“I’m not ashamed of my past anymore. I’m not ashamed of what naysayers say,” said Lanita Carter, previously identified only as “L.C.” in the current open indictment against R. Kelly. In an emotional interview that aired Thursday on CBS This Morning, she broke her silence and a previous non-disclosure agreement to add her voice to the chorus accusing the singer of sexual abuse and misconduct.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims—three of whom were underaged at the time—and is currently out on bond. Speaking with CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan, Carter claims she was 24 years old when Kelly, by whom she’d been employed as a hair braider for over a year, allegedly assaulted her on February 18, 2003.
Called to Kelly’s hotel to braid his hair, Carter says she initially “laughed it off” and declined when the singer she’d previously considered a “perfect gentleman” and “like a big brother” asked for a head massage.
“I didn’t know he was serious,” she said.
Kelly, whom Carter had vehemently defended during his 2002 child pornography case, allegedly then demanded oral sex, pulling her head down by her braids.
“And I said ‘no,’” Carter recounts, demonstrating how she tried to shield herself, as Kelly seemingly spit on her. Few further details are disclosed in the televised interview, but Carter contacted the police the day of the incident, and through DNA, Kelly’s semen was found on the shirt she’d been wearing.
However, charges were never filed; instead, a confidential $650,000 settlement was reached, conditional upon Carter’s silence. As he continues to do, Kelly maintained his innocence.
“Celebrities are powerful. Celebrities have support systems. I have no support system, outside of my immediate family,” Carter said.
However, while Carter was expected to keep quiet, in what has become a sickening motif in the multiple allegations against Kelly, the singer-songwriter later released a 2009 single called “Hair Braider.” The song’s lyrics referenced having sex with a hairstylist, including details disturbingly similar to Carter’s assault accusations.
This time, it was Carter’s turn to silence the artist. The song resulted in another $100,000 settlement and NDA, but also a requirement that Kelly never perform the song or include it on future albums.
But with the release of Surviving R. Kelly and after seeing Kelly’s subsequent interview with Gayle King, Carter, now represented by embattled celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti, told Duncan she felt compelled to speak out.
Duncan: “Did you see the interview that R. Kelly did with Gayle King, in which he denied ever sexually assaulting a woman, ever sexually assaulting anyone underage?”
Carter: “Yes, yes, I saw it.”
Duncan: “What did you think when you were watching that?”
Carter: “I felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell a story—that [he’s] able to get on television and lie.”
Duncan: “Did seeing that interview embolden you to want to speak even more?”
Carter: “Yes. It’s actually the reason that I’m here.”
In what has become a familiar refrain, Kelly’s defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, responded to Carter’s revived claims by telling CBS News:
“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.”
But regardless of whether she is believed or not, Carter stands by her story.
“This is a release,” she tearfully told Duncan. “I’ve been carrying this since 2003. 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.”