The theatrical, tearful interview R. Kelly conducted with Gayle King was nothing more than a performance, according to Kelly’s former associate, Sparkle. The two Chicago singers worked together back in the 1990s when Kelly signed Sparkle, real name Stephanie Edwards, to his Rockland record label. The two even collaborated on Sparkle’s chart-topping track “Be Careful,” but their friendship quickly fizzled when police called Sparkle to verify information. She was shown a video of Kelly engaging in sexual activity with a young girl who Sparkle identified as her 14-year-old niece.

The singer would take the stand against Kelly in his 2008 criminal trial, but Kelly was subsequently acquitted. Sparkled participated in the Surviving R. Kelly documentary to share her story, and now she’s saying that Kelly’s recent interview isn’t as it seems. “Robert is always on stage,” Sparkle told TMZ. “It’s always a performance for him. I mean, not to say that the breakdowns weren’t real for him. I feel like he understands now that this is real. For real this time. There are many others who have come out against him.”

She continued, “I was the first person to come out back in 2001 for a tape that shows my niece, 14-years-old at the time, she was, on the tape. It was a horrendous time for me. Just bringing this all back up wasn’t great for me. I didn’t want to be apart of the Surviving R. Kelly piece. Thankfully, my manager talked me into it. And then, with Dream Hampton being at the helm, I was like…a black woman…she wanted me to share my story and not have anyone tell it for me and possibly lie. So, I was happy to do that and she wanted to celebrate me in being the first person to actually step forward.”

“I’ve said many times, at first, that I didn’t want him to go to jail because he seriously needs help,” Sparkle said. “As you can see with the Gayle King piece, the breakdown is absolutely crazy. And then…I want him to get the help, but I think he needs to sit in a cell and reflect on everything that he’s done because he’s not taking accountability for anything. Everybody’s lying except for him, which is a problem.”