John Legend said he wasn't worried about appearing in Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary on Thursday night because he believed the women who have accused the R&B singer of sexual misconduct.
“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn't feel risky at all,” Legend wrote on Twitter. “I believe these women and don't give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist.”
Surviving R. Kelly is a six-part documentary series on Lifetime that details the many sexual assault and abuse allegations against the R&B singer, who has also been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with underage girls and was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008.
A number of women — including Lizzette Martinez, Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly, and Kelly’s longtime backup singer Jovante Cunningham — appeared in the documentary and made accusations against Kelly.
"You don't even believe in your own sense of judgment after a while," Andrea Kelly told Lifetime of their relationship.
BuzzFeed News previously reported in 2017 that parents went to police and alleged Kelly was holding their adult daughters against their will in an abusive “cult.” The parents also said despite Kelly’s treatment toward these women, they were brainwashed into staying with the artist.
According to three former members of Kelly’s inner circle, six women were living in Kelly’s rented properties in Chicago and Atlanta, with Kelly controlling how they engage in sexual encounters that he also records, as well as what they wear, what they eat, and when they sleep and bathe.
Jim DeRogatis, a Chicago-based reporter who has been reporting on abuse allegations against Kelly for nearly two decades for publications including BuzzFeed News, said he’s not surprised some celebrities were hesitant to get involved with the Lifetime documentary.
“I don’t think any random celebrity on the red carpet needs to answer for the sins of other celebrities,” DeRogatis said on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show AM to DM on Friday.
“But if you have been in the recording studio or the concert stage with Robert Sylvester Kelly and you have not addressed this… I think there’s an incredible lack of courage, and good for John Legend.”
After reporting about Kelly’s alleged sex “cult” in July 2017, BuzzFeed News reached out to 43 of Kelly’s former collaborators including Chance the Rapper, Lady Gaga, Usher, Diddy, and Jay-Z to see if they’d ever work with him again. None of them commented.
A representative for R. Kelly said they had no comment for this story, but the singer has previously denied all allegations of sexual assault and abuse.
In July 2018, Kelly released a 19-minute song titled “I Admit” addressing the accusations against him. “I admit I fuck with all the ladies / that's both older and young ladies,” he said. “But tell me how they call it pedophile because that shit is crazy.”
Last month, the premiere screening of the Lifetime documentary in New York was evacuated due to an anonymous gun threat.
Thumbnail credits: Pascal Le Segretain / Mike Pont / Getty Images
This story has been updated with a response from R. Kelly's spokesperson.