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In Lifetime’s "Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” the three-night special event on Lifetime which premiered earlier this month, R. Kelly’s former hairdresser explains how she broke a non-disclosure agreement when she came forward publicly with her claims against the singer last year.
Lanita Carter explains in the docu-series how she did R. Kelly’s hair, a profession that brought her much admiration from her family, until he allegedly assaulted her in 2003.
She says she tried to bring criminal charges, but R. Kelly wasn’t prosecuted. It was at that point that she was encouraged to sue so that she could get some justice.
Carter hired a lawyer and a few months later got a $650,000 settlement, CBS News reported last year. There was a catch though. She had to sign an NDA, or a non-disclosure agreement. A non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract, often between two parties, which is often created to prevent the leakage of unfavorable or personal information about one of the parties.
Women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of R. Kelly's alleged victims, told Oxygen.com that “even if there is a non-disclosure agreement, the person can always make a police report, can always request that the accused be prosecuted."
In other words, a person cannot face any legal ramifications if they go to the police and if they report any criminal activity even if they end up testifying, which would become public knowledge. Speaking to the media, though, is a different story.
There are different kinds of non-disclosure agreements, Beth Karas, former prosecutor and legal expert, told Oxygen.com. She said some prohibit a person from discussing anything while others prohibit them from revealing how much they were paid.
Last year, Carter discussed all details related to the case at hand and how much she was given.
“I signed a non-disclosure agreement and I was told not to speak about it, ever,” she recalled in the docu-series.
Years later, in 2009, she claimed that R. Kelly wrote a song about her and she then signed another confidential agreement, which she later told CBS News was for $100,000.
Carter broke her confidential agreements last year after Lifetime aired the first part of “Surviving R. Kelly.” Immediately following the docu-series, Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx asked for women to come forward during a January 2019 press conference. Carter said she felt compelled to come forward and break that agreement
“The first time I broke the NDA was when I did an interview with ‘CBS This Morning,’” she said.
She did it regardless of the possible consequences.
“I did think that i would go to jail for in fact speaking out,” she explained on the Lifetime docu-series. “Money does not heal you. Money does not cover up how you feel. I took the chance of going to jail because i had already imprisoned myself. I was already in jail.”
Could Carter face actual jail time for breaking her NDA?
Karas tells Oxygen.com that no, you cannot go to jail for breaking an NDA. As for other possible consequences, that it all depends on what the NDA says — the person violating the NDA could have to pay the money back or face civil litigation.
“You risk losing the amount of money you are paid,” she said.
But, what if the settlement was years ago and it’s already been spent?
“You risk having to pay it back as well as [civil] litigation and an injunction to stop you from releasing more information,” Karas explained.
Karas noted that in the Harvey Weinstein case, several alleged victims who signed NDAs came forward and broke their agreements. Yet, those individuals have not been sued by neither him nor his legal team.
Both Karas and Allred said it is not common for NDAs to be broken, however they couldn't give any numbers on how prevalent that kind of breach is.
It’s not clear if Carter has faced or will face any ramifications for breaking her NDA.
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