On the heels of Lifetime’s bombshell “Surviving R. Kelly” docuseries and news that the artist and his label, Sony Music Entertainment, have cut ties, a former intern is accusing the embattled R&B star of sexually abusing her as a teenager.
The new claim comes from Tracy Sampson, who interned at Epic Records in summer 1999. Her account, the latest in a chorus of alleged wrongdoing by the artist, will be broadcast on Friday night’s “Dateline NBC,” a preview of which aired on Friday morning’s episode of NBC’s “Today” show.
Sampson told NBC News’ Andrea Canning that she had a relationship with Kelly that allegedly started when she was 16 and lasted until she was 18 years old. She broke it off and later filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.
“I was in love with him. I just didn’t know what to do. Like, I didn’t know if this was normal. I didn’t know if this is how adults acted. Like, I — I just didn’t know. I didn’t know,” a tearful Sampson said in the interview.
Sampson recalled an alleged incident during which Kelly asked if he could kiss her and she told him no. When she agreed to a hug instead, he started kissing her anyway, she said.
Kelly has repeatedly denied all allegations against him and, according to “Dateline,” denied having sex with Sampson. However, the two reportedly reached a $250,000 out-of-court settlement.
The artist and Sony have parted ways as well, The Times confirmed on Friday.
Other entertainers, including Lady Gaga, Celine Dion and Chance the Rapper, have pulled their collaborations with Kelly from streaming services and made public apologies about working with him.
Speaking to “Dateline,” Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, said that Kelly believes that “every one” of his accusers is lying.
“The record companies are abandoning him. Other artists are all of a sudden acting like they’re shocked by these rumors that — that are floating around,” Greenberg added. “He’s having a very difficult time. But he is strong, he’s tough. He wants to put out his music and continue performing for people. And I expect that’s what he’ll be able to do.”