Things That Matter

Victim In The R. Kelly Documentary Sequel Says He Made Her Commit To A Suicide Pact

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, people all over the country have found the courage to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault. This sense of empowerment has taken various forms, even resulting in the release of several shocking docuseries, like HBO’s Leaving Neverland and Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly. While Leaving Neverland consisted of just two harrowing episodes, Surviving R. Kelly offers a broad glimpse into the singer’s criminal past, spanning three separate installments of six troubling episodes.

The second season, Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning, is set to premiere on January 2, 2020, and the trailer is full of deeply disturbing details.

Credit: Lifetime / Youtube

The trailer for the new season not only introduces new victims, but follows up with victims from Part I. Many of the women and their family members describe death threats they received after the release of Part I, as well as how they’ve managed to cope with the backlash. The four-minute video features victim Jerhonda Pace, who alleges that she was a part of a forced suicide pact of women who pledged to kill themselves if R. Kelly were to ever end up in prison. And the trailer ends with Dominique Gardner, R. Kelly’s live-in girlfriend who was rescued in Part I, who is ready to share her story.

During its debut in February of this year, Surviving R. Kelly had more than 26 million viewers and was the #1 trending topic on Twitter. Allegations against him have circulated since 1991, so talk about R. Kelly’s predatory behavior is nothing new—the difference now is that the world is finally taking his victims seriously. The Lifetime documentary has much to do with this paradigm shift: featuring accounts from 48 different women who were victimized by R. Kelly over the course of several decades, the documentary offers undeniable evidence that R. Kelly has been a dangerous force in the industry for far too long.

One of the most notable red flags of R. Kelly’s career appeared when he married the late singer Aaliyah. At the time, she was just 15 years old, and the world had to wonder: how did that happen? In the US, it is illegal to marry anyone under the age of 18 without a parent’s consent, and even then, 15 years old is still legally considered too young—plus, Aaliyah’s family absolutely did not consent to the marriage. It took until last month, 25 years later, for R. Kelly to be prosecuted for bribing an Illinois government employee on August 30, 1994, to obtain a fake ID that claimed Aaliyah was 18.

Although their marriage was later annulled at the request of Aaliyah’s family, Kelly’s behavior signaled a pattern of sexually exploiting underage girls that would persist over the next 20 years.

Credit: The Source

And the entertainment industry would turn a blind eye to Kelly’s influence for just as long. Until the release of Surviving R. Kelly, his behavior was often the subject of jokes and pop culture references, rather than being seen as a serious threat to the safety of several dozen women and girls. In 2002, when that famous video of him sexually engaging with (and urinating on) an underage girl came to light, he was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography—yet none of these charges resulted in convictions. Really, R. Kelly’s misconduct has never been a secret, but Surviving R. Kelly has led to justice for his victims, with a long list of criminal charges finally culminating in his arrest.

Yet R. Kelly has vehemently denied these allegations of abuse and manipulation. In case you missed it, he became emotionally unhinged during an interview with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning,” raising his voice, pounding his chest and crying when King challenges his claims. When asked why he chose to participate in the interview, he said, “I’m very tired of all the lies,” and insisted that he had “absolutely not” broken any laws when it “came to relationships with girls.” He claimed that everyone in the documentary “was describing Lucifer,” and that he “is not Lucifer,” before unleashing an explosive rant about what a good heart he has and insisting on his innocence.

“I have been assassinated,” he told King. “I’ve been buried alive.”

A conversation about R. Kelly’s attempt to convince viewers of his innocence emerged shortly after the interview aired, with Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham telling CBS News that in the interview, R. Kelly “came off as someone trying to manipulate the audience the way he has allegedly manipulated these women.” The second season of Surviving R. Kelly will focus more on this perspective, not only featuring new women with new allegations, but also psychologists, cultural experts and legal experts who might be able to offer insight on R. Kelly’s skewed perspective and the criminal consequences that await him.

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