As R. Kelly remains in jail in the wake of his indictment Friday on four separate charges of sexual abuse, a woman involved with his 2008 child-pornography trial — of which he was ultimately acquitted — has written an op-ed in the New York Times in which she recounts her experience and concludes, “This will not end the way it did before.”
Lisa VanAllen also appeared in the videotape at the center of the 2008 trial, which purportedly depicts Kelly having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Kelly was acquitted at least partially because the that girl, who multiple people identified, declined to testify, although VanAllen gave evidence as well. She says she was 17 at the time.
“I was one of the first survivors to call him out in the mid 2000s,” she writes in the op-ed. “I was a ‘me’ before #MeToo. The world had not yet carved a space for survivors, especially black girls, to be heard — in court or in our communities.
“Thankfully, things have changed.”
She then recounts the experience of testifying against Kelly in court, which she describes as “one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.
“I was barraged with questions for three hours, so much so I almost forgot who was on trial. I was belittled and embarrassed. I was dragged for bad things I had done in my past. I was called a ‘streetwalker.’ They wanted me to feel like trash.
“The jury ultimately found Rob not guilty of all 14 counts of child pornography,” she continues. “In the months after I testified, the reaction I faced from the public was overwhelmingly negative. I was called a liar, an extortionist and the girl who had the threesome. Perhaps there were some sympathetic voices, somewhere in the ether. But they were drowned out by Rob’s power, wealth and ‘innocence.’”
She then fast-forwards to the present and the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which she appears, and which has played a large role bringing attention to the decades of accusations of sexual misconduct against Kelly.
“What a difference a decade can make,” she wrote. “Millions of people watched. Rob was exposed as the abuser that he is. And it seems the world is now on my side and the side of every girl or woman who has been abused by Rob, or, by extension, any powerful man.
“It’s been a long time coming, but here we are,” she concludes. “This will not end the way it did before.”
Read the full op-ed here.