An explosive docu-series about R. Kelly and the myriad sex abuse allegations against the R&B singer began airing Thursday despite threats of legal action — and with the full support of John Legend.
Legend is the biggest name to participate in the three-night “Surviving R. Kelly” Lifetime series and said in a Twitter post late Thursday he supports the women who stepped forward.
“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all. I believe these women and don’t give a f–k about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision,” Legend said.
In the episode set for Saturday, Legend blasts Kelly.
“R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people,” Legend, 40, says.
Kelly’s lawyer, Brian Nix, threatened to sue Lifetime if the network went ahead with the series debut on Thursday.
Nix did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Kelly, 51, has faced multiple charges, lawsuits and accusations over the last two decades claiming he preyed on and sexually abused young women and girls.
The allegations have included claims he coerced underage girls into sex and brainwashed victims into joining a sex cult.
The Lifetime series goes back to Kelly’s early days in the 1970s, when the singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, was raised by a single mom in public housing in Chicago.
Best known for a series of hit singles including “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Ignition (Remix),” Kelly married singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was 15 years old and he was 27, according to a wedding certificate obtained by Vibe Magazine.
Aaliyah’s parents reportedly had the union annulled, and the popular singer tragically died in a plane crash in 2001.
In 2002, a video was sent to reporter Jim DeRogatis at The Chicago Sun-Times that appeared to show Kelly having sex with a teenage girl and urinating in her mouth.
Kelly was indicted on 21 counts of child pornography related to the sexually explicit videotape but was acquitted when jurors decided they couldn’t identify the girl, who didn’t testify, with any certainty.
In July 2017, DeRogatis wrote a blockbuster exposé for BuzzFeed that depicted Kelly as the “pied piper” of a sex cult that brainwashed and controlled victims by taking away their cell phones, imposing strict rules and limiting their contact with family members.
The Lifetime docuseries from producer Dream Hampton reinvestigates the various allegations through the lens of the #MeToo movement – including an interview with #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke.
It also includes features interviews with Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly, his ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones, his brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly, the musician Sparkle, Legend and talk show host Wendy Williams.