R. Kelly Accused of Bribing a Public Official to Marry Aaliyah at Age 15

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Aaliyah in 2000 (photo: Mika Photography (CC by SA 3.0))

R&B singer R. Kelly is now facing bribery charges for the fake ID he used to marry Aaliyah. The charges were revealed in an unsealed indictment this afternoon.

Federal prosecutors in New York’s Eastern District accuse the singer of bribing a public official. The unnamed employee in Illinois granted a fake identification document for “Jane Doe 1.”

Jane Doe 1 in this instance is Aaliyah, the 15-year-old singer R. Kelly married when he was 27.

The revelation was first made in the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary from Lifetime. R. Kelly’s former manager Demetrius Smith revealed he purchased the fake ID. Aaliyah and R. Kelly were then wed on August 31, 1994. The marriage ended a few days later when Aaliyah’s parents forced her to get it expunged.

R. Kelly lawyer Steven Greenberg said his client was “unaware” of Aaliyah’s age when he married her.

“My understanding is that she did not claim to be 15. In order to get married, she had to lie about her age.”

R. Kelly is facing four separate cases in three different states. Charges include kidnapping, forced labor, and possession of child pornography. Other charges include engaging in prostitution with a minor and moving girls across state lines for sex.

He has been imprisoned at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center since he was arrested in July.

Federal prosecutors have used his marriage to Aaliyah as evidence that he is a serial abuser. They argue that he is an “intentional and prolific” abuser of women who should be kept behind bars.

“The government produced in discovery to the defendant the official marriage application, marriage certificate, and annulment records for this marriage. Far from being a one-time mistake, the defendant’s sexual abuse of minors was intentional and prolific.”

R. Kelly met Aaliyah in the early 1990s and helped produce her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Both R. Kelly and Aaliyah refused to comment on their short-lived relationship. Aaliyah died years later in a plane crash while leaving the Bahamas in 2001.