In 2011, Dallas radio DJ Kitti Jones met singer R. Kelly at a concert after-party. She was 33 at the time. Kelly was about 44 and on his Love Letter Tour.
In a six-part docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, that airs Jan. 3 on Lifetime, Jones details her relationship with Kelly and the abuse she says she underwent at his hand.
"He just kind of sized me up a little bit from head to toe, what I looked like," Jones says on the show about first meeting Kelly. "We were just shaking hands really slow, and that's when he slipped me the phone number."
Kelly is a successful singer and record producer, with hits like "I Believe I Can Fly," "Ignition (Remix)" and more. He also is an alleged sex abuser — illegally marrying singer Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27, and in 2002 a sex tape surfaced allegedly showing Kelly having sex with and urinating on a minor.
But that didn't derail Jones from starting a long-distance relationship with Kelly. Eventually, Jones quit her job to move to Chicago to be with Kelly.
"He absolutely told me he loved me all the time," Jones says on the docuseries.
After she had moved to Chicago, Jones says she was back in Dallas and visiting a friend, when the friend asked Jones about the alleged sex tape involving Kelly having sex with and urinating on a minor. At first Jones says she was offended by the question because Kelly was her boyfriend and it was something that would embarrass Kelly, but her curiosity eventually led her to watch the tape.
In her sit-down interview on the docuseries, Jones begins to break down and cry when she explains seeing the tape for the first time.
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"The images were the same girl he had introduced me to a couple of weeks before," she says. "I knew immediately it was the same woman."
(In 2008, Kelly went to trial for the tape but was found not guilty.)
Jones goes on to explain that she felt tricked by Kelly. She says she called him to tell him she saw the tape.
"He began saying things to me I had never heard before," Jones says. "Like, 'Bitch, don't ever accuse me of some shit like that ever again' and 'Who are you listening to? Get your ass back. I'm fucking you up.' Things like that."
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Once Jones returned to Chicago, she says the physical abuse began. He slapped her continuously in the car, she says.
Jones also details the "training" she went through while in the relationship with Kelly. She says she had to ask to use the restroom, she had to stand up when he walked into a room, she wasn't allowed to watch TV (although she says he would watch Dance Moms, "ironically with little girls dancing"), and she had to ask for food.
Jones goes on to detail the rest of her relationship with Kelly in the docuseries, and other women, including Kelly's ex-wife, also give insight into their relationships. Clinical psychologists, journalists and radio personalities also weigh in on Kelly's impact in the music business and how his fame and power affected the women he was with. The founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, also explains how and why Kelly escaped the reckoning many other men faced during the movement.
The first two parts of the six-part docuseries air at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3 on Lifetime.