One of the four women R. Kelly is charged with sexually abusing has spoken out for the first time, telling CBS This Morning the singer forced himself on her and made lewd noises.
Lanita Carter, known in the indictment against Kelly as “L.C.,” braided Kelly’s hair for nearly a year before he allegedly assaulted her in 2003 when she was 24 years old.
Kelly is facing ten counts of criminal aggravated sex abuse involving Carter and three others. He maintains his innocence and is fighting the allegations.
Carter told CBS News’ Jericka Duncan that she reported the assault to police the day it happened. “They asked for my clothing. And I gave them my favorite Tommy Hilfiger shirt,” Carter said. “And that’s where they found DNA evidence.”
“DNA evidence from R. Kelly on your shirt?” Duncan pressed.
“Semen,” Carter responded.
She described the day of the alleged assault, Feb. 18, 2003, as the first time Kelly had ever propositioned her. Prior to that, she’d even stood up for him against child-pornography allegations in 2002. She said she considered him an older brother figure. “Two words: perfect,” Carter recalled telling people when they accused Kelly of child pornography. “I would tell people, ‘Pray for him. Pray for him. I do his hair. He is nothing like what they say.’”
All of that changed on the day of the alleged assault. “I’m not ashamed of my past anymore,” she told Duncan. “I’m not ashamed of what naysayers say.”
She then described that harrowing day. “I get a phone call to come down and do his hair,” she said. “When he came to the room and he asked me for that head massage, and I told him I didn’t do massages, I laughed it off. And I didn’t know he was for real.”
Then she alleged that Kelly forced her head down to his groin. “He pulled my braid down by him. And he said, ‘Suck it for daddy, suck it for daddy.’”
Carter said she resisted. “And I said, ‘No.’ And I did like this,” she said, showing how she tried to pull away. “And he just started going, [gurgling sucking sounds]. He did it, like, six times.”
The assault only stopped when someone came to the door. “He didn’t open the door right away. He says, ‘Fix your face! Fix your motherfucking face,’” Carter told Duncan. “I knew that it’ll be my last day there.”
Carter then went to the bathroom. “I grabbed a wall, and it was a rose-colored towel,” she said, clearly emotional. “I wiped my face. I’m not dressed no type of way. I look at myself in the mirror, like, I'm not a beauty queen. I didn’t perceive myself to be nothing more than just his hair braider.”
“And I was kept thinking to myself, like, ‘Why did this happen to me?’” she said.
After reporting the incident to police, Carter said she eventually signed a $650,000 settlement with the condition she would keep quiet.
“Celebrities are powerful,” she told Duncan. “Celebrities have support systems. I have no support system outside of my immediate family.”
She said that Kelly wrote a song in 2009 about the assault. The song refers to “Zig-zag braids, got ’em looking like spaghettay,” according to CBS This Morning. “That was one of the hairstyles that I was known for doing,” Carter said. “We were on the L-shaped couch when the incident happened.”
Carter decided to come forward in January after watching the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx put out a call for victims of the singer to contact her office. “We need actual witnesses and victims to have the courage to tell their stories,” Foxx said. That’s when she came forward to reopen the case.
Carter said she wanted to share her story with CBS This Morning after the explosive interview the singer gave to Gayle King. “What did you think when you were watching that?” Duncan asked her.
“Felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell a story… that he was able to get on television and lie,” Carter replied.
Duncan then asked if seeing that emboldened her to tell her own story to the network. “Yes,” she said. “It’s actually the reason that I’m here.”