Published: Fri, December 06, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Kelly Charged with Bribing Official to Marry Aaliyah

Kelly Charged with Bribing Official to Marry Aaliyah

The late R&B singer Aaliyah, posing backstage at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1995.

R. Kelly is now facing a bribery charge for paying off a public official over two decades ago so he could marry Aaliyah when she was 15 and he was 27, according to a new indictment unsealed Thursday. He wrote and produced her hit debut album "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number". It's been widely reported the wedding took place on August 31.

According to federal docs, obtained by TMZ, prosecutors say that Kelly and others bribed an IL government employee in order to obtain a "fraudulent identification document" for Aaliyah.

The new charge is an addition to a sweeping set of federal indictments filed against Kelly in July by prosecutors in NY and IL.

The Brooklyn prosecutors had already charged R. Kelly with racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and sexual exploitation.

A judge in Brooklyn denied singer R. Kelly's request for bail, saying he's a flight risk and has a history of obstruction and witness tampering; Jacqui Heinrich reports.

The allegation of a forged identity document made for Aaliyah is not new in itself.

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The fake ID was used to obtain a marriage license that listed her age as 18, one of Kelly's former tour managers, Demetrius Smith, revealed in Lifetime's "Surviving R. Kelly" documentary.

Tragically, years later in 2001, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash. The couple is accused of using falsified paperwork that stated she was 18, which is the age someone must be to marry without parental consent in IL, at the ceremony.

In 2016, Kelly told GQ, "Well, because of Aaliyah's passing, as I've always said, out of respect for her mother who's sick and her father who's passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone". She gave me a look like she wanted me to talk to her.

Defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he would review the indictment in greater detail, but "at first look it does not appear to materially alter the landscape" of his client's case. "He was married to her when she was 15. And in order to get married, she had to lie about her age".

R. Kelly's attorneys have long maintained he was unaware of Aaliyah's age when they married.

In most instances, 25-year-old allegations would be outside of legal statutes of limitations.

The new charge was added to an existing, sweeping, federal racketeering indictment against Kelly, which accuses him of coercing several women, including at least two underage girls, into illegal sexual activity.

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