R. Kelly Survivor Pens Emotional Op-Ed After Singer Is Charged With Sexual Abuse

Chance Yeh/Getty Images
Lisa VanAllen

Lisa VanAllen, who appeared in Lifetime's 'Surviving R. Kelly' doc and testified during Kelly's 2008 trial, explains the moment she finally "felt believed" in an op-ed for The New York Times.

R. Kelly survivor Lisa VanAllen penned an op-ed for The New York Times that was published on Monday morning. VanAllen — who appeared in Lifetime's six-part Surviving R. Kelly docuseries with other alleged victims — elaborates on the emotional and physical abuse she says she suffered at the hands of the disgraced R&B singer and his team in the piece.

VanAllen also reflects on her feelings after Kelly was recently charged with sexually abusing four victims dating back to 1998. Kelly was arrested Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four females, three of whom were minors. He remains jailed after a judge on Saturday set bond at $1 million. (Kelly's attorney has since entered not guilty pleas on the singer's behalf.)

"I finally allowed myself to feel vindicated. All of the victims were echoing one another," wrote VanAllen, explaining the relief she felt after watching Surviving R. Kelly with her 16-year-old daughter. "I was no longer alone on a deserted island. Finally, I felt believed."

VanAllen testified against Kelly in 2008 when he was acquitted of 14 counts of child pornography relating to an alleged sex tape involving a 14-year-old girl. VanAllen — who was 17 when she entered a relationship with Kelly — was the only other person to appear in the video and gave evidence as the prosecution’s main witness. 

The 14-year-old girl in question refused to testify in the case. "Her parents refused to admit she was in the video; they failed her," VanAllen wrote. "So I was the one left to shut up."

VanAllen wrote that she felt "belittled and embarrassed" during that time because of the intimidation she felt from Kelly's legal team and staff. "I was dragged for bad things I had done in my past. I was called a 'streetwalker,'" she explained. "They wanted me to feel like trash."

VanAllen said that Kelly's victory in the case pushed her to support other accusers a decade later. "I was one of the first survivors to call him out in the mid 2000s. 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," she wrote. "Thankfully, things have changed."

VanAllen remembered that, more than 10 years ago, Kelly's supporters and the general public branded her a "liar, an extortionist and the girl who had the threesome."

Now, she is hopeful that the public's response to Kelly's latest round of allegations — sparked by the discovery of additional tapes showing the singer engaging in alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with minors — will be more empathetic.

"It’s been a long time coming, but here we are. The documentary, the #MeToo and the #MuteRKelly movements and the brave people speaking their truth or organizing for change have led to new indictments against Rob and opened peoples eyes," VanAllen wrote of the singer, whose legal name is Robert Kelly. "If convicted, he could face up to 70 years in prison."

She concluded, "More than 10 years after I nervously faced Rob in court, I know one thing: This will not end the way it did before. It cannot."

Read VanAllen's entire op-ed here.