Lanita Carter R. Kelly, “Lanita Carter R. Kelly”.
On Thursday, CBS This Morning aired another exclusive interview regarding the R. Kelly case: a sit-down with Lanita Carter, who had remained anonymous before her interview. Carter spoke publicly for the first time about the alleged 2003 assault that led to Kelly’s arrest in February. “I’m not ashamed of my past anymore,” Carter said. “I’m not ashamed of what naysayers say.”
Speaking with CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, Carter said she was 24 years old when the alleged assault occurred. She was Kelly’s hairdresser and considered him an older-brother figure, she said—even defending him as he denied child pornography charges in 2002, of which he was eventually acquitted. On February 18, 2003, however, she alleged that she was called down to do his hair—and subsequently assaulted.
“When he came to the room and he asked me for a head massage and I told him I didn’t do massages, I laughed it off,” Carter told Duncan. “And I didn’t know he was for real. If I could change that day, I wouldn’t have been there. He pulled my braid down by him and he said, ‘Suck it for daddy. Suck it for daddy.’” When she said no, she alleged, he spat on her roughly six times—until someone knocked on the door. “He didn’t open the door right away,” Carter said. “He said, ‘Fix your face. Fix your motherfucking face.’”
Most recently, Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four alleged victims. `Per CBS News, Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, responded to Carter’s allegations with a statement: “These allegations were fully investigated by the police and prosecutors . . . and a decision was made, after evaluating all of the evidence, not to bring any charges.”
Carter said she called the police the day the alleged assault occurred, providing them her clothing; she said they found DNA evidence against Kelly in the form of semen on her shirt. Charges were not filed at the time; Shauna Boliker, then the lead sex-crimes prosecutor, did not respond to CBS News’s requests for comment. “Celebrities are powerful,” Carter told Duncan. “Celebrities have support systems. I have no support system outside of my immediate family.”
Carter and Kelly initially settled for $650,000; Kelly denied any wrongdoing, while Carter agreed to keep quiet. The two also reached a subsequent $100,000 settlement over a 2009 song and music video, in which Kelly sang about having sex with a hairdresser and included some details that mimicked the circumstances of Carter’s alleged assault. Kelly once again denied wrongdoing, but agreed not to perform the song or include it on future albums, CBS reports.
Following Surviving R. Kelly—and especially after Kelly’s explosive interview with Gayle King—Carter said she was compelled to speak out to help his other alleged victims. “You just want to be there for them,” she said, adding that after watching Kelly’s interview, “it felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell the story—that he’s able to get on television and lie.”
Now, however, Carter is emboldened: “I know that I love myself today,” she said. “I know that I don’t care what anybody say about me.”
“This is a release,” she added. “I’ve been carrying this since 2003. . . . Every time I tried to pick myself up again, I felt like something on the news brought me back to what I thought I swept under the rug. Today—today I say: no more. You can talk about me. You can not like what I’m saying about your favorite singer. But this is my life . . . This is my truth. This is what I have. If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth.”