Lanita Carter, R. Kelly accuser, speaks publicly for the first time
NEW YORK — R. Kelly’s former hairstylist who has accused the singer of sexually assaulting her is speaking out about what she says happened.
Lanita Carter is one of four alleged victims whose accusations helped lead to Kelly’s arrest in Chicago in February, “CBS This Morning” reported Thursday.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse against him.
The other three alleged victims have never been publicly identified. Two of the victims were 16 years old, one was between 14 and 16, and the fourth was 24, according to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s description of the evidence.
Carter was 24 at the time of the 2003 alleged sexual assault.
Carter spoke to Jericka Duncan in a segment that aired Thursday on the CBS News program.
“I’m not ashamed of my past anymore,” Carter told Duncan. “I’m not ashamed of what naysayers say.”
Carter said she was Kelly’s hair braider for more than a year and described him as a “perfect gentleman” whom she would often defend to others.
“I would tell people, ‘Pray for him. Pray for him. I do his hair,’ ” she said. “He is nothing like what they say.”
All that changed, she said, on February 18, 2003, when she received a call to come braid Kelly’s hair.
Carter said the singer requested she give him a head massage and she told him she didn’t do massages.
“I laughed it off and I didn’t know he was for real,” she said. “If I could change that day, I wouldn’t have been there.”
She said he then pulled her head down by her braid and demanded oral sex.
She alleged during her CBS interview that Kelly stopped assaulting her when someone knocked on the door.
“I’m not dressed no type of way. I look at myself in the mirror, I’m not a beauty queen,” she said. “I didn’t perceive myself to be nothing more than just his hair braider. And I kept thinking to myself, like, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ ”
Carter said she contacted police the same day.
Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, told CNN that the singer was on bail in a 2002 case during the time Carter alleged she was assaulted.
If Kelly had been charged after Carter went to police, his client’s bail would have been revoked, and he would have gone to jail, according to Greenberg.
In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography resulting from a videotape of him appearing to have sex with a young girl. The case later was reduced to 14 charges, and the singer, who maintained his innocence, was acquitted.
“Chicago police did an extensive investigation … ,” the lawyer wrote in an email about Carter’s allegations. “The (state’s attorney’s) office decided not to charge up. I think that speaks volumes about the strength of the case.”
He added, “Unfortunately our rules restrict any more in-depth discussion of the facts of a now pending case.”
According to Carter, police asked for her clothing and found DNA from Kelly — his semen — on her shirt.
At the time of the announcement of the recent indictment, prosecutors revealed graphic details about the accusations against Kelly. Among the revelations was that one of the alleged victims provided authorities with a shirt she wore during an alleged encounter with Kelly, which later tested positive for his DNA.
Kelly was not charged then, and Carter said 10 months later she received a $650,000 settlement from the singer in which he denied any wrongdoing and she agreed not to talk about the alleged incident.
She said she also received a confidential $100,000 settlement after Kelly released a song in which he sang about having sex with a woman who braided using a pattern for which Carter was known. In addition to the money, Carter said, Kelly agreed no longer to perform the song or include it on any future albums.
Kelly’s attorney, Greenberg, didn’t respond Thursday to questions about a settlement.
After Lifetime aired “Surviving R. Kelly” in January documenting decades of allegations of sexual misconduct against Kelly, Foxx, the Cook County state’s attorney, made a plea to hear from potential witnesses and those who said the singer had victimized them.
Carter said she was inspired to go public with her story after seeing Kelly’s emotional interview with CBS’ Gayle King earlier this month in which he tearfully denied all the allegations.
“This is a release. I’ve been carrying this since 2003,” Carter said. “I don’t want to be in the public. But this is my life. … If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth.”