R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charge Over Getting a Fake ID to Marry Aaliyah at Age 15
By Zach Seemayer
JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images
R. Kelly pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of bribing a public official in 1994, in order to obtain a fake I.D. for his 15-year-old girlfriend, singer Aaliyah, which would enable the two to wed. The singer filed his plea and appeared in the New York City courtroom on a television screen via video chat from Chicago, where he is currently jailed.
According to legal documents obtained by ET on Dec. 5, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are accusing Kelly of bribing a government employee in Illinois for the false I.D. that listed Aaliyah's age as 18.
According to the documents, prosecutors allege that Kelly, "together with others," paid an official for "the creation of a fraudulent identification document" for a "Jane Doe." The alleged incident is said to have occurred on or about Aug. 30, 1994.
Kelly, then 27, is believed to have wed Aaliyah on Aug. 31, 1994. Kelly's former tour manager, Demetrius Smith, claimed in several interviews -- most recently in the documentary Surviving R. Kelly -- that he facilitated the purchase of the fake I.D. on Kelly's behalf, in order for the two to get married.
Kelly and Aaliyah long denied that they had ever gotten married. However, their illegitimate marriage was legally annulled by a judge in Michigan at the request of Aaliyah's parents in February 1995. Aaliyah later tragically died in a plane crash in August 2001 at the age of 22.
The new bribery charge was added to existing racketeering indictment filed against Kelly in the Eastern District of New York. The charges allege, in part, that Kelly coerced underage girls into illegal sexual activity.
Steven Greenberg, Kelly's lawyer, said in an interview with Good Morning America earlier this year that the R&B singer had "no idea" Aaliyah was underage when they married, and accused the late singer of having lied to Kelly about her age.
Greenberg said in a statement released to The New York Times that he planned to review the bribery charge further but "at first look it does not appear to materially alter the landscape" of the case against his client.
Kelly, who has denied all charges and allegations that have been brought against him, was arrested in Chicago in July, and faces four different sets of charges in three separate states. He is currently in jail in Illinois. His trial in Brooklyn is scheduled to commence in May 2020.
For more on Kelly's ongoing legal drama, watch the video below.