One formerly anonymous R. Kelly accuser has come forward publicly to share her story.
Lanita Carter said during an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Thursday that the “Bump n Grind” singer sexually abused her. She had been working as his hair stylist for nearly two years at the time and, on this specific occasion, she’d been called in to braid his hair, but things quickly turned inappropriate, she said.
“I was sexually abused by him and I live after that. I try to pick up the pieces every day,” she said. “It’s hard, but I know I’ll get through it. I’m not ashamed of my past anymore.”
That day — Feb. 18, 2003 — Kelly first asked her for a head massage, but she declined and tried to laugh it off, she recalled. He then tried to force her into performing oral sex, and masturbated in front of her and spit on her several times, she said.
“If I could change that day, I wouldn’t have been there,” she said. “He pulled my braid down by him. And he say, ‘Suck it for daddy, suck it for daddy.’ And I said, ‘No.’”
She tried to put up a hand to stop him, but Kelly began spitting, “like, six times,” she said. He stopped after someone knocked on the door, but he did not open the door right away; instead, he told her, “’Fix your face! Fix your motherf---ing face!” she said.
She recalled going to the bathroom after that and wiping her face with a towel.
“I’m not dressed no type of way. I look at myself in the mirror, like, I’m not a beauty queen. I didn’t perceive myself to be nothing more than just his hair braider,” she said. “And I was kept thinking to myself, like, ‘Why did this happen to me?’”
Carter called the police that day and handed over her “favorite Tommy Hilfiger shirt” when authorities requested it. She said that they later found DNA evidence, Kelly’s semen, on the shirt, but authorities ultimately opted not to pursue charges. She reached a $650,000 settlement agreement with Kelly 10 months later by agreeing to keep quiet about what had happened, according to CBS News. Kelly reportedly did not admit to any inappropriate behavior in the settlement.
Carter and Kelly would reach another settlement, this one for $100,000, after Kelly released “Hair Braider” in 2009, a sexually suggestive song about a hairstylist. The lyrics mentioned “zig-zag braids,” a style that Carter said she was known for. As part of the settlement, Kelly again denied any misconduct but agreed not to perform the song in question and to keep it off of any future albums, CBS News reports.
Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse last month, with prosecutors accusing the 52-year-old singer of victimizing three underage girls and one woman, a previously unnamed hairstylist whose story matches Carter’s.
Kelly has maintained his innocence, as has his legal representation.
“These allegations were fully investigated by the police and prosecutors ... and a decision was made, after evaluating all of the evidence, not to bring any charges,” Greenberg said in a statement obtained by CBS News.
Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary, a six-episode series that compiled dozens of sexual misconduct claims regarding Kelly, kicked off renewed interest in Kelly’s alleged wrongdoings. Authorities opened investigations into Kelly, with Cook County State Attorney Kimberly Foxx, of Illinois, making a public call for victims of Kelly to come forward.
Carter told “CBS This Morning” that it was Foxx’s message that inspired her to go public, as did Kelly’s explosive interview with “CBS This Morning” earlier this month, where he yelled at the camera in his defense and accused the public of having “assassinated” him.
Carter said in response: “Felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell a story. That he [was] able to get on television and lie.”
“It’s actually the reason that I’m here,” she said.
The Cook County state’s attorney declined CBS News’ request for comment since Kelly’s case is still open.
Carter told the outlet that it’s been a “release” to finally tell her story.
“I’ve been carrying this since 2003. … If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth.”
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