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‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Documentary on Lifetime Details Sex Abuse Accusations

R. Kelly has consistently denied allegations of sexual misconduct with women and young teenagers, even as he has settled lawsuits.CreditCreditScott Legato/Getty Imagesption
5 minute read. 

For more than two decades, the R&B singer Robert Kelly, who performs as R. Kelly, has faced accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse.

This week, a six-part documentary on Lifetime is taking an expansive look at the allegations against Mr. Kelly, a chart-topping artist whose history has invited extra scrutiny in recent years.

The series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” includes testimony from several women who accuse the singer of abuse, as well as commentary from Mr. Kelly’s critics, including the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, and the singer John Legend.

The six episodes, each an hour long, cover the long history of allegations against Mr. Kelly. They feature women who described being controlled or abused by him, often when they were teenagers, as well as associates and relatives of the singer.

Mr. Kelly has continuously denied the allegations against him.

The documentary has become the subject of widespread attention and fierce debate on social media, with many expressing gratitude to the women who continue to tell their stories.

“I wish that he would experience a kind of social death, and that people who still vociferously declare him innocent — or their favorite artist, or worthy of having his work separated from who he is — that they are denied that,” said dream hampton, an executive producer of the documentary.

The six parts of the series were scheduled over three days of broadcast, from Thursday through Saturday. The third and fourth episodes focused on Mr. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial and the sex tape at its center. The fifth and sixth episodes examine more recent allegations and follow parents who were trying to free their daughters from Mr. Kelly’s influence, Ms. hampton said.

While some fans of Mr. Kelly still defend him, many critics say that he has escaped the consequences of his actions for far too long.

“No one cared because we were black girls,” the writer Mikki Kendall said in the documentary.

[Here is a timeline of the accusations against Mr. Kelly.]

Ms. hampton agreed that race was an integral part of this story. She added that black boys and girls in the United States are often perceived as older than they are, and referenced Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland in 2014.

“We know black boys are perceived to be older than they are by police, and we absolutely do an equivalent thing to black girls,” Ms. hampton said in an interview Friday. “We perceive them to be more sexual at an early age. We perceive them to be older. And that is rooted — there is no other way to say it, and it’s not hyperbole to say — it’s absolutely rooted in this country’s history of slavery, which has gone on longer than it hasn’t.”

Mr. Kelly was still featured as an artist on the RCA website on Saturday. The label did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative for Sony Music, which oversees RCA Records, declined to comment. Mr. Kelly’s management also declined to comment.

His team has previously said it would “vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.” Mr. Kelly is not currently facing criminal charges.

In 1994, when Mr. Kelly was 27, he married Aaliyah Haughton, who was 15 but was listed as 18 on a wedding certificate, according to Vibe Magazine. The marriage was annulled in 1995. Ms. Haughton, who was a popular singer in her own right, died in a plane crash in 2001.

Mr. Kelly was accused of having sex with a teenager in a lawsuit in 1996, and again in 2001. Both lawsuits were settled, but the music critic Jim DeRogatis, who reported on them, continued to investigate the accusations against Mr. Kelly.

The singer Aaliyah, seen here in 2000, was reportedly married to Mr. Kelly in 1994, when he was 27 and she was 15.CreditGeorge De Sota/Liaison, via Hulton Archive

[Here is a New York Times Popcast interview with Mr. DeRogatis.]

In the documentary, people who knew R. Kelly claim that during the 1990s and 2000s, associates of the famous singer knew that he liked to prey on underage girls.

In 2002, a video that appeared to show Mr. Kelly having sex with a teenage girl and urinating in her mouth was sent to Mr. DeRogatis at The Chicago Sun-Times, which reported that the footage was being investigated by the Chicago police.

Later that year, Mr. Kelly was indicted by a grand jury in Chicago for child pornography. He pleaded not guilty, and for more than five years his case did not make it to trial. During that time he released albums including “Chocolate Factory,” which contained the chart-topping song “Ignition (Remix).”

Arguments in the 2008 trial centered on whether the man shown in the video was indeed Mr. Kelly, and whether the girl’s identity or her age could be verified. The jury decided that the girl, who did not testify, could not be identified, and Mr. Kelly was found not guilty.

In the documentary, one juror was asked about the women who had said, during the trial, that they also were victimized by Mr. Kelly when they were young. “I just didn’t believe them, the women,” the juror answered. “I know it sounds ridiculous. The way they dress, the way they act — I didn’t like them.”

R. Kelly waved to fans while being escorted from Cook County Court in Chicago in 2002.Credit – Charles Bennett/Associated Press

For years after the trial, Mr. Kelly continued to perform. In 2017, an article by Mr. DeRogatis in BuzzFeed News reported on allegations that the singer was controlling several young women by taking away their phones and limiting contact with their families. That same year, a campaign of protests, in person and on social media under the hashtag #MuteRKelly, began to pick up steam. In 2018, Spotify announced that it would remove Mr. Kelly from its official playlists, though his music would remain on the streaming platform.

A screening of the Lifetime documentary in Manhattan last month was called off after anonymous threats were called in to the venue, CNN reported.

The documentary’s producers include Ms. hampton, Tamra Simmons, Brie Miranda Bryant, Joel Karsberg and Jesse Daniels, according to Lifetime.

Some of the people featured in the documentary, including Mr. Legendand the columnist Jamilah Lemieux, have pointed people to organizations like A Long Walk Home, a Chicago-based nonprofit working to end violence against girls and women; and Girls for Gender Equity, a nonprofit that has created a guide for viewers of the documentary, including those who are survivors of sexual assault.

Joe Coscarelli contributed reporting.

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CURRENT AFFAIRS Opinion

I’m Zimbabwe, and I’m in an abusive relationship with Zanu PF

by Thandekile Moyo | @mamoxn 
5 minute read

MY name is Zimbabwe and I am in an abusive relationship with Zanu PF.

Domestic abuse is defined as “chronic mistreatment in marriages, families, dating and other intimate relationships”.

In 1979, a woman named Lenore E. Walker developed a social theory known as the cycle of abuse which explains patterns of behavior found in abusive relationships. Initially, it was called the battered women syndrome as in her study Lenore had only interviewed women who had been subject to domestic violence. Further study has shown this cycle applies in most cases of abuse regardless of whether it is men abusing women, women abusing men, men abusing other men or women on women abuse.

What she discovered is that abuse follows a certain pattern that becomes a cycle repeated over and over again until it is broken by either the abused person leaving, intervention from a third party and in some cases, death.

I have examined my relationship with Zanu PF and I have no doubt the relationship we have fits the cycle of abuse to the tee. The cycle has been modified over the years but basically has the following phases that are repeated over and over again over long periods of time.

* Honeymoon phase
* Tension building phase
* Explosive phase
* Reconciliation or calm phase

I started dating Zanu PF in 1980 after he saved me from Rhodesia, another abuser I will not dwell much on. To win my affections Zanu PF fought Rhodesia to the bitter end and drove them almost completely out of my life. I remember my independence from Rhodesia like it was yesterday. We marked it with massive celebrations that lasted late into the night. Zanu PF was my knight in shining amour. He offered me a sense of security and I felt he loved me dearly. This was undoubtedly our first honeymoon phase.

About a year later, Zanu PF accused me of infidelity. He’s a jealous man you see. He thought I wanted to leave him for ZAPU and went into a raging fit. I tried everything to convince him he was seeing things. He then told me he knew ZAPU was hiding arms caches which they wanted to use to destroy him, so as to take me from him. He made wild accusations and told me I was hiding ZAPU and did not love him. He then withdrew all his love and threatened to wipe out my family. This was the first tension building phase.

The first explosive phase came unexpectedly. There was nothing I could have done to stop it. Under the #Gukurahundi code name, Zanu PF killed thousands of people accusing them of hiding ZAPU. I have never known such fear in my life. I couldn’t believe he was capable of such. He said I had pushed him to do it. I made him kill them. I would weep day and night because of the pain he caused me. I told his family but they didn’t believe me. I found myself thinking it would be better to leave him and told him so.

When he realised I was about to leave his change was “catapultic”. He apologised profusely and promised he would never do it again. On the 22nd of December 1987, he and my father signed a unity accord. He agreed to go for counselling. Said he loved me, couldn’t imagine a life without me and therefore asked me to stay. He promised there would be no more violence. Some say my father only agreed so that the killings of my people back home would stop. I don’t know. Typical of abusers, after that Zanu PF chose to completely ignore the incident. This marked our first reconciliation phase.

The next few years were relatively calm. I can safely say we went back to the honeymoon phase. We all got along great and he was the man I had fallen in love with once again. Some of my relatives still hated him for the earlier incidents but to be honest I simply tried to forget about the incident. Although through it all I watched what I said, was on my best behaviour and tried not to provoke him.

In 1999, the MDC came on the scene and the tensions yet again began. MDC continued trying to woo me and in 2008 I decided to give him a chance. This led to another explosive phase where Zanu PF tortured and murdered my cousins and other relatives whom he accused of encouraging me to leave him. He beat us all into submission until we agreed to another unity accord. He decided to give MDC a few rights to me, what they called a power sharing deal.

We entered another calm phase and in 2013 I forgave him completely and broke all ties with MDC. We were back to the honeymoon phase which ended with another jealous rage on August 1, 2018. Since then we have been in the reconciliation phase. He is up to his usual tricks, has asked neighbours to come and help him wash his hands of the blood of August 1. He’s promising me the world again and claiming he has changed for the better. He is a new man, he says, and calls this the “new dispensation” of our marriage. I do not know what to make of it.

A few days ago he called in my brother Zenzele Ndebele for questioning because he intends to show a documentary of Gukurahundi, an era he refuses to acknowledge at all. He also sent his police force to arrest my friends in town, the vendors, who retaliated with surprising violence. Through all this my beloved Zanu PF takes no responsibility for his actions. ZAPU pushed him into Gukurahundi. He denies 2008 killings ever happened. He says MDC incited the August 1 army killings. He has never admitted to any wrong-doing. He says the vendors provoked him so he had no choice but to beat them up. He says he is as soft as wool.

Thomas L. Cory in the Healthscope magazine says by definition, a toxic relationship is one characterised by behaviours on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently physically damaging to their partner. He says a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A toxic relationship is not a safe place. It is characterised by self centredness, insecurity, dominance, control and we risk our very being by staying in such a relationship.

I am in a toxic relationship with Zanu PF and I know not what to do.

Curated Post from Zim Live: https://www.zimlive.com/2018/09/im-zimbabwe-and-im-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-zanu-pf/