R. Kelly is facing fresh charges for misconduct against minors that have been carrying on for years.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 2, 2020, and has since been updated.
Trigger warning: Child abuse
Multiplatinum singer R. Kelly, who was once known as the King of R&B, is a piece of work, to say the least. The extent of his crimes only came to light after the six-part docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, and BBC documentary, R. Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes, were released. He faced ten counts of felony aggravated criminal sex abuse in 2019 after that, according to Vulture.
He also faced a new five-count indictment in New York where he was accused of the sexual exploitation of a child, a charge that includes kidnapping, forced labor, and other violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of anyone across state lines for illegal sexual activity (i.e., prostitution and/or rape).
One of the allegations against the I Believe I Can Fly singer is that he bribed an official to be able to marry his mentee Aaliyah when she was only 15 and he was 27. He had produced her debut album, which was ironically called Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. According to NPR, on August 31, 1994, Kelly married Aaliyah Haughton. The official Illinois wedding certificate stated that she was 18.
A quarter-century since the incident, federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York leveled a new charge against the once bestselling singer. He and others in his circle are facing charges for bribing a public official in Illinois to create a fake ID for "Jane Doe #1" aka Aaliyah.
The allegations are not new even though the multiplatinum singer denied it. In a book, Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly, the singer's former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, confessed that he was the one who got a fake ID for Aaliyah, according to NPR. Kelly faced criminal charges for his actions in relation to the now-dead singer only in 2019.
Initially, he had described their relationship as "deep friends" only. Strangely, in the 1990s he was being managed by a man named Barry Hankerson, who was also Aaliyah's uncle. The marriage was annulled within months and Kelly had never spoken about it openly until 2016.
"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 to GQ. "I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close," he said.
Aaliyah was only 22 when she passed away in a plane crash in 2001. And, all these years later, Kelly and his lawyers are dragging her name through the mud. His lawyer, Steven Greenberg, criticized her for pretending to be 18.
"He was married to her when she was 15. Elvis [Presley] was married to Priscilla," he told Good Morning America, brushing away the allegations. "But my understanding," Greenberg continued, "is that she [Aaliyah] did not claim to be 15. And in order to get married, she had to lie about her age." The lawyer added that his client had "no idea" of her true age when they wed.
The 22-year-old, who was on her way to becoming a star, unfortunately, died in tragic circumstances. The R&B singer-turned-actress had flown to the Bahamas to shoot the video for her track Rock The Boat but on the way back to Miami, her 10-seat twin-engine Cessna 402B private jet bound for Opa-Locka, Florida, crashed along with seven members of her crew, as per Mirror UK.
Along with her, video director Douglas Kratz, 28, record label executive Gina Smith, 30, bodyguard Scott Gallin, 41, hairstylists Anthony Dodd, 34, and Eric Forman, 29, make-up artist Christopher Maldonado, 32, and her friend Keeth Wallace, 49, also perished. The jet crashed to the ground 200 feet from the runway and after only a minute of take-off.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) George De Sota (R) Cook County Sheriff’s Office