The first installment of Lifetime's heartbreaking documentary Surviving R. Kelly aired last night (Jan. 3), and many are still in shock over all that was uncovered in the two-hour exposé. From the horrifying details about his marriage to Andrea Kelly to the unbelievable eyewitness reflections regarding the late Aaliyah, social media was set ablaze. In order to understand the monster R. Kelly is today, these first two episodes humanize Robert and uncover disturbing details from his childhood to lay the groundwork on the path to figuring out how the Pied Piper managed to build a successful career without ever being held accountable for his actions.
The sexual abuse began as early as age 6.
This, in no way, excuses his actions. Remember that.
He met Lizzette Martinez at a Florida mall at age 17. "I didn't know how to say no," she tearfully reflected. "I found out I was pregnant and a few days later, I miscarried. When he wrote it, he was thinking of me." Despite it being one of Michael Jackson's biggest hits, the pop legend was unaware of the song's origin.
Martinez tearfully shared that Kelly paid her mother $1,000 as hush money. She also said that the bout of illness came after a miscarriage that he prompted. Though their relationship ended in 1999, over the years Kelly would persistently coerce her into sexual acts against her will. She ultimately decided not to take legal action against him for the sake of her own sanity and mental wellness.
And falsely listed the then-15-year-old Aaliyah’s age as 18, he admitted. The counterfeit marriage certificate, listed in Cook County, was originally published by Vibe, and followed-up with what Smith remembered as a small wedding at an Illinois hotel. “I’m not proud of that,” he shared on the series. “I had papers forged for them. Aaliyah was underage. We got the marriage license, we were at a hotel in Maywood, Illinois. It was just a quick little ceremony, nothing elaborate.” In one of the most shameful twists of his recollection, Smith confessed that “Aaliyah looked worried, scared” and that he “wanted so much to grab Aaliyah and talk to her.” Unfortunately, he never did, stamping himself as yet another person to have failed the beloved princess of R&B.
"There was a rule being on tour with him. The dancers do not communicate with my background singers. My band don't communicate with my dancers. He really ran it like a dictatorship," Andrea Kelly reflected, prior to them being married.
As several of his former teenage victims recall, including Jerhonda Pace and Lisa Van Allen, Kelly would even force them to perform sexual acts on one another in these rooms as he filmed them. Enforcing his master manipulation tactics, he’d verbally strong-arm the women into such acts with pep talks where he’d tell them “if you love me, you’ll do these things for me.”
In spite of seeing, firsthand, how R. Kelly treated his wife Andrea, she still introduced her niece to him at age 12. Two years later, that child, who was placed in his care for professional purposes, found herself engulfed in one of the most heinous acts of this generation.
According to Kelly's brothers, young girls were his preference. He recruited teenagers as young as 14 with the help of his entourage.
"I could see that she wanted her people there. She wanted her [parents] there," stated Bruce Kelly, his brother. Andrea recalls, "my wedding was a surprise wedding. I did not know I was getting married." The kind man who romanced her and enlisted her help with his reading deficiency quickly spiraled into a terrorizing stranger that almost drove her to suicide.
Tune in to the rest of Lifetime's three-night, six-part Surviving R. Kelly docu-series on Friday (January 4) and Saturday (January 5) at 9 p.m. EST.
(Photo: Mike Pont/Getty Images)