The new R. Kelly, special features journalists, activists, criminal justice attorneys and mental health professionals tracking the conversations about abuse that have surfaced since the show aired.
In the wake of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, which brought to light new allegations that singer R. Kelly had physically and emotionally abused young girls, a follow-up special examines the cultural reaction to the latest claims, along with the reaction from the music industry at large.
Surviving R. Kelly: The Impact features journalists, activists, criminal justice attorneys and mental health professionals taking a look into the conversations about abuse that have surfaced since the show aired.
It begins with the host, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien, calling Surviving R. Kelly the most talked-about documentary of the year it was seen by over 26 million people. Emphasizing her place as a journalist and a woman, she noted the importance of telling this story.
Several clips from the prior documentary are shown, with one woman declaring, “The breaking point was when he slapped me and choked me until I blacked out.” As the women speak about being humiliated and abused, Kelly is described as a “monster.”
Kelly, who was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008, was indicted before a Cook County grand jury in February 2019 and charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sex abuse involving four victims, three of which were minors.
Each charge carries a potential prison sentence of three to seven years, a point that is emphasized in the special.
Kelly pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually abused the victims dating back to 1998. Accusers have continued to speak out since the documentary debuted and Kelly has denied all allegations.
The special looks at how the allegations against Kelly “exploded” in the middle of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, with O’Brien noting that “a fuse was lit” amongst those active on social media.
Hashtags emerged suggesting Kelly be “muted” from all major streaming services and protests occurred outside Sony Records where people demanded Kelly be dropped from his music deals.
The special goes on to reference footage of Kelly’s victims, one who claimed she was not allowed to use the bathroom when being held by Kelly.
The Impact examines the way in which Cook County attorney Kim Foxx, who is herself a victim of child sexual abuse, held a press conference three days after the airing of Surviving R. Kelly, encouraging victims to come forward. This move was heavily criticized by Greenberg, who notes that it isn’t the regular procedure that should occur.
The Lifetime special premieres on Saturday, May 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.