Surviving R. Kelly also includes interviews with multiple clinical psychologists about the mentality of abuse, music journalists and musician John Legend about the relationship of Kelly's music to his alleged sex crimes and pop music history, Kelly's brothers and longtime male friends about what they saw in his inner circle, and more.
The new documentary details the relationship in 1994 between the late singer Aaliyah and Kelly, who married him when she was 15 and he was 27. "I was so disappointed in him, 'cause I really believed him when he said that, you know, he wasn't doing and messing with Aaliyah", shared Smith, who also admitted that he's "not proud" of forging the papers for Kelly and Aaliyah.
The most infamous allegation of sexual abuse against Kelly arrived in 2002, when he was indicted on - and ultimately cleared of - 21 counts of child pornography related to a sex tape that showed a man urinating on an underage girl.
In July 2018, R Kelly released a 19-minute song called I Admit, which responded to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Smith stated that he never saw the two entertainers engaged in a sexual act, despite the fact there is a 1994 marriage license showing 27-year-old Kelly and 15-year-old Haughton were Wednesday at one point.
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"Aaliyah [was] very tom-boyish, glasses, braces, no swag", Cunningham recalls of meeting 12-year-old Aaliyah, who was the niece of Kelly's then-manager, Barry Hankerson.
According to the documentary, one of the Kelly's backup dancers claimed to have seen Kelly having sex with Aaliyah when she was just a teen. "We went to Colorado and I remember going into a hotel room and there was a violinist, there was a cello player, he had the cake, he had the food, he had everything". "My husband and I were always on tour with [Aaliyah] and at interviews and every place she went throughout her entire career", says Haughton. Aaliyah was Kelly's protégé.
Containing more than 50 interviews and covering a time span from 1970 to today, the cable-TV documentary is among the most comprehensive looks ever at the scandal surrounding the man once nicknamed the king of R&B. "I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice", Legend said in a tweet. Things looked serious enough between Calhoun and Kelly initially, with the R&B star even throwing her a surprise 22nd birthday party. "We taught her her street thing, we gave her her vibe", said Cunningham.
Aaliyah later passed away when she was just 22 years old, after a plane she was in crashed after leaving the Bahamas (via People).