R. Kelly Accuser Lanita Carter Speaks Out: 'I'm Not Ashamed of What Naysayers Say'
By CBS News
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One of the anonymous accusers in R. Kelly's criminal case is speaking out publicly for the first time.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four alleged victims. Lanita Carter is the woman identified in the indictment as "L.C.", R. Kelly's hairdresser. She was 24 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assault in 2003, a secret she harbored for more than 16 years.
Carter said she braided Kelly's hair for more than a year, but saw him as more than just a client. She also considered him like an older brother. She even stood up for Kelly when he was arrested on child pornography charges in 2002.
"Two words: perfect gentlemen," Carter said. "I would tell people, 'Pray for him. Pray for him. I do his hair. He is nothing like what they say!'"
She said Kelly had never propositioned her or asked her to do anything sexual – until Feb. 18, 2003.
"I get a phone call to come down and do his hair… 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," Carter said. "If I could change that day – I wouldn't have been there."
"He pulled my braid down by him. And he say, 'Suck it for daddy, suck it for daddy.' And I said, 'No.' And I did like this. And he just started going, [spitting noises]. He did it, like, six times," Carter added.
Carter said Kelly stopped only after someone knocked on the door.
"He didn't open the door right away. He says, 'Fix your face! Fix your motherf***ing face!'" Carter recounted. "I knew that it'll be my last day there… And I get to the bathroom, and I grabbed a wall, and it was a rose-colored towel… 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 added.
That day, she said she called the police.
"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 asked.
"Semen," Carter said.
At the time, charges were not filed in Carter's case. Shauna Boliker, who was then the lead sex crimes prosecutor, has not responded to our multiple requests for comment.
"Celebrities are powerful. Celebrities have support systems. I have no support system outside of my immediate family," Carter said.
Ten months after the incident, she signed a $650,000 settlement in which Kelly denied any wrongdoing and Carter agreed to keep quiet.
In 2009 Kelly released a song about having sex with a woman who braids his hair. "Zig-zag braids, got em looking like spaghettay," the lyrics said.
"That was one of the hair styles that I was known for doing, that I never did on him," Carter said. "We were on the L-shaped couch when the incident happened."
That song led to another confidential settlement – this time for $100,000. Kelly again denied any wrongful conduct but agreed to never perform the song or include it in future albums.
In January, following the uproar sparked by the Lifetime docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, Carter responded to a plea by the current Cook County state's attorney, Kimberly Foxx, for victims to call her office. "We need actual witnesses and victims to have the courage to tell their stories," Foxx had said.
"I would be going on with my day, you turn on the news, here's another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim, another R. Kelly victim. And you just – you just want to be there for them," Carter said.
Carter said she saw Kelly's interview with CBS This Morning Gayle King in March where he denied all accusations. "I didn't do this stuff. This is not me! I'm fighting for my f***ing life! Y'all killing me with this sh*t!" Kelly had said in the explosive interview.
"What did you think when you were watching that?" Duncan asked.
"Felt like it should be a crime to publicly tell a story… that was able to get on television and lie," Carter said.
"Did seeing that interview embolden you to want to speak even more?"
"Yes. It's actually the reason that I'm here," Carter said.
Kelly's defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, told CBS News: "These allegations were fully investigated by the police and prosecutors... And a decision was made, after evaluating all of the evidence, not to bring any charges."
"I know that I love myself today. I know that I don't care what anybody say about me," Carter said.
"This is a release. I've been carryin' this since 2003," she added with tears streaming down her face. "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."
We interviewed Carter the day after her attorney, Michael Avenatti, was charged with embezzlement, extortion, and other federal crimes. He continues to represent her. The Cook County state's attorney declined to speak about Carter's claims, citing department policy against commenting on open cases.
This story was originally published by CBS News on March 28, 2019 at 7:38 a.m. ET.