Days after speaking out against R. Kelly as part of the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, which featured multiple women who have accused the rapper of both sexual and physical abuse and predatory behavior, John Legend is responding to his own critics. On Monday, Jan. 7, some twitter users attempted to use an old photo of him and Harvey Weinstein to call the artist a hypocrite, and Legend had some words in response.
The photo of Legend, Weinstein, and Legend's wife Chrissy Teigen was taken at a pre-Oscar dinner in 2016, according to ET Canada, one year before New York Times' bombshell report accusing Weinstein of rampant sexual misconduct came out in October 2017. And yet, it resurfaced this week when it was posted by Twitter user @DesAnika123 on Monday, Jan. 7. "@johnlegend please explain??" they asked. "I dont remember you publicly denouncing this man!!!" The user implied the singer's hypocrisy in speaking out against Kelly, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, which date back to 1994, while questioning if he's been as vocal about Weinstein, who has been accused of rape, sexual assault, and other sexually predatory behavior by dozens of women. Weinstein has been charged with sexual assault and is awaiting trial in New York. (Weinstein has also denied all allegations against him.) But Legend's response refused this premise entirely, even going so far as to identify the use of the photo as a way to silence those speaking out against Kelly's alleged behavior — something he's not willing to do.
Legend quickly responded late Monday night, explaining that he "took a photo with and worked with Harvey on several occasions before his abuse was known to me and the rest of the world."
Legend continued, writing, "Since his being exposed, his company and career have rightfully been destroyed and he's been indicted. Sounds like something that should happen to R Kelly."
It's important to note that many people, not just Legend, took photos with Weinstein before the allegations of misconduct were made. However, dragging out these photos today aren't evidence of their support of Weinstein; instead, they're a victim blaming tactic. In fact, Weinstein's lawyers have used these kinds of photos of the disgraced Hollywood mogul's accusers with Weinstein looking rather chummy to discredit them.
Furthermore, Legend has spoken out about Weinstein, telling the U.K. Sunday Times in March, "We all heard jokes, like, ‘You’ve got to sleep with Harvey to get a part.’ I never knew if it was based on truth or rumor. I’m glad we know now." He also talked about how Weinstein is part of a bigger problem in Hollywood and beyond. "Sexism is a problem in every industry," he told the paper, "but now people are learning there are consequences."
And yet, when someone questioned why he hasn't spoken out more about Weinstein, Legend responded, tweeting that "no one asked me to be in a Harvey doc," but that he's "friends with the #SurvivingRKelly director" Dream Hampton "and several protestors in the #MuteRKelly movement so I had a personal connection and agreed to appear." He added, "I don't just go around interviewing for every exposé. This is dumb."
Legend isn't going to let people critique him for posing with Weinstein at an event that preceded the public awareness of the allegations against him. And he's definitely not going to let people use it to undermine his support for R. Kelly's alleged victims. "If y'all wanna cape for R and discount all these women's stories just say it," Legend tweeted. "Don't bring up some old pics of me and somebody else."
In another series of tweets, Legend stated what he thinks should happen to Kelly following the docuseries, and it should sound familiar to anyone following the end of Weinstein's career and current legal troubles. "Believe the victims, expose the rampant predatory behavior," he tweeted, "career destruction and indictment with convictions hopefully in the future."
With Legend's Twitter statements he makes it clear he will not stop speaking out for what he believes. And what he believes is these women.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.