Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Triggered Me

Last week, Lifetime captivated over two million viewers when they premiered parts one and two of a six-hour-long docuseries titled, “Surviving R. Kelly.” 

Minute-by-minute, the audience heard anecdotes from, now, women, who survived the clutches of The Pied Piper of R&B. The documentary left no stones unturned to reveal what most of the world has known about R. Kelly, he’s a predator. 

But, out of all those interviewed, it wasn’t Robert F. Kelly’s personal assistant or his jailbird older brother Bruce Kelly or almost every person over 18-years-old who were present during the “Bump and Grind” singer’s alleged action, who pissed me off the most.

Nope. It was John Petrean, the lone juror from R. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County. Statutory rape was not on the table for R. Kelly’s case because there was no complainant and all the government had was to charge him with child porn. 

Once chosen, the jurors and alternates are sworn-in under oath and make a promise to listen to all the facts of the case and determine the accused’s fate.

A jury is described as 12 selected men and women whom represent the defendant’s peers. Those jurors are picked from a cluster of other potential panelists after a thorough question-and-answer portion conducted by the judge, defense attorney(s) and prosecutor(s) — a process called voir dire.

Unlike the O.J. Simpson trial, R. Kelly’s was not broadcasted live. This documentary allowed the audience to hear the testimony from the mouths of some of the prosecutor’s witnesses which included a survivor, who identified the 14-year-old R. Kelly was accused of filming and performing sex acts with. 

Although several of R. Kelly’s alleged — hate to use this word, but legally he has avoided a conviction — victims have come forward on their own, they’re still victims and in my opinion should remain anonymous under the rape shield laws.

Nevermind that the victim-in-question’s own relative testified that the child in the highly-circulated VHS tape wasn’t their kin or that R. Kelly denied being in the tape and threw his younger brother Carey Kelly under the bus.

The jurors had another survivor, who admitted to having threesomes with R. Kelly and the child in the video and identified everyone in the tape. 

Yet, the jurors declined to convict and “not guilty” headlines were splashed on the front pages of newspapers across the country. 

Over a decade later we finally get a perspective from inside the jury room. What do we hear from John Petrean?

In no particular order, John Petrean disrespectfully, yet, honestly said during part four of the series: “I did not like the way they dress,” “The womens, I just dont believe them” and “I disregarded all that they say.”

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What in holy hell does the survivor’s attire during this horrific, stomach-churning trial have to do with the evidence presented?

Was she supposed to show up to court in rags, hunched over with bruises all over and dried up blood on her forehead for John Petrean to believe she also was a survivor and is able to identify the girl in the film?

Forget that it took all of her to muster up the courage to come forward and testify against R. Kelly or as his own ex-wife Andrea Kelly called him a “monster.”

Remember, a jury is a collection of men and women who represents peers of the defendant. The fact that John Petrean admitted that the way a witness was dressed distracted him enough to disregard key testimony, is exactly why R. Kelly was acquitted, allowed to go free into society and proceed with his life.

The fact is, this society has deep-rooted issues when it comes to sex, women and respect of others. As archaic as the penal laws are, they were created because someone did something that called for said action to be declared felonious, a violation or a misdemeanor.

But, as time goes by, those crimes diminish into slap-on-the-wrist or not taken seriously enough to result in a conviction. Instead, urinating on someone on video is spun into jokes on primetime television or groping someone’s private parts without permission are seen as pranks.

Lack of respect for one another is what caused R. Kelly to continue to be a free man. 

So what can we do? #muteRKelly don’t allow him to think his actions are or were okay. Hit him in the wallet. 

Sigh, unfortunately, our community goes through these sparks of outrage and then gets over it in the next breath. Sadly, while many are protesting to “Step In The Name Of Love” I expect to hear DJs still play it and see predators walk out of court unscathed because a juror blamed a survivor for being present next to their assailant. 

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