Lanita Carter was 24 years old and R. Kelly’s hair dresser in 2003 when the singer allegedly sexually assaulted her. Carter is one of the anonymous victims in the criminal case against Kelly (identified in the lawsuit as “L.C.”), and she spoke publicly about the alleged assault on CBS This Morning, in an interview that aired Thursday.
Her interview reveals the shocking ways that Kelly may have manipulated those around him and allegedly forced them into sexual acts. Before her alleged sexual assault, Carter saw Kelly like an older brother and defended him when he was faced child pornography charges in 2002. “I would tell people, ‘Pray for him, pray for him,’” Carter tells Jericka Duncan, “‘I do his hair, he is nothing like what they say.’”
On February 18, 2003, Carter says she got a call to do Kelly’s hair and the singer asked her for a head massage. When she said she didn’t do massages and laughed, he forcefully pulled her head down by her braid and told her to “Suck it for daddy.” When Carter said no and put her hand in front of her face, he spat on her six times, according to Carter.
Later, someone knocked on the door and Kelly told Carter to “Fix your face. Fix your motherf—king face.” Carter goes on, through tears:
“I knew that would be my last day there. And I get to the bathroom [...] 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 just kept thinking to myself, ‘Why did this happen to me?’”
Carter says she called the police that same day, and they found Kelly’s semen on her shirt. Charges were not filed, and Carter agreed to a $650,000 settlement with Kelly less than a year later. That might have been the end of it, but Kelly also released a song called “Hair Braider” in 2008 that Carter says matched several details of her alleged assault; the two agreed to a $100,000 settlement in which Kelly agreed never to perform the song. As part of both settlements, Kelly denied any wrongdoing.
Carter explains that part of the reason why she wanted to publicly recount the details of her alleged sexual assault is that she saw Gayle King’s explosive interview with Kelly. “This is a release,” she says. “I 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.”
Michael Avenatti is Carter’s attorney in the criminal case against Kelly. Duncan notes that the interview with Carter was taped the day after Avenatti was charged with extortion and wire and bank fraud.