TMZ reports that R. Kelly’s lawyer is threatening to sue Lifetime because of claims made in their forthcoming documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which premieres tonight.
Kelly’s lawyer Brian Nix reportedly sent Lifetime a letter stating that the documentary contains lies and that he will file a federal lawsuit if the network doesn’t cancel the premiere.
The documentary series, which unfolds in six episodes over three days, includes interviews with several of Kelly’s accusers, people formerly in his inner circle, journalists, and even his own family members. Included in the documentary are descriptions of Kelly’s alleged sexual relationship with underaged singer Aaliyah, reports that he preyed on teen girls in Chicago high schools, and the alleged abuse Kelly inflicted on several young women, including his ex-wife Drea Kelly.
This is not the first time Lifetime’s documentary has been under threat. A December screening of the series featuring a Q&A afterwards with several accusers had to be canceled after an anonymous gun threat was called into the theater. “Someone that would want to do that is obviously trying to cover the truth,” accuser Lizzette Martinez told Jezebel after the gun threat. “We’re standing together as survivors and we will not back down.”
Update, 2:01 p.m.: Lifetime responded to Kelly’s lawsuit threat telling TMZ the documentary will air and that the network “has always been a brand that champions women’s stories.”
Aaliyah’s mother also disputes the show’s claims that her daughter had sex with R. Kelly when she was 15 in a statement to E! News. She wrote:
My daughter only wanted to realize her dream of sharing her talent with the world, and give her all performing on stage and in front of the camera for the fans she adored so much. She realized that dream, thanks to those true fans who still love and support her legacy unconditionally to this day. Shame on all those involved in this project who thought it kosher to drag Aaliyah’s name into a situation that has nothing to do with her today. Once again, this will not be tolerated.