UPDATED: R. Kelly’s ex-wife Drea says that she believes a gun threat that caused an evacuation at a New York City screening for Lifetime’s upcoming documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” was connected to the singer.
“I can’t speak to what he would or would not do because I don’t know what his mindset is right now,” she told Variety. “But I would say that I don’t believe in happenstance, I don’t believe that anything is a coincidence. I do believe that in some shape, form or fashion it is connected to him. Now, whether he orchestrated it or not, that I cannot say. But I just do not believe in coincidences. Of all the theaters, of all the nights, of all the premiers, it happened with us.”
The evacuation took place around 15 minutes into a talk that followed the screening, in which the seven accusers featured in the film were to speak about their experiences with the singer, who has been accused of sexual misconduct multiple times over the past 20 years. The venue received two anonymous, threatening calls in which the caller claimed someone had a gun in the theater; the calls were routed to local police, who advised the evacuation.
Among the seven accusers was Drea Kelly, who has claimed in recent months that he beat and bound her, among other abuses, during their 10 years of marriage; the pair separated in 2005 and divorced the following year. The other accusers are Kitti Jones, Asante Jones, Faith Rodgers, Lizzette Martinez, Lisa Van Allen and Jerhonda Pace. Drea Kelly spoke with Variety around four hours after the evacuation; a rep for R. Kelly declined Variety‘s request for comment. “Surviving R. Kelly” premieres on Lifetime January 3.
Did you anticipate any kind of incident like this tonight?
Not in a million years. I did not think anything remotely close to this would happen.
What was the reaction of the other accusers?
First of all, I would have to correct you in saying “accusers”: It’s survivors. But we were all blindsided. It’s a little disheartening, but at the same time there’s a little victory behind it. And what I mean by that is, you feel like after all the pain — reliving the memories, dealing with the PTSD, pouring your soul out into this documentary to help save lives — you kind of feel like this is my night of vindication, people are going to hear about it… and then the disappointment of feeling the rug has been pulled out from under you.
But I will say that whomever is behind it and whatever their goal was, if they thought it was something that was going to dismantle us or crush us in any way it actually did the opposite. All they did is unite even more than we already were, and all they did was let us know that we are doing a mighty work and we will not be stopped.
Have fans made threats that were this extreme before?
I don’t know of any superfans who have done things like this, but you just have to look at the temperature of the world right now — the craziness and the killings. Where humanity is right now, I don’t put anything past anybody.
It’s more about society. At the end of the day we’re women of color. This would not be happening if I was a 17, 18, 25 or 40-year-old Caucasian woman in America. He would not have gotten more than one chance to do this.
If all or even some of the accusations are true, how does he get away with it?
I can’t speak to that because I’m not in his camp, but when you have a team of enablers anything is possible. He is one person: he doesn’t have a doppelganger, he hasn’t been cloned, so he is not working alone. If he’s on the basketball court then we also need to look at the man who’s booking the hotel rooms; if he’s on the stage singing we have to look at the person who’s driving the bus. It’s a team that’s helping facilitate and keep him sick and make more victims.
What happens next?
I know some people might think a situation like being evacuated is the worst thing that could ever happen, but this is the best thing that could happen to us. We are united and we’re not going anywhere. That documentary was not done in vain. And now people will want to know, “What was it they did not want to be seen?”