Chicago — The release of the infamous sex tape that led to R Kelly’s arrest on charges of child pornography is the focus of the second chapter of the three-part docuseries Surviving R Kelly airing on Friday night.
It includes interviews with a number of the women who were involved in the scandal, including the person who stole the videotape from Kelly’s library and got it in the hands of a Chicago journalist.
That was Lisa Van Allen, who was just 17 and believed that she was Kelly’s girlfriend at the time due to the fact that she spent all her time with him and they were having a sexual relationship.
She was one of the few victims to break free from Kelly on her own terms, and says in the episode that she started seeing the singer in a different light after he convinced her to have a threesome with another girl but did not reveal her actual age.
It was that same girl, who was just 14, that Kelly could be seen with on the tape Allen claimed to have lifted from his library.
Allen struggles to maintain her composure while recalling the events, and at one point suddenly shuts down and begins to silently cry.
She then says: “I just didn’t know there was a point in time they were talking about killing me.”
It was Stephanie Edwards, better known as Sparkle, who first introduced Kelly to the young victim — who was also her niece.
She reveals how over time she went from surprised to concerned and eventually disgusted at the relationship between the singer and the young teen.
That is why she decided to speak out against the singer and testify during his trial when others remained silent.
She event turned down an offer in the high-six figures to film herself calling a truce with Kelly, saying she cannot be bought.
At the trial, which took place in 2008, Sparkle testified under oath that the video, filmed in 2000, showed Kelly and her niece.
Allen very bravely did the same during the proceedings, which kicked off with jurors watching the tape in its entirety.
In the end, Kelly was acquitted by a jury of his peers.
And after dodging jail time Kelly’s next move was to bed a 14-year-old high school freshman who had been camping outside the courthouse to see the singer.
She too shares her story on the third and fourth episodes of the docuseries on Friday.
The series premiered Thursday on Lifetime and sheds new light on charges against the artist, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
The team behind Surviving R Kelly held dozens of interviews filmed with members of the singer’s inner circle.
In the documentary, backup singers detailed sexual relations between R Kelly and three girls under the age of 16, including 15-year-old star Aaliyah, who died in 2001 in a plane crash.
The allegations are subject to criminal prosecution in several US states including Illinois, where R Kelly lived as a resident of Chicago.
Aaliyah’s mother Diane Haughton called the allegations “fabrications” and accused the witnesses of being “saboteurs of Aaliyah’s legacy.”
In the documentary, women portray R Kelly as manipulative, violent and focused on young girls, allegedly demanding they call him “daddy”.
Lizzette Martinez, who met the artist at age 17 as he was approaching his 30s, says she was a victim of “mental and physical abuse” during their relationship, which lasted several years.
“He stole my life from me being abused like this,” she says in the documentary directed by filmmaker Dream Hampton.
“I don’t think he understands girls that are young how impressionable we are and how traumatic these experiences are”.
She then adds: “They change you forever”.
Few celebrities participated in the documentary, despite the willingness of many to record with the artist in the wake of his child pornography trial.
John Legend is the rare exception, stepping up whereas others like Jay Z and Lady Gaga declined to participate.