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"Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” the three-night special event on Lifetime which premiered Thursday, includes a lot of accusations against the controversial singer. It also features a pair of sisters who staunchly defend him.
Lindsey Perryman-Dunn and her sister Jennifer Emrich used to work for R. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Kelly.
“I believe in the American justice system,” Lindsey Perryman-Dunn says in the second part of the series.” I do not believe in the justice system that is going on right now which is just the public justice system. Right now the public is prosecuting R. Kelly, not the police.”
While R. Kelly, 52, does face actual charges filed by law enforcement — he’s currently awaiting trial on a series of charges across multiple jurisdictions — both Perryman-Dunn and her sister Jennifer Emrich vehemently defend him.
The two staunchly deny that R. Kelly has done anything wrong, yet the allegations filed against R. Kelly appear to demonstrate a pattern of misconduct and abuse. Back in the '90s, he was accused of allegedly marrying a teenage Aaliyah Haughton. R. Kelly's first accuser, Tiffany Hawkins, sued R. Kelly for $10 million back in 1996 for after claiming that he had sex with her beginning in 1991, when she was just 15. That lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum two years after it was filed, according to Rolling Stone. R. Kelly was indicted in 2002 for multiple child pornography charges, which he was acquitted of in 2008. BuzzFeed News published a disturbing viral report in 2017, which claimed that R. Kelly kept women as sex slaves.
When "Surviving R. Kelly" aired last year, it brought the long list of sexual abuse allegations made against the singer to the forefront of the cultural conversation. Soon after, R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse before being charged with another 11 sex-related counts months later. He was arrested on federal sex crime charges over the summer. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him and has vehemently denied the claims. The disgraced singer is currently behind bars and is due in federal court in Chicago in April before being scheduled to appear in a New York court in May.
Perryman-Dunn worked for the singer from 1999 to 2007. She started out as his studio manager before moving up to become his personal assistant. Later, she became his general manager. Emrich worked for R. Kelly from 1999 to 2001. She started off as an intern before becoming the singer’s personal assistant, she tells Oxygen.com in an interview. In 2016, they began doing some unpaid social media and public relations work for R. Kelly again during their free time in an attempt to help his tarnished image. They have kept a close professional relationship with the singer for the past two decades, they tell Oxygen.com.
Emrich explains in the new part of the docu-series that she got upset when she watched the first part, which aired last January.
“When the docu-series aired, nobody wanted to listen to me unless I said something bad about R. Kelly because that’s the popular thing to do,” she says.
So, she began using hashtags like #rkelly and #unmuterkelly to speak out.
“It started a whole movement. It worked, thank God, it worked,” she says in the series.
Some of those hashtags were also used by social media pages that have spread unfavorable information about some of R. Kelly’s alleged victims. Some of the pages even spread revenge porn images of one of the victims, according to the docu-series.
Both Perryman-Dunn and Emrich’s social media pages are peppered with posts declaring R. Kelly’s innocence. They engage with accuser supporters regularly.
Both are now mothers and registered nurses living in Arkansas. Both are pursuing their nurse practioner’s licenses.
The pair of sisters both independently tell Oxygen.com that they felt called to speak out and participate in the taping of the second part of the series, despite any potential backlash, after they watched the first of the Lifetime docu-series on R. Kelly.
“It was pretty natural to come forward just because everything I was seeing was unfair,” Perryman-Dunn tells Oxygen.com. “It was untrue and it was difficult to get behind that and just watch. I was there all those years and when I watched the Lifetime series I only recognized two girls in it.”
“There’s a group of people saying a lot of wrong things about a really great guy so we had to speak out,” Emrich says.
Both Perryman-Dunn and Emrich tell Oxygen.com that they don’t believe any of the women in the documentary. Furthermore, they firmly state that they believe he never had sex with anyone underage.
"If someone were in a bad place, they would have asked me for help [when I worked for R. Kelly]. I was young, I was naive. I was nice,” Perryman-Dunn tells Oxygen.com. “Nobody was ever in distress.”
Perryman-Dunn testified in 2008 at R. Kelly's trial when he was accused of having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old girl. She says in the docu-series that she watched the tape and identified the girl as a girl she knew. However, she claims now in hindsight the video showed "two consentual people having sex. I did not watch a rape."
Cultural critic Dr. Joan Moran argues in the series that "we have a legal system that says that they are not allowed to consent so if they're not consenting, by even virtue of age, it's a rape."
In part two of the docu-series, Perryman-Dunn states “the women that I saw in the (first part of the) docu-series were the type of women that Robert would have picked and you know what they’re upset about? It’s that they didn’t get the limelight until they were on Lifetime television.”
She clarifies to Oxygen.com that when she said “picked,” she didn’t mean romantically.
“I meant talent-wise or for mentorship,” she says. She claims that most women in the docu-series are "not even his type if you compare them to people he dates. He has a specific physique and these women don't even meet that."
Like her sister, Emrich claims that the women featured in the documentary are making up the allegations for limelight reasons.
"They are so desperate for fame and money,” she tells Oxygen.com. “They have no education and they have no talent and this is what they resort to, to a man who was abused as a child, no father around, raised by a single mother and who finally made it. A lot of these women figured out if they say R. Kelly hurt them, they’ll get a book deal, they’ll get famous.”
She adds that she and her sister were “already kind of used to this” from when they worked with R. Kelly.
“Women were trying to get his attention, trying to get that lifestyle, a lot of people wanted to further their singing careers using him and their false claims would get shut down and for some reason this docu-series, the producers took their stories and people believe this,” she claims.
Even though there is a mountain of allegations from multiple abusers spanning decades, the sisters say they are certain R. Kelly is completely innocent. Dr. Candice Norcott, a clinical psychologist, explains in the second part of the docu-series how some people could deny someone's possible guilt, even in the face of overwhelming alleged evidence.
"It can be devastating and disappointing to us to learn something about somebody we care about that is so disconnected from how we see them," she explains. "What becomes problematic is that instead of sitting with that discomfort, we deny, we don't believe people's accounts no matter how much evidence is accumulating because it disagrees with a preset notion that we have created."
The sisters say they will continue to vocally defend the controversial singer.
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