Surviving R. Kelly: Episode 3

[Content Note: Child Sexual Assault]

Surviving R. Kelly. Episode 3: Sex Tape Scandal

I'm using the "#AnaWatchesSRK" tag so that people can mute me without having to mute the entire #SurvivingRKelly tag and/or all [TW: SA] instances. This is a live-watch with direct quotes from the material, much of which is EXTREMELY explicit and triggering, so please exercise caution.

Episode 3 starts out with the same text: "R. Kelly has denied all claims relating to sexual assault, domestic violence / abuse, and sexual misconduct with minors." The longer this series goes on, the more outrageous that denial seems.

I feel so awful that Sparkle blames herself for introducing her niece to Robert. It made all the sense to do so. She shouldn't have to wonder whether her employer does monstrous things to children.

Lisa talks about how sick and angry she feels upon finding out the real age of the girl Robert had been making her have sex with. "He obviously knew that wasn't okay, for her to be younger."

Screen text: "While Lisa has a sexual relationship with him, R. Kelly is still married to Andrea."

I don't know how to deal with the fact that the word "sex" keeps being used in relation to girls who are simply not old enough to consent; that's statutory rape, but I don't know if the producers felt legally safe saying so. I really feel like there needs to be a de-coupling of the CONCEPT of rape from the LEGAL definition of rape because we need to be able to say something is rape without lawyers swooping in to say you can't say that without a conviction. Like, we have that with "killed" and "murder" to a certain extent--no one is convicted of "killing", they're convicted of "murder". So you can say Bob killed Tom even without a conviction of murder. If we define sex to REQUIRE consent in order to BE sex (and I think we should), then people who *cannot* give consent, *cannot* have sex. This is a statement of definitions. Anyway, I don't know how to solve that, but it bothers me. I've been trying to stick with direct quotes for this case.

Screen text: "R. Kelly and Andrea now have two children."

Andrea talks about how she never saw these girls Robert was abusing--points out that if he'd shown himself as abusive to others, she'd have been more likely to realize the problem was HIM, not HER, and would've left him. She talks about the strategy behind abuse, and how abusers are able to "strategically" bucket who they are around people. This is a VERY important point; it's planned and controlled, not lashing out randomly from a lack of control. That was actually how I escaped my first marriage: I realized he would be abusive to our kids/pets if we ever had any, and that made me realize the problem was HIS anger, not MY causing it. (I love Andrea so much; every word she says resonates so deeply with my soul and my own experiences, I just am so in awe of her doing this interview.)

Lisa talks about how Robert would film her having sex and would direct her what to do. He left her alone one day with his bag of tapes and she found the tape of him urinating on the 14 year old girl. Dr. Norcott talks about how abusers often want trophies in order to relive their memories / sexual feelings. Lisa stole the tape and asked a friend to hold the tape for her. She didn't want him to have the tape with her on it.

Oh god, now we get to hear about these adult men who were shown/told about the videos by Robert. Why, why did they not stop him? Do something? I just. I'm trying not to be too hard on the men in this because at least they're coming forward and that's not nothing, but... You hear all the women talk about their regrets that they didn't do things differently, and I would like to hear the men say that? It's... upsetting to see people who weren't to blame blaming themselves, and people who were to blame not doing so. What would you do differently now, guys? Tell us! Do they blame themselves or is it just one of those "mistakes were made but not by me" situations? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Gem (Andrea's brother, iirc) at least says he never saw the underage videos and if he had he'd have demanded to know what Robert was doing, so that's something. Thank you. I have to remember that as much as Robert was manipulating the women around him, I suppose he was manipulating the men, too. It's just... it's hard. It's hard not to wish for a superman to have swooped in and put a stop to the bad things. Survivor Feels, I guess.

"My name is Abdon Pallasch, I was the legal affairs reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times." Oh wow. Someone sent in a fax. "Robert's problem is young girls....I've tried to get him help, but he just won't do it." He wanted them to write an article so Robert would have no choice but to "get help and stop hurting the people he's hurting". Some of the young women had actually filed suit against R. Kelly.

"They generally settled out of court, but the allegations were explosive." !!!!! This was public record that could be pulled up by anyone with access!!!!!? I can't BREATHE. Once again we're back to Mikki Kendall saying that people knew, but no one cared because it was Black girls being hurt. They should just fucking scroll that quote at the top of the screen for all 6 parts of this documentary: People knew and didn't care because Black girls. *flips over a table*


[Retweet about R. Kelly being under investigation in the wake of the documentary.]

GOOD. And I know I have a lot of liberal / leftist followers so please do not come in my mentions about prison abolition on this thread, please. PLEASE. I am begging, this is a boundary. I want to abolish prison, but I would like very much to abolish it for literally everyone who ISN'T a murderer or rapist FIRST, okay, and save the rapists for last, please and thank you. And every time there is even a thin shred of a chance that a rapist MIGHT see a day in jail, prison abolitionist folks start demanding that survivors forgive in a way that feels really awful.

We're *already* exhorted not to report so we don't Ruin Some Man's Life, so being exhorted to NOT want someone to go to jail because Prison Is Bad feels like more of the same. Prison IS bad, but there is a context here. We can both abolish prisons AND figure out how to free rapists last after we've (a) freed everyone else and (b) worked out the kinks in a rehabilitation program which means no more girls will be hurt by these guys. If the sum total of your prison abolition activism is "yelling at survivors" rather than working to free trans people (in general) and the people of color who've been caught up in the racist War on Drugs spree, then I have Questions about efficacy. You're allowed to disagree with me! But you can also please not come into my mentions on this topic when I'm asking as politely as I can that people not. Fortunately, I have ZERO influence on prison policy, so my opinions are literally worthless.

....god I really don't want to hit the Play button. Can I say again how much I admire everyone who made this documentary? This had to be the most triggering thing to work on. I'm having flashbacks to when we were all working on the Wendy Davis transcripts and citizen testimonies and we were all so emotional and just. Yeah. God. Okay, here we go.

The Chicago Sun-Times pulled up multiple lawsuits (how many? tell me how many) re: R. Kelly and underage girls and ran an article attesting to a pattern of behavior. "Immediately after our story ran, we started getting calls. Other girls who said this has happened to them, from girls who said it happened to their friends." Oh god. HOW MANY. I just. I need to know.

With confidential settlements, if girls go public they can lose the settlement. Why is that legal? Seriously asking. Why is confidentiality agreements legal. They can only serve to cover up potentially illegal behavior and harm future victims. Is there a genuine benefit to "buying silence" being a legal option in society because I cannot think of a single case where that is a good thing. Victims shouldn't have to choose between covering their medical bills for therapy, abortion, STD treatments, etc. vs. telling their truth.

Jamilah Lemieux: "These are fix- and six-figure settlements. We see the beginning of an ecosystem: a system of protecting R. Kelly from accountability." Holy shit. That's... five- and six-figures are 10,000 to 999,999 as a range. Tens and hundreds of thousands. Was this from his own personal finances? Or was the music industry considering this the cost of doing business?

An interviewer asks him why he settled, when settlements lead people to assume guilt. Robert says he can't answer because of the confidentiality clause, which is bullshit. God, it would be so easy to lie and he just doesn't BOTHER. "I didn't want to put these poor girls through a trial and I can afford a few nuisance lawsuits" would be so easy to say. He doesn't even try. I'm shaken by how confident you have to be that you're untouchable to act like this.

Of course, it's not just hubris; he's also reminding anyone who is watching that their confidentiality agreement is on his mind. That there will be a punishment for breaking it. And that if the agreement is broken, it breaks both ways and he can feel free to drag them through the mud. It's a promise and a warning. 'You're safe from me now, but don't make me hurt you,' is what it feels like.

Tarana Burke points out that the confientiality agreements to protect him from bad publicity proves that he knows what he's doing is wrong. (I can't believe that they *needed* to prove "this guy knows it's wrong to abuse underage girls" but you know if they didn't prove that, then it would've been the argument of stans.)

And this Chicago Sun-Times article was in 2000. Why didn't ANY article about R. Kelly after that include the word-for-word explosive allegations in these suits????

Like, I distinctly remember this 'review' from Jezebel in 2013: "R. Kelly’s ‘Black Panties’ is a Magnificent Ode to Pussy". And wooooow, what an Editor's Note they finally pinned on: "Editor's note: Sarcasm was not the right approach here, certainly not without acknowledging Kelly's history of sexual abuse. We apologize." But they still didn't explain it and I didn't know what to Google or where to start and a lot of that is on me, NO DOUBT NO EXCUSES, but why the fuck wasn't there word-for-word dives into legal records from 13 years prior?!?

Then there's Jezebel in 2012: "R. Kelly's Twelve-Year Marriage Was Ruined By The Notebook". "As an outsider, you might say that your husband getting caught allegedly having sex with and peeing on a minor in 2002 because of footage that he himself videotaped is an excellent reason to divorce, but that wasn't the case for Andrea — everyone has their own limitations on the pesky husband-wife stuff that they're willing to put up with, and Andrea's limits extended beyond a urine fetish." HAHA, get the joke? It's funny because both Andrea and the girl in the urine tape are victims of a terrifying predator! Or something!!

Fucking hell. Mikki Kendall: "People will say 'well why didn't anyone notice?' The answer is that we all noticed; no one cared because we were Black girls." My god, I'm so furious about that. "Sarcasm was not the right approach" as an editor's note, but they did NOTHING to rectify the actual PROBLEM.

Lisa had left the urine tape with someone (for safety) and then couldn't get it back and didn't want it released onto the internet. She contacted Robert to tell him she'd taken the tape and was trying to retrieve it. This comes back to what we talked about in Episode 1, where the victims felt powerless to "tell" anyone what was going on because the people in power already KNEW and weren't doing anything. If case after case is being settled and NO ONE decides to open a criminal investigation on this guy, then... yeah... your priority is just going to be keeping a tape of yourself from going viral. It's not "evidence" when no one cares.

Robert pays $250,000 for the return of the tape, and any copies, to the guy. Through his accountant. (Do the people handling his finances just never ASK?!?!) God, poor Lisa. I feel so awful for her.


Lisa: "I didn't know there was a point in time where they were talking about killing me."

Screen text: "Kelly's lawyers claimed that Lisa took the tape as part of an attempt to extort money from Kelly." WHAT. EXCUSE THE FUCK ME?!!?! She took it because it had HER on it and she didn't want people watching it! Which is perfectly reasonable and honestly ought to be her right!

The video anonymously shows up in one of the Chicago Sun-Times mailboxes. "She looked like a child... I was sickened by what I saw." Sparkle: "Chicago Sun-Times contacted me and wanted me to come down to their offices to view tapes that possibly had girls on it that I may have known. On the tape, my niece has the same hairstyle she had when she turned 14. That was her, for sure."

Screen text: "The girl and her family did not cooperate, and denied it was her on the tape." Oh hon. That had to be so scary and humiliating and upsetting. There's an interview with the girl's friend and with her basketball coach. They stress that she was a happy, vibrant girl with good parents. I understand why they had to do that. We all, hopefully, understand why they shouldn't need to. There is no detail which makes it okay, or mitigates even a little, a grown man's choice to abuse a child. Happy or sullen, good family or bad, rich or poor, innocent or otherwise; NO child should be abused and ANY man can choose not to do that.

Toure: "His attempt to say it wasn't him is ridiculous; at one point, he's having sex with this woman and somebody is yelling from another room, you know, 'R! Kells! Pick up the phone. It's phone for you!' and, like, yelling his name."

"This tape was duplicated and was for sale all over the South Side." Oh my god, what fucker did that. Poor Lisa. Poor other girl.

Lemieux: "The tape is incredibly graphic. That makes it impossible-- or SHOULD have made it impossible for people to pretend they did not know this person had a thing for little girls."

R. Kelly is performing the opening ceremony of the Olympics at the same time this tape is circulating.

Ann Powers: The story of sexual predation as an 'inconvenience' in popular music is so old. ...Nobody wants to give up the music they love and nobody wants to think badly of the artists they love."

Sparkle talks about being pissed at whoever bootlegged the tape, which... same? It's being sold as porn. There's a little girl on the video tape, it's so cruel and upsetting. Oh shit, the basketball coach of the little girl JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE a police sergeant whose specialty was sex crimes against minors.

Jovante: "I watched my friend [Sparkle] give up her career to save her family." Sparkle came out publicly against Robert, and found no support whatsoever. She was 'looking for Robert's money' and the 14yo niece was 'a fast girl'. God. Sparkle: "She's 14 years old. The adult is supposed to know not to touch that."

Oh god. They show an old interview with Robert and the interviewer asks how his wife and kids are handling the allegations. Robert confidently replies that his wife is totally behind him because she knows the truth. Oh. Oh my god. Without telling her anything, he puts Andrea--while pregnant and needing doctors--on a bus to Florida and keeps her captive there with security who won't tell her anything. HOW MANY PEOPLE CHOSE NOT TO HELP THIS WONDERFUL PREGNANT WOMAN. HOW MANY HELPED KEEP HER CAPTIVE THERE. I WILL FIGHT THEM ALL.

Oh god. Oh god. [miscarriage] "I was under so much stress that when I went to the ob-gyn, they couldn't find his heartbeat." OH. Oh, they induced labor and the baby survived? I think? Oh, thank god. Okay, he survived. He's okay.

Then Robert is indicted and arrested. Andrea faints watching the news; her best friend catches the baby. The episode ends and that's the end of episode 3.


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