Kitti Jones says she was sexually assaulted by R. Kelly, and it was her voice and that of other alleged victims that were amplified in the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. Jones was joined by the documentary’s executive producer Brie Miranda Bryant on Sunday for a panel conversation at Deadline’s The Contender Emmys.
“I came forward in September or October of 2017,” Jones said. “I did stand alone when I first came forward and it was a very scary experience. There were rumors flying about what others experienced with him before but there was never anyone standing firm in a story. There was no face attached to it, so it was hard for people to forget.
Even with me meeting him around the time of the trial, I didn’t have a reason to not want to date him or support him. We were still playing his music on the radio and people were open to supporting him. The biggest thing for me since coming forward is the impact that we’ve made.”
A topic that gets repeatedly brought up when discussing stars with sexual abuse allegations is whether or not you can separate the art from the artist. Should fans be able to support music by someone like Kelly?
“It’s different for each individual,” Jones added. “I don’t think that when people are listening to a song that they like that they’re thinking specifically about the artist. I think they’re probably thinking of the moment they first heard that song like at their wedding or a family reunion.
So I think that journey is really individualistic.”
With allegations against the singer going back decades, Bryant credits the #MeToo movement with helping people to finally be ready to pay attention to victims of sexual assault.
“The foundation of this is really the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement,” she explained. “I think without those foundations, the world wouldn’t have been ready to hear the brave things these women had to talk about in Surviving R. Kelly. It started a global conversation.
So when you talk about what justice looks like, I think for individuals it’s different. For each one of the survivors its different. I think that conversation that needed to be had was a conversation around sexual violence.”
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