Lifetime’s haunting Surviving R. Kelly docuseries sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment world last January with bombshell revelations and testimonies from survivors detailing the singer’s alleged history of sexual abuse of minors. The harrowing series played a role in reigniting the Mute R. Kelly movement, and a push to have the R&B singer put behind bars.
Just over a month of investigating later, Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse by the Cook County State Attorney’s Office in Illinois. The R&B singer-songwriter’s world continued to cave in July, when he was hit with another 18 sexual abuse-related charges by federal prosecutors in New York and Illinois. He has since been denied bail with trial set for later this year.
Following the airing of The Impact in May, Lifetime returned with Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning on Thursday (Jan. 2) nearly a year to the day of the original series’ airing. Night one of the 2020 three-part series further examines the fallout since Kelly’s arrest, and features sobering new interviews with survivors, Kelly’s brothers, former team members, Angela Yee, and Damon Dash.
Here are seven takeaways from night one of The Reckoning. Tune into the second night at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime Friday night (Jan. 3). Anybody needing help with issues of such abuse is prompted to call The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE to speak with someone and receive proper treatment.
R. Kelly’s brothers say Robert had multiple sexual abusers as a child
Long before his days as a multi-platinum singer, Robert Kelly was a kid growing up in Chicago. During his childhood, brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly detail how Rob was a victim of sexual abuse. The first predator Bruce describes as being an older man in his 60s, known around their neighborhood as Mr. Henry.
Once Kelly’s mother got wind of what was going on, she reported Henry to the police, who allegedly received a beatdown from men in the neighborhood after they heard what he was doing to kids. Bruce says Henry paid their mother $5,000 to not show up to his court date, so he could escape the molestation charges.
Bruce also brings up a female family member, who they don’t address by name, that repeatedly sexually abused Kelly, as they noticed a stark change in his demeanor. R. Kelly actually admitted to being sexually abused until he was 14 years old on 2018’s 19-minute confessional “I Admit.”
Bruce Kelly says R. Kelly admitted to a pastor that he had a “problem”
R. Kelly has publicly denied all claims of criminal sexual abuse and pedophilia. However, his brother Bruce recalls a time where Robert showed accountability in recognizing that he had a problem that would eventually lead to his downfall. Bruce remembers ushering in a female pastor to the Jacuzzi room of Kells’ mansion, where he heard his brother admitting his problem as a sex addict, which included saying he masturbated to his own sex tapes. Later into Thursday night’s (Jan. 2) airing, Bruce also claims that Robert actually filmed him having a threesome without his permission.
Members of R. Kelly’s team threatened alleged survivors coming forward
A frequent tactic employed by Kelly’s team when victims came forward claiming sexual abuse would be to extort the ladies with nude photos that they threatened to leak to the public. If that wasn’t a success, they would also attempt to pay them off and have the girls sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to rid themselves of the potential lawsuit and bad publicity on the horizon.
One survivor of Kelly’s alleged abuse, Faith Rogers, filed a sexual assault lawsuit claiming he transmitted an STD to her in 2018. She and her parents participated in Lifetime’s docuseries, as they recall plenty of times Kelly’s team tried to intimidate them, including at the Surviving R. Kelly premiere, which was shut down due to a threat.
Faith says she actually gave in to one of the threats, and met with someone claiming to be Kelly’s bodyguard and another woman at a nearby Applebee’s following the NYC premiere. The unnamed woman showed Rogers nude photos of herself and threatened to go public with them if she didn’t back down from speaking out against Kelly. The explicit photos ended up on the “Surviving Lies” Facebook page, made by someone in Kelly’s camp in response to the victims speaking out on Surviving R. Kelly last year.
Journalist Jim DeRogatis, an expert in Kelly’s legal history who has extensively covered the case against him for the past two decades, even recalls his front porch window being shot out in 2001, and receiving a call from an unknown number bringing up his six-year-old daughter.
Dame Dash went to therapy to deal With Aaliyah’s death & abuse
Dame Dash was dating Aaliyah up until her untimely death in 2001, and says they had plans of eventually getting married. Dash explains that Aaliyah remained tight-lipped whenever it came to details about her infamous relationship with R. Kelly.
“She just said he was a bad man, and she left it at that,” he sadly states. “It made her so uncomfortable that I couldn’t know about it, because it would have made me too uncomfortable not to try to rectify that situation. But I just wouldn’t have been able to tolerate knowing certain things and being in the same room as certain people, unless they’re begging me not to. So I had to get therapy over that.”
Aaliyah’s family hasn’t come forward to make any statements regarding the late R&B legend’s time with Kelly.
“Numerous” settlements were reached silently with alleged victims
It’s no secret R. Kelly leveraged his celebrity status and deep pockets to cover-up his criminal trail of pedophilia. Jim DeRogatis says Kelly was part of a “settlement factory” brokered by attorney Susan Loggans to help dispose of potential legal headaches. Whenever Loggans met with a woman saying she had underage sex with Kelly, she sent them to law enforcement to pass a lie detector test. If they did that, then they would move on to reaching a monetary settlement, while having the alleged victim sign an NDA. “I believe there are more than a dozen of those settlements that we don’t know about, because there were not court papers,” DeRogatis says. “Loggans has never given me the number. She has only said ‘numerous,’ with a little bit of a smirk.”
Jive Records employees attempted to stop R. Kelly’s sex tape from spreading to keep their own jobs
Plenty of people in Kelly’s camp, record label employees, and more played a role in enabling the Chicago native’s abusive behavior to continue for decades. Jimmy Maynes, a former SVP of Creative at Jive Records, participated in the docuseries, speaking to how his boss sent him to Chicago to buy up as many of the R. Kelly Triple-X sex tapes from bootleggers as possible. “I remember one of my bosses telling me, ‘Jimmy, don’t get caught up, because if Rob goes down, people are going to get fired,'” he remembers. “I was like, ‘Why? It’s not our fault.’ He said, ‘[R. Kelly] keeps the lights on around here.'”
R. Kelly wanted his younger brother Carey to take the fall for his child pornography case
R. Kelly was arrested in 2002 on 14 counts of child pornography, but thanks to high-profile attorneys, the case wasn’t brought to trial until 2008, where he was acquitted on all charges. While the case was in limbo, Kelly publicly claimed the defense that it was actually his younger brother, Carey, seen in the 27-minute VHS clip. Carey reflects on the time his brother invited him over and made him go in the pool to prove he wasn’t wearing a wire. The R&B singer-songwriter proposed that his sibling confess to being the one in the video, in exchange for a lump sum of cash and lavish gifts, but there wasn’t an amount of money in the world that Carey says he deemed enough to “sell his soul.”