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Jury Will Hear About R. Kelly's Illegal Marriage

Prosecutors say he married Aaliyah, 15, so she couldn't testify against him
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2021 6:41 AM CDT
Jury Will Hear About R. Kelly's Illegal Marriage
This photo from Wednesday June 26, 2019, shows R&B singer R. Kelly arriving at the Leighton Criminal Court in Chicago for arraignment on sex-related charges.   (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky, File)

(Newser) – R. Kelly's federal sex-trafficking trial will begin with jury selection Monday—and the jury will be allowed to hear about the R&B singer's secret marriage to 15-year-old protege Aaliyah in 1994, a judge ruled at a pretrial hearing this week. US District Judge Ann Donnelly said the prosecution's allegation that Kelly, then 27, married the underage girl because he thought she was pregnant and wanted to make sure she couldn't testify against him was "clearly relevant" to a racketeering charge, according to a transcript seen by USA Today. The marriage was annulled months later. The judge said prosecutors will be allowed to present evidence that Kelly had "sexual contact" with Aaliyah when she was as young as 13, Page Six reports. Kelly allegedly bribed a public official to create a fake ID for Aaliyah, who died in a 2001 plane crash.

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Kelly has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of racketeering, bribery, coercion, enticement, and sex trafficking, the AP reports. Prosecutors say the 54-year-old led a "criminal enterprise" of bodyguards and other employees that recruited women and underage girls for sex and pornography. He has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for the last two years. At the Tuesday hearing, lawyer Devereaux Cannick said his "funds are depleted" and asked for transcripts to be provided at no cost. Cannick also said Kelly had gained weight while incarcerated and asked how he could get measurements so Kelly could be provided with "appropriate attire for his trial." "I'm not taking his size," the judge replied, per Page Six. (Prosecutors say Kelly also had "sexual contact" with an underage boy.)

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