What to Expect from Lifetime’s New Documentary Series

For years, R&B singer R. Kelly has faced allegations that he sexually abused women and underage girls. There was his 1995 marriage to a then 14-year-old Aaliyah. (Kelly was 27 at the time.) In 2002, he was arrested on child pornography charges, but he was acquitted in a 2008 trial. In 2017, a report in Buzzfeed claimed that he was holding women against their will in his homes in Atlanta and Chicago.

But it wasn’t until the six-part Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly aired in January 2019 that the tide of public opinion really began to turn against the ‘I Can Believe I Can Fly’ singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly. More than 26 million people watched the series when it aired nearly a year ago. Now, the network is planning to air a follow-up documentary, Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning.

‘Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning’ premieres January 2

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The three-part series Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning premieres January 2, 2020, at 9/8c on Lifetime, with two more episodes airing on January 3 and January 4. The documentary will feature new interviews with survivors, reporters, psychologists, and cultural and legal experts who will provide insight into the ongoing Kelly saga.

Since Lifetime’s original documentary aired, Kelly has been charged in multiple jurisdictions for crimes including aggravated sexual assault, child pornography, and kidnapping. He’s also been named in several civil lawsuits. The Grammy-winner is currently in jail awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin in 2020. He has denied all the allegations against him.

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Mathew Knowles, Kimberly Foxx, and others will appear in the series

Woman holding 'Mute R Kelly' sign
A demonstrator holds a “#MuteRKELLY” sign at a protest in on January 09, 2019, in Chicago | Scott Olson/Getty Images

In addition to interviews with more women who say they were abused by Kelly, Surviving R. Kelly Part II will feature commentary from a number of experts and people involved in exposing the singer.

Among the people featured in the documentary are Jim DeRogatis, who first reported about a sex crimes investigation into Kelly in 2000 and published Soulless, a book about the case against the singer, in 2019. Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx is also interviewed. After the Lifetime documentary aired, she asked Kelly’s victims to come forward, and in February 2019, her office charged him with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against four women, three of whom were underage.

Mathew Knowles, the father of Beyoncé and Solange, is also featured, along with Damon Dash, Tarana Burke (the founder of the #MeToo movement), comedian W. Kamau Bell, attorney Gloria Allred, and others.

Lifetime is partnering with RAINN on a new PSA that will be broadcast when the documentary airs. After Surviving R. Kelly aired, the organization experienced a 20% increase in calls to its National Assault Hotline, according to Lifetime. The network is also working with other organizations that empower women and support survivors, including Girls for Gender Equity, ‘me too.’, Color of Change, Black Women’s Blueprint, A Long Walk Home,  It’s On Us, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Rise, Biden Foundation Crime Victims Treatment Center, No More, NJ Safe & Sound and The Joyful Heart Foundation.

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How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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