'Surviving R. Kelly' Accuser on R. Kelly Claims in #MeToo Era: "They're Believing Now"

Courtesy of CBS News
Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards

"He really needs to get help. And then they can send him off to jail," says Sparkle, a former collaborator to R. Kelly who testified in the R&B singer's child pornography trial.

R. Kelly's former collaborator, Sparkle, whose real name is Stephanie Edwards, was the first woman to publicly accuse the R&B singer of misconduct when, in 2002, she claimed her underage niece was the girl featured in the infamous R. Kelly sex video. After participating in the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, Sparkle is continuing to speak out.

"I was the first person who spoke up and out against him and did it alone," the singer said on CBS This Morning on Monday. "I introduced my entire family to Robert, not just my niece. I feel partially responsible for the introduction."

Sparkle had introduced her niece to R. Kelly in hopes that he could help the aspiring young teen with her music career. When the infamous tape later circulated, Sparkle says she only had to watch for a few seconds to know the young girl on the tape, then age 14, was her niece. Sparkle was a key prosecution witness at R. Kelly's trial for child pornography, but her niece, sister and brother-in-law — who had become R. Kelly's guitarist — refused to testify and R. Kelly was acquitted in a case that took six years to come to trial in 2008.

When speaking to CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, Sparkle, who is estranged from her family, said she still did not know if her family settled or had an agreement with R. Kelly, something she also said on Surviving R. Kelly. 

If Sparkle's niece is still with R. Kelly, as has been reported, Sparkle says she is concerned for her safety. "Mentally, the girls, he's got them brainwashed. I'm really scared of that," she says of the multiple women allegedly being held against their will by the R&B singer.

By resurfacing her claims, along with many others, Surviving R. Kelly is making an impact in the case of R. Kelly amid the #MeToo and #MuteRKelly movements. Artists are apologizing for their collaborations with R. Kelly, who has been dropped by his record label RCA Records at Sony Music; and prosecutors in Chicago, New York and Atlanta are seeking information in response to the claims made in the docuseries.

"Black women, we don't get the same notoriety or interactions, so to speak, as our white counterparts," said Sparkle. "And I wanted that to change. Now, they're believing them. They're listening more."

She concluded, "I hope Robert gets help. He really needs to get help. And then they can send him off to jail."

R. Kelly's attorney Steve Greenberg told CBS News that Sparkle's claims were "absurd." R. Kelly himself has denied all accusations.