More than a decade after testifying against R. Kelly, singer/dancer Stephanie "Sparkle" Edwards is facing a new wave of criticism.
Days after she appeared in the explosive six-part docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, Edwards sat down with SiriusXM host Clay Cane to discuss the sexual abuse allegations against the "Ignition" artist. Edwards was a key witness in Kelly's 2008 child pornography case, which stemmed from a 2002 leaked sex tape that allegedly showed Kelly having sex with an underaged girl. Sparkle—Kelly's former collaborator—claimed the child in the video was her 14-year-old niece, whom she introduced to Kelly when she was only 12.
Many people have criticized Sparkle for even allowing her young niece to be near Kelly, especially in light of his relationship with a 15-year-old Aaliyah. Sparkle told Cane she was convinced that the Aaliyah marriage reports were part of a hoax and that she never saw Kelly do anything inappropriate with Aaliyah.
"Look, Aaliyah's uncle Barry Hankerson was Robert's manager [...] So, you know, that's not a question that everybody should be asking me," she said. "I didn't see anything with the Aaliyah thing. Even on the Age Ain't Nothing But A Number CD—I didn't sing on Age Ain't Nothing But A Number [...] I had no interaction at all."
Sparkle went on to say that she questioned the legitimacy of the Kelly-Aaliyah scandal, as she didn't believe the late singer's uncle—Kelly's former manager Hankerson—would've allowed it.
"Who thought that was real? You know what I mean I thought that was a hoax that that's not real, you know? That was my naiveté of thinking that it wasn't real because like again, Barry Hankerson was there," Sparkle said. "This shouldn't and couldn't have happened. I'm thinking, 'Now this is a hoax. [Aaliyah is] only 15. Oh, this is nothing. He can't marry a young girl.' So, you know, didn't think anything of it. [...] Well, after I saw the marriage certificate and I was like, OK, maybe there's something to it. But again, I'm thinking the uncle was there, the parents are there. This can't be."
Because of her working relationship with Kelly, Sparkle has been accused of turning a blind eye to the singer's alleged abuse. Some say Sparkle ignored red flags because she didn't want to ruin her fledgling career; however, the Chicago native insists that wasn't the case.
"Like, hear me: I did not know. Had I known when it first jumped off, I would have reacted the same way I reacted when I did know," she said, referring to the 2002 sex tape. "I called the authorities even prior to the tape [coming] to my knowledge. I got phone calls from his inner camp, from a couple people, saying something wasn't right and that I should be looking into this."
However, she claims her sister, brother-in-law, and niece told authorities that the claims were false. Sparkle said she reached out to authorities again in 2001, after she became aware of the sex tape.
"I did what I was supposed to do and what was right. I didn't hesitate. Not a second. I was on the phone with them," she explained.
Sparkle also said she believed the public has unfairly criticized her, especially in the last several days, following the premiere of Surviving R. Kelly.
"I sat there for four and a half, five hours speaking the truth, and you may see 10, 15 minutes of me in the documentary, and there were things left out," she said. "There was things spliced up, and you know, I've wished that Lifetime would release the unedited versions of everything that I stated."
You can listen to Sparkle's comments via SoundCloud below.