Thursday evening will mark the start of a three night docuseries that will highlight sexual assault allegations against R&B superstar, R. Kelly. Various women, including his former wife Andrea, will recount their tales of abuse from the singer who sought to prevent the special from airing.
Earlier in the week, Kelly’s former back up dancer Jovante Cunningham alleged that she caught Kelly and the late singer Aaliyah having sex on a tour bus. At the time, she would have been 15 and Kelly 27. He was the executive producer of her debut album Aint Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Rumors have swirled for years about the nature of the relationship between the two and court documents showed that the two were secretly married in 1994 but the union was later annulled.
Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001 at 22, never publicly commented on the matter. Her mother, Dana Haughton, released a statement in response to the renewed discussion about her daughter and denied the claims.
“The woman and so-called back up singer that describes seeing, meeting or ever breathing the same air as my daughter, Aaliyah, is lying and is a liar,” Haughton said. “My husband and I were always on tour with her and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career. Whoever this woman is, I have never seen her before anywhere on planet earth, until now.”
Nonetheless, the accusations against Kelly have been a staple of his career as much as his hit songs have been. In June 2008, he was acquitted of child pornography charges and other counts after a video surfaced of him alleging peeing on a young girl. In the years since, Kelly has continued to have a successful career but the #MeToo movement created momentum to once again hold him accountable for his alleged actions and calls for a criminal investigation as more women came forward with their stories.
Tarana Burke, creator of #MeToo, was hopeful that this documentary would lead to consequences for Kelly. The hashtag #MuteKelly asked for buyers to stop supporting him. Burke has urged people not to turn away once more.
A few months ago the #muteRkelly hashtag blew up on twitter and beyond when celebrity allies took up the cause and wrote an open letter. We need that same energy now! Please retweet this and tell folks to tune in Jan. 3-5 on @lifetimetv— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) January 1, 2019
Kelly has denied all allegations, past and old. The Lifetime docuseries begins airing Thursday evening at 9/8c.