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R. Kelly performs at the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium February 8, 2002 in Salt Lake City, UT.
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‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ Part 4: The Legal System’s Inadequacies And The Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The Lifetime docu-series outlines Kelly’s child pornography case and other legal troubles.

Readers note: This recap may be triggering to those who have experienced sexual assault.

Part four of the Surviving R. Kelly docu-series chronicled the events following Kelly’s arrest for 21 child pornography charges in June 2002. It also called into question whether the legal system provided adequate protection of Kelly’s alleged victims.

After the arrest, Kelly pleaded not guilty and posted bail. A year later, Kelly was arrested for child pornography charges in Miami. Police found photographs of Kelly having sex with an underage girl at his Florida home. In March 2004, the judge overseeing the Florida case concluded that the photos were obtained illegally and could not be used as evidence in court. The case was dropped.

Amid many allegations, lawsuits, videotapes, and a pending criminal case, it was business as usual for Kelly. In February 2003, Kelly released his fifth studio album the Chocolate Factory which spawned the hits “Ignition” and “Step in the Name of Love.”

“It deterred us away from all the allegations and our focus then became on the music,” said Tracii McGregor, media and music executive.

During this period, Kelly’s ex-wife contemplated climbing on a ledge and dying by suicide. She eventually left him with $2500 and their three children. Psychologist Dr. Candice Norcott pointed out the difficulty of leaving an abusive relationship, citing that it takes the victim an average of seven attempts to break it off for good.

While Kelly neglected father and husband responsibilities, he was attempting to buy his way out of his legal troubles. His attorneys accused his brother Carey Kelly of being the man on the tape, which Carey Kelly denied. R. Kelly reportedly offered Carey Kelly $100,000 if he did a deposition stating the allegations against Kelly were untrue. He declined.

Sparkle was offered six figures for a sit down with Kelly and the media, to say there was no issue between them. “I didn't take the money because I can’t be bought,” she said.

Although he was charged in 2002, the case did not go to trial until 2008. When it commenced, Kelly’s fans, many black women and girls, showed up to show him support. One of them was Jerhonda Pace, a 14-year-old high school freshman. Pace said she was raised by a single mom and because her mother was busy, it was easy for her to skip school to go to the trial. Outside the Cook County courthouse, she crossed paths Kelly and later entered a relationship with him after the trial.

The prosecution’s case focused on the tape and 14 witnesses, including the victim’s friend and basketball teammate Raven Gengler and their coach, Jacques Conway. They both believed Sparkle's niece was the girl on the tape.

But Sparkle says her niece’s mother denied it was her daughter. Sparkle’s brother also denied.

In the end, the jury returned a not guilty verdict. One juror, John Petrean said he didn’t believe the women who testified against Kelly. “I disregarded all that they said,” he admitted.

“I think that Robert wasn’t convicted because my niece and sister and brother-in-law didn't come forward,” said Sparkle. “Regarding criminal cases, if there is not a willing participant than really there is no case.”

In the aftermath, Kelly dodged questions about his alleged pedophilia in the media. During an interview on BET, journalist Touré asked Kelly, “Do you like teenage girls?”

“I have some 19-year-old friends, but I don’t like anyone illegal if that’s what we’re talking about,” Kelly said.

Even with this information out there, it was like Kelly’s acquittal absolved him, hip-hop journalist Miss Info expressed.

As for Andrea Kelly, she and R. Kelly finalized their divorce in 2009. By then he had stopped paying child support, she claims. Kelly said her decision to speak out about her experiences wasn’t because Kelly stopped giving her money. “The checks have been over for a very long time,” she said.

With the trial behind him, Kelly began a relationship with Pace when she was 16. His rules for Pace mirrored accounts given by other Kelly accusers: Call him “daddy”; give him updates about their movements; don’t speak to other men. When she disobeyed, Kelly slapped and starved her. The longest she went without eating was three days.

During their first sexual encounter at his home, Pace told him she was a virgin.

“He said, ‘Well that’s perfect,'” said Pace. “That means I get to train you and I get to take your virginity.”

A former employee, who spoke anonymously in the documentary, noticed Kelly’s system of abusing girls revolved around isolation. “They couldn’t have communication with other people,” they said.

Back in 2009, Pace brought Kelly another girl, her friend 17-year-old Dominique Gardner. Gardner’s mother Michelle Kramer, found out from a friend that her daughter was seeing R. Kelly.

She notified the authorities but because Gardner was 17, the legal age of consent in Illinois, they could not take legal action. Part four ends with a preview of Kramer and other parents of Kelly’s alleged victims’ fight to see their daughters again. Kelly has isolated these women from their families.

Part 5 and Part 6 of Surviving R. Kelly air on Saturday, January 5 at 9 pm ET on Lifetime TV.

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Jussie Smollett attends the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 60th Anniversary Opening Night Gala Benefit at New York City Center on November 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

'Empire' Camp Says Jussie Smollett Never Complained About Salary

The accusations made towards Jussie Smollett in the alleged staged assault has those close to the actor-musician scratching their heads–including his Empire family.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday (Feb. 21), sources close Empire were surprised to hear a salary increase was the motive behind the actor's reported staged attack in January. The Illinois state prosecutor stated in a press conference Smollett paid two brothers to orchestrate a homophobic racist attack in an effort to get his star rising and his pockets heavier. But those close to the Empire set believe that can't be the case since as he was most recently paid $125,000 per episode.

"I don't think it's true that he was unhappy with what he was being paid," the source told THR. "His representatives never once called and there was no effort to renegotiate. He's never expressed any dissatisfaction."

Created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, Smollett's base pay was in the $40,000 to $50,000 region but after setting record-breaking ratings in the first season, the main characters received a big increase with Smollett receiving $125,000 per episode and esteemed actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrance Howard moving from $110,000-$120,000 per-episode to the  $225,000-$250,000 range. Aside from season one, there are 18 episodes from season two to season five.

The actor has officially been cut from the last two episodes of the fifth season to avoid "disruption on set."

"While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out, a statement from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer reads. "We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

Smollett has also maintained his innocence throughout the entire case. Alternative motives have pointed to a boost to his music career but the actor also seemed to be pleased with that as well.

Speaking to VIBE just after the release of his debut album Sum of My Music, the actor was pleased with his journey outside of Empire.

"Here’s the thing, I’m not ashamed of Empire songs. I wrote a lot of them," he said. Empire's soundtrack was a hit with fans as it climbed to the top of the Billboard charts in 2015.  "I’m proud of the work I’ve done with Empire. I just can’t be only Empire, that’s not all I am."

His project moved 7,000 units and views on his YouTube channel views have been modest with "Catch Your Eye" feature Swizz Beatz reaching 620,000 views and audio of "F.U.W." reaching 1.1 million spins. His most popular song on Spotify isn't an Empire-related track, it's "Ha Ha (I Love You)" from Sum of My Music.

As the case might to go trial, one can only hope the full truth will be revealed.

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Big Boi To Play Motown Founder Berry Gordy In DeBarge Biopic

Big Boi has reportedly been cast as Motown's legendary founder Berry Gordy in the upcoming biopic about Bobby DeBarge. The rapper confirmed the news on Instagram on Thursday (Feb. 21).

"Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the Debarge movie. Coming Soon," Big Boi announced on Instagram. The photo showed an acting chair with his name and Gordy's printed on the backrest.

Bobby DeBarge was the lead singer of R&B group Switch, an act signed to Gordy’s Motown Records imprint Gordy Records. Known for his  impressive falsetto, DeBarge quickly shot up to stardom during the late 70s. He later co-produced for his siblings' band, also named DeBarge, before joining the group himself.

Amidst his success in music, he struggled with substance abuse and legal issues. He died in Aug. 1995 of AIDS complications at the age of 39.

The Bobby DeBarge Story is slated to premiere on TV One sometime this year.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Just finished playing Berry Gordy in the “ Debarge “ movie @swirlfilmsig 🎬🎥🔥 coming Soon ! 🆙

A post shared by Big Boi (@bigboi) on Feb 21, 2019 at 8:21pm PST

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Welcome To The Jam: 'Space Jam 2' Gets 2021 Release Date

It looks like we've got a real jam going down, and it will all happen in a few short years. According to Springhill Entertainment's Twitter page, the official release date for Space Jam 2 will be on July 16, 2021.

The follow-up to the 1996 Looney Tunes-heavy film starring Michael Jordan will star LeBron James this time around. Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler will produce it, and Terence Nance is directing, which were revealed in summer 2018 with a pretty cute promotional photo.

Filming will reportedly begin this summer, and we're certain we'll find out more high-profile cast members within the next year. James' production partner discussed the possibility of Michael Jordan appearing in the second film, but only time will tell.

"Michael Jordan is Michael F**kin' Jordan," said Maverick Carter. "It doesn't matter [if James] calls him, he's gonna do whatever the hell he wants, which he has earned that right to do."

The first film features basketball stars Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Larry Bird and more, and features a pretty memorable cameo by Bill Murray. Danny DeVito voices Swackhammer, the owner of outer space theme park Moron Mountain. He and his tiny group of aliens steal the talent of NBA players to win a basketball game against the Looney Tunes, which could determine the cartoons' fate.

July 16, 2021 🎥🏀🥕 #SaveTheDate pic.twitter.com/qV1Tnxuksd

— SpringHill Ent. (@SpringHillEnt) February 22, 2019

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