Jada Pinkett Smith is taking on the explosive R. Kelly abuse claims in the first of a two-part episode of her Facebook series The Red Table Talk, which will be released later today — and PEOPLE has an exclusive sneak peak of her talk with one accuser, Lisa Van Allen.
Flanked by Pinkett Smitt, daughter Willow, mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Dr. Candice Norcott, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, Van Allen opened up about her own heartbreaking experience with the R&B star.
“People say, ‘Once they found out she was 14 why didn’t you turn him in?’ Because I loved him. I wanted to help him get better first because that’s how we work as far as love goes,” she says during the round table discussion. “I’m not going to call the cops on someone I love. I’m going to try to figure out how to help you and what I can do to save you.”
But as she realized that “he didn’t want help,” her feelings began to change.
“Once I realized he couldn’t be saved — he didn’t want to be saved — he would tell me things like: ‘My mama told me if you love a man, you don’t try to change him.’ The older I got it was like, ‘Boy, that’s some bull.'”
These new claims have surfaced as the result of a shocking new docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly, which aired on Lifetime from Thursday, Jan. 3 to Saturday, Jan. 5. The series features wide-ranging interviews with Kelly’s family members, former friends and colleagues, but most notably, women who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls.
Representatives for Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, previously responded “no comment” to PEOPLE’s request for a response to the allegations made in the docu-series and interviews with alleged victims in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
Pinkett Smith is one of the many celebrities who have denounced Kelly on social media. On Sunday, the 47-year-old actress shared a video tweet in which she reacted to reports that Kelly’s Spotify streams increased 16 percent after Lifetime aired part one of the documentary.
“So I got an article this morning about how R. Kelly’s music sales and his streams have spiked substantially since the release of Surviving R. Kelly docu-series,” she began. “And I’m having a really difficult time understanding why. But I think it’s important to understand why.”
She continued, “I really would like for you guys to help me understand what I’m missing. Even if I’m missing something that I don’t necessarily agree with. I just want to understand what I’m missing.”
The New York Times reports that investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in Georgia contacted Gerald A. Griggs, the lawyer for Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, on Monday. Timothy and Jonjelyn claim R. Kelly is holding their daughter, Joycelyn Savage, against her will. The couple was interviewed in the docu-series, along with numerous other women.
“We hope that it will turn into a fruitful investigation and it will result in the return of Joycelyn Savage to her family or, at the very least, that she start opening continuous conversations and interactions with her family like she had before she met Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Griggs told PEOPLE on Wednesday.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has declined PEOPLE’s request to comment, as did the Atlanta and John’s Creek police departments.
TMZ also reported that the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into the allegations made in the docu-series, adding that investigators reached out to Asante McGee, who spoke to PEOPLE about her experience escaping from Kelly’s residence.
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However, a representative for McGee has denied that she has been contacted by authorities.
While no charges have currently been brought in Kelly’s other residence of Chicago, Cook County state attorney Kim Foxx held a press conference on Tuesday to encourage any victims to “please come forward.”
“If we are going to take these allegations seriously — it isn’t one of those situations where it’s just forensics, we need actual witnesses and victims to have the courage to tell their stories,” she said. “We cannot do anything related to these allegations without the cooperation of victims and witnesses.”
In 2008, a Cook County jury found Kelly not guilty on 14 counts of child pornography charges.
Foxx added that her office is talking to two families whose loved ones had been in contact with Kelly.
“I was sickened. I was sickened by the allegations, I was sickened as a survivor, I was sickened as a mother, I’m sickened as a prosecutor,” she said of the docu-series. “I’ve worked in this office for a number of years including in 2008, and so the allegations were not new to me, but I think listening to survivors and giving the platform for survivors to tell their stories was heartbreaking.”
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.