NEW YORK (AFP) - One of the accusers in a criminal sex abuse case against R. Kelly has spoken publicly about her ordeal for the first time, describing coming forward against the R&B singer as a "release".
"I've been carrying this since 2003," Ms Lanita Carter told CBS news in an excerpt of an interview set to air on Thursday (March 28).
"I have had to sit on a public bus and watch public conversation: 'Did you hear about what they did with R. Kelly? They need to leave that man alone.' And I can't stand up for myself."
Ms Carter is one of four women involved in a case brought by Chicago prosecutors who charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Three of his alleged victims were underage while Ms Carter was 24 at the time of her attack.
She said while working as Kelly's hairdresser, he tried to force her to perform oral sex. When she resisted, he allegedly masturbated on her.
According to court documents, a shirt she submitted for DNA testing matches his profile.
Through tears, Ms Carter spoke of her struggle coming forward against a global celebrity as powerful as Kelly.
"If I die tomorrow, I know that I told the truth," she said. "It's hard when it's a celebrity. It's not easy.
"You can talk about me. You can not like what I'm saying about your favourite singer... But this is my life, this is my truth."
The abuse described in the criminal case against Kelly - who is out on bail - is alleged to have occurred between May 1998 and January 2010.
The details echo previous accusations of sexual misconduct that have followed the artist for the last two decades.