R. Kelly Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charge Accusing Him of Bribing Government Employee
R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to a recent federal charge accusing him of bribing an Illinois government employee.
On Wednesday, the singer and his attorney appeared in New York City courtroom remotely from Chicago, where he remains incarcerated, and entered a not guilty plea on the recent racketeering charge brought forward earlier this month, according to multiple outlets.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused Kelly, 52, of bribing a government employee on Aug. 30, 1994 to issue a then 15-year old Aaliyah Haughton a fake ID, so that he could legally marry her, according to the indictment filed on Dec. 5 and obtained by PEOPLE.
Kelly allegedly had planned to use the fake ID to obtain a marriage license and show that Aaliyah was actually 18 years old and not 15, according to the indictment. Kelly was 27 at the time.
The following day, Kelly married the late songstress in a secret ceremony with allegedly falsified paperwork. Their marriage was later annulled in 1995 with the help of Aaliyah’s family.
Details surrounding Kelly and Aaliyah’s relationship were explored on the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. The series also shed light on the several other sexual misconduct allegations made against him
In the documentary’s first episode former backup singer Jovante Cunningham, who met Kelly at age 14, gives an emotional interview and claims she directly witnessed his sexual encounters with underaged girls in the ’90s, including Aaliyah.
During her interview, Cunningham breaks down recalling when she claims to have discovered that Kelly and Aaliyah had a sexual relationship.
“We were out on the road with Aaliyah,” she says. “On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping.”
“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continues. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”
Kelly and Aaliyah never addressed the reports about the nature of their relationship, but in the documentary, his former personal assistant, Demetrius Smith, claims he was present at the wedding and admits to obtaining false documents for underaged Aaliyah.
“I was in the room when they got married. I’m not proud of that. I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underaged,” he said. “It was just a quick little ceremony, she didn’t have on a white dress he didn’t have on a tux. Just everyday wear. She looked worried and scared.”
Following the annulment, Aaliyah’s career continued to soar until she died tragically in a plane crash in 2001. She was 22.
The new bribery allegation against Kelly expand on the existing indictment brought against him this past summer.
Kelly is currently facing charges of sex-trafficking, sexual assault and child pornography spread throughout Brooklyn, Chicago and Minneapolis.
In June, he pleaded not guilty to 11 felony sexual abuse counts after he was charged by Cook County prosecutors in Chicago in May. The charges included five counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, stemming from one accuser who claimed Kelly abused her in 2009 and 2010 while she was underage.
A month later, the singer was arrested again and indicted on federal charges including child pornography, racketeering and obstruction of justice in both Illinois and New York, indictment documents and his lawyer confirmed.
He has remained jailed since being denied bail.
Then in August, Kelly was charged with two sex crimes in Minnesota after allegedly paying a teen girl $200 to dance nude back in 2001.
Kelly is scheduled to face trial in federal court in Chicago in April for charges of child pornography and obstruction of justice, according to the Associated Press, before standing trial for in Brooklyn in May, Reuters reported.
Kelly has maintained his innocence throughout his legal troubles.