It was 2001, and Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards took the stand to testify against Robert “R.” Kelly, the man who dubbed her his protegé, in connection with an alleged sex tape involving her 14-year-old niece.
Cut to 18 years later and Sparkle is faced with having to do that once again — this time for four unrelated victims, in relation to the 10 counts of aggravated assault. Three of the victims were allegedly underage at the time of the assault. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to the New York Times, prosecutors involved in the current case have informed the 43-year-old singer that it’s possible she may be called to testify against the 52-year-old R&B singer known as “The Pied Piper of R&B.”
“Sparkle, she loves her family, they need to know that,” Sparkle’s brother, Bennie Edwards noted to the Times. “I love them as well, but the truth—the truth is the truth at the end of the day, and that’s all it is.”
“Growing up, she was the one who always blew the whistle and told,” her longtime manager and boyfriend Bruce Wayne recalled in the Times story. “This is, I guess, her call of duty.”
As The Root Staff Writer Jay Connor wrote in the recap of Surviving R. Kelly’s second broadcast night on Lifetime:
Last night introduced the infamous sex tape into the fold, in which Kelly is seen allegedly urinating on an underage girl. While the identity of the victim is withheld, former protégé Stephanie “Sparkle” Edwards asserts that the girl in the video is her niece—the same niece she introduced to Kelly when she was only 12-years-old.
“I should have never introduced her to him. I should have never introduced my family to him. How dare (he)?” she tearfully laments. “On the tape, my niece has the same hairstyle she had when she turned 14. That was her, for sure. And that was him. Definitely.”
Now, living in the era of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, Sparkle assessed the differences between then and now.
“You know, I was thinking back to a time before was a MeToo,” Sparkle noted about her new single ‘We Ready’, “it was just me.”
This was especially Sparkle’s frame of thought prior to Surviving R. Kelly executive producer dream hampton reaching out to her to tell her story for the Lifetime documentary.
“I didn’t think it was for us,” Sparkle said in the NYT interview, noting she didn’t expect for R. Kelly to be a target, “for black people.”