While R.Kelly sits in jail awaiting trial, a new charge has been brought against him and this time it’s related to his marriage to the late singer Aaliyah 25 years ago. On Aug. 31, 1994, Kelly married Aaliyah with an official Illinois wedding certificate that stated that she was 18 and now federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York allege he bribed a public official in Illinois to create a fake ID for “Jane Doe #1” (reportedly Aaliyah). The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment about whom the fake ID was meant for, and the indictment didn’t mention the wedding, but an anonymous person familiar with the investigation confirmed to the AP it’s referring to Aaliyah.
This marks the first time he faces criminal charges for his marriage to Aaliyah, which happened when she was 15 and he was 27. In the recently published book, Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly by Journalist Jim DeRogatis, R. Kelly’s former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, said that he got a fake ID on Aaliyah’s behalf, which he also shared in the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
R.Kelly worked with Aaliyah when she was an up and coming singer, producing her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, and their marriage was annulled after a short time. Aaliyah died at 22 in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001.
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. Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally. But I can tell you,” he added, “I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we were very close.”
He is currently in prison, without bail, after he was indicted on 18 charges back in July, including sexual exploitation, child pornography production, kidnapping, forced labor, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. Kelly has denied all charges against him and his attorneys maintain that he was unaware Aaliyah was underage.
Defense attorney Douglas C. Anton, who is handling R. Kelly’s New York case, called the new bribery charge “an absolute absurdity, backed by more innuendo and baseless accusations.” “To think that the Federal Government has nothing better to do then go back 25 years and address a ‘fake ID’ charge makes their whole case weaker,” Anton told NBC News.
The 52-year-old singer is being held without bond and is scheduled to stand trial in federal court in April in Chicago on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges and he then faces trial in Brooklyn. He was acquitted in 2008 on charges of videotaping himself having sex with a girl who prosecutors allege was 13 years old.
It’s hard to imagine any semblance of innocence in the face of these charges and a clear history of relations with underage girls and to say he was “very close” to Aaliyah while then saying that he had no idea of her age is also problematic.