hope they don’t need me,” she tells the New York Times about possibly being called to testify. “But I have to. I have to see this through.”
Unlike many in the embattled R&B singer’s inner orbit, Sparkle (born Stephanie Edwards), was one of the few to testify against Kelly, 52, during his trail on child pornography charges, which ended in Kelly’s acquittal in 2008. Now, thanks to her appearance in the recent Surviving R. Kelly Lifetime docuseries about the singer’s alleged sexual abuse and misconduct with women and underage girls — allegations the singer has repeatedly denied — Sparkle says one of her sisters told her to leave the family alone.
Though Kelly once helped promote Sparkle’s career by producing her self-titled 1998 debut album, the two had a falling-out in 2002 after Kelly was arrested on child pornography charges tied to a widely-circulated-on-the-underground video in which the singer is allegedly seen having sex with and urinating on a teenager. At Kelly’s trial in 2008, Sparkle testified that it was Kelly in the video and that the girl was her 14 year-old niece, who’m she had introduced to the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer in the hopes that he could help boost the teens dream of being a singer as well.
With Kelly possibly facing trail on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse tied to allegations tied to four victims — including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17 — Sparkle has been told she might be called to testify again, which could lead to more years of exile from some members of her family who cut her off after her testimony in the first trial.
Though she was initially excited to work with Kelly, Sparkle says their relationship soured during session for her second album when “he was trying to now be really controlling, and I saw it now,” she says. “You’re not going to do that with me.” A number of women have alleged that Kelly is the leader of a “sex cult,” in which he holds a number of young women under his sway, keeping strict tabs on when they eat, sleep and go to the bathroom, as well as who they speak with and how they dress.
A Kelly trial could be years away, but Sparkle says she’s seen the new sex tape that could be the most crucial piece of evidence in the upcoming court battle, describing it as a “different recording of the same people,” referring to what prosecutors claimed were Kelly and Sparkle’s then-14 year-old niece.
A spokesperson for Kelly could not be reached for comment at press time.