A private screening of a Lifetime documentary series premiere exploring the sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly was cancelled following a bomb threat targeting the New York City venue where alleged victims were set to speak.
CNN reports that local law enforcement recommended the theater at NeueHouse Madison Square be evacuated after an unknown caller claimed there was a gun in the theater, and said that someone would start shooting if the film “Surviving R. Kelly” continued to play.
A spokesperson for Lifetime told CNN that “several anonymous threats were called in,” but it is not known if a single individual or multiple people made the threats.
“As a precaution, the network chose to evacuate the building. The safety and security of our panel, guests and staff is of paramount importance to Lifetime,” the network said.
Several women who have accused R. Kelly of sexual and psychological abuse were reportedly set to speak following the screening.
Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the #MeToo movement and who appears in the film, was present at the event and told CNN that the venue was evacuated about a half-hour into the screening..
“These women who come forward to tell their stories are innocent victims. They volunteered to put their lives on display — they don’t deserve this kind of harassment.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, R. Kelly has been accused of operating a so-called “sex cult” out of his properties in the Chicago and Atlanta areas, where multiple former resident and family members of current residents say that women are being highly controlled by the R&B star; who allegedly controls what they wear, when they shower and eat, when and if they can leave the residence, and demands they perform sex acts. R. Kelly has denied all the allegations through a publicist.
R. Kelly’s ex-wife Drea Kelly, who was at Tuesday night’s event, wrote about the incident in a guest column for Rolling Stone.
“The first thing that came to my mind — and I can’t speak for anyone else — was that [R. Kelly] had this shut down,” Drea Kelly wrote.
“I believe it was somebody connected to him. This was an outside inside-job to me; someone on the outside does not want what’s going on on the inside to be completed. Whoever it came from, they know that this is not a good thing because there’s power in numbers.”
A representative for R. Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.
“Surviving R. Kelly” will air on Lifetime on January 3.
[Feature image: Al Powers/ Powers Imagery/Invision/AP]