explainer

Everything you need to know before you watch the controversial 'Surviving R Kelly' tonight.

— With AAP.

Surviving R Kelly, the documentary series which sees multiple women make allegations of emotional, sexual and physical abuse against R&B artist R Kelly, will air in Australia tonight.

The six episode Lifetime series, which will air on Channel Nine and 9Now, sheds light on the allegations of abuse which have plagued the singer’s career since the early 1990s.

The first episode of the series which will air on Australian screens tonight mainly focuses on Kelly’s childhood as well as his rise to fame and his illegal marriage to then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah.

Watch a clip from documentary Surviving R Kelly below. Post continues after video…

In February, the 52-year-old pleaded not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted three teenage girls and a woman in alleged incidents dating back to 1998,  just weeks after the shocking documentary series was first released in the US.

Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, could face up to seven years in prison for each of the 10 counts if convicted.

With Kelly vehemently denying the allegations, we decided to take a look back at the history of allegations against the singer.

Here’s everything you need to know before you watch Surviving R Kelly.

1994

In 1994, at 27 years old, R Kelly married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah.

The illicit relationship was first exposed when Vibe magazine published a copy of a marriage certificate, which showed the pair had wed in Illinois on August 31 1994. The document stated that Aaliyah was 18 years old at the time, when she was in fact just 15.

Speaking on the documentary, R. Kelly’s former personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, claimed to be present for the ceremony: “I’m not proud of that. I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underage. It was just a quick little ceremony. She didn’t have on a white dress. He didn’t have on a tux. Just everyday wear. She looked worried and scared.”

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Smith claimed the marriage was annulled by her parents the following year.

It’s believed Aaliyah cut personal and professional ties with R Kelly after the annulment. She refused to speak publicly about the relationship in the years that followed.

aaliyah r kelly
In 1994, R Kelly married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah. Image: Getty.

1996

In 1996, Tiffany Hawkins sued R Kelly for "emotional distress" during a lengthy relationship with the performer.

According to court documents, Tiffany began having sex with R Kelly in 1991, when she was just 15. Kelly was 24 at the time.

2001

In 2001, R Kelly was sued by Tracy Sampson, an intern at Epic Records, who claimed he induced her into a sexual relationship with him when she was underage.

"He often tried to control every aspect of my life including who I would see and where I would go," Tracy said, according to court documents.

2002

In 2002, Kelly was sued by two more women.

Chicago woman Patrice Jones claimed the singer impregnated her when she was underage. She was later forced to have an abortion.

Another woman, Montina Woods, alleged Kelly had videotaped them having sex without her knowledge or consent.

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Both cases were settled out of court and non-disclosure agreements were issued to both women.

Later on in the year, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography when he was accused of filming a minor participating in a number of sex acts – including one scene where a woman was reportedly urinated on.

The jury eventually found the singer not guilty, as they were unable to prove whether the girl videoed was underage.

Not long after, he was charged with another further 12 counts of making child pornography when police seized a camera at Kelly's property which reportedly showed Kelly having sex with a minor.

The charges were later dropped as Kelly's defence team argued that police didn't have enough evidence to justify searching his property.

R Kelly documentary allegations
The allegations have continued to build for years. Image: Getty.

2005

In 2005, Kelly's second wife Andrea Kelly was granted an emergency protective order against Kelly after she alleged he physical abused, harassed and stalked her.

Andrea, who has three kids with the singer, married the star in 1996.

The pair separated in 2005 as Andrea filed for a restraining order.

2017

In 2017, Buzzfeed published a report accusing the singer of trapping young women in a 'sex cult'.

The allegations came from the parents of several women and three former employees of Kelly.

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Kelly has since denied the allegations.

Following the release of Buzzfeed's report, Jerhona Pace spoke out about having sex with Kelly when she was underage.

Another woman, Kittie Jones, also alleged the star had physically abused her and coerced her into a sexual relationship.

2018

In 2018, the #MuteRKelly campaign was launched in an effort to encourage record label RCA to cut ties with Kelly.

The campaign also called on streaming services including Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music to remove his music from their playlists.

In the same year, the singer was also sued by a former partner who claimed he infected her with an STD intentionally.

r kelly australian tour
R Kelly. Image: Getty.

2019

In January, Lifetime aired shocking six-part documentary Surviving R. Kelly.

The documentary series saw multiple women accuse the singer of sexual abuse, physical abuse and even starving them.

The series, which is now available to stream on Foxtel’s On Demand service and airing on Channel Nine tonight, features 52 interviews from abuse survivors and people from Kelly’s inner circle coming forward with new allegations against the singer.

The series also detailed all the allegations against the singer to date, including many of those mentioned above.

On January 18, Kelly's record company RCA dropped him as an artist following the release of the documentary.

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In February, R Kelly was charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse. He was arrested after turning himself into police.

Authorities confirmed the charges were in relation to four victims, with at least three of them being minors.

In March, R Kelly denied sexual assault charges against him in a heated interview with CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King

In his first interview since the indictment, Gayle King asked Kelly about allegations that he had sex with women under 18 and that he was physically and verbally abusive.

"Not true," the Grammy-winning singer responded in a clip of the interview played on the CBS Evening News

The singer grew angry and emotional as the interview went on, turning to make his argument directly to the camera. "That's stupid. Use your common sense," he said.

On the same day that the interview aired, Kelly was arrested once again for failing to pay his ex-wife Andrea Kelly more than $160,000 in child support.

Surviving R Kelly will air on Channel Nine tonight at 9:40pm. It will also be available to watch on 9Now.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual assault or abuse, please seek help and contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

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