A previously unidentified accuser in the current criminal case against R&B singer and accused sexual predator R. Kelly is breaking an agreement to stay anonymous and speaking publicly for the first time.
Lanita Carter, the singer’s former hairdresser, is among the four accusers involved in the 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for which Chicago officials arrested Kelly last month, after the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” catalyzed renewed public attention to the decades of sexual assault allegations against the singer.
“This is a release,” Carter said in an interview with CBS News that aired Thursday. “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.”
Carter, who was 24 at the time of the alleged sexual assault in February 2003, claims that Kelly propositioned her to perform oral sex on him. When she refused, Carter says, he masturbated and repeatedly spat in her face, only stopping when someone knocked on the door.
“Fix your face. Fix your motherfucking face,” Carter says Kelly told her.
According to Carter, she reported the incident to police that same day. A semen sample on her shirt matched DNA from Kelly, but prosecutors decided not to charge him. He later reached a confidential settlement with Carter, denying any wrongdoing and paying $650,000 to silence her.
“Celebrities are powerful. Celebrities have support systems,” Carter said. “I had no support system outside of my immediate family.”
After the Lifetime documentary series in January, officials in Chicago asked accusers to come forward, and Carter responded. Weeks later, Kelly was arrested for the charges brought by Carter, as well as three underage accusers.
“I would be going on with my day, you turn on the news, here’s another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim, and you just want to be there for them,” Carter said Thursday.
In addition to his arrest for the sexual assault charges, Kelly has been in and out of jail for not paying child support to his ex-wife Andrea, who has accused him of domestic violence.
The singer and his lawyer have continually denied the numerous accusations against him, which include sexually abusing teenage girls, running a so-called sex cult and holding women against their will. In 2008, a Chicago jury acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges involving an alleged tape of him sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Earlier this month, Kelly attempted to defend himself in an explosive and belligerent interview with CBS host Gayle King.
Carter said that watching the interview gave her even more resolve to speak out.
“It felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell the story, that he [was] able to get on television and lie,” she said. “It’s actually the reason that I’m here.”
According to CBS News, Carter is being represented by celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti. Avenatti was charged Monday for allegedly attempting to extort Nike and, in a separate case, embezzling a client’s money and defrauding a bank by falsifying tax returns.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.