The (legal) hits keep on coming for R Kelly. Already facing two separate federal indictments, as well as state charges in both Illinois and Minnesota, the disgraced R&B singer was slapped with another criminal charge on Thursday.
According to The New York Times, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged Kelly with bribery in connection with his one-time marriage to Aaliyah. At the time of their marriage in 1994, Aaliyah was underage, just 15 years old (whereas Kelly was 27).
Prosecutors say Kelly bribed an Illinois government employee in order to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah that listed her age as 18 years old, enabling the pair to marry. Their marriage was later annulled, and Aaliyah tragically died in a plane crash in 2001.
Through his lawyer Steven Greenberg, Kelly maintains that he was unaware Aaliyah was only 15 at the time of their marriage. “My understanding is that she did not claim to be 15, and in order to get married, she had to lie about her age,” Greenberg said in a past interview with Good Morning America.
However, a recently surfaced video from 1994 contradicts Kelly’s claim. In the clip, which is taken from a documentary, Kelly is seen expressly acknowledging Aaliyah’s age. “Right now I’m producing a very talented lady — a young lady,” Kelly narrates in one of the scenes, adding, “She’s 14, Aaliyah. She’s real street.”
The bribery charge is part of a federal case against Kelly filed in New York. Prosecutors in that case have also charged Kelly with racketeering and violations of the Mann Act, as well as with having unprotected sex with a young woman without telling her “he had contracted an infectious venereal disease.” Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all the charges alleged against him.