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Prosecutors: Here's How R. Kelly Married Aaliyah, 15

Singer, others accused of bribing public official in Illinois to get fake ID for her
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2019 6:31 AM CST
Updated Dec 6, 2019 6:51 AM CST
This combination photo shows singer R. Kelly after the first day of jury selection in his child pornography trial at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on May 9, 2008, left, the late R&B singer...   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – R. Kelly is facing a new federal charge tied to his marriage to the late singer Aaliyah, his teenage protege, who was just 15 at the time. Federal prosecutors in the eastern district of New York say Kelly, then 27, and others bribed a public official in Illinois to create a fake ID for a "Jane Doe" on the day before the Aug. 31, 1994, wedding. Their Illinois wedding certificate gave Aaliyah Haughton's age as 18. Kelly's former tour manager and personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, admitted to obtaining the fake ID in Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly. "I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underaged," he said, per the Guardian. He told the same to journalist Jim DeRogatis, who included the claim in his book Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly, reports NPR. Kelly's lawyer, however, has put the blame on Aaliyah.

In January, Steven Greenberg said Aaliyah "did not claim to be 15. And in order to get married, she had to lie about her age." He added Kelly had "no idea" about her true age. Their marriage was annulled months later. Greenberg now tells the New York Times that the bribery charge "does not appear to materially alter the landscape." A 25-year-old alleged bribe would normally fall outside the statute of limitations, but prosecutors say it occurred as part of a criminal enterprise. Under a racketeering charge, Kelly is accused of leading an enterprise "to recruit women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity." The 52-year-old heads to federal court in Chicago in April to stand trial on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges. He will then face federal charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor, sexual exploitation, and now bribery, in Brooklyn. (Read more R. Kelly stories.)

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