Barry Hankerson claims his sister Diane, Aaliyah’s mother, was aware of the young R&B star’s romantic relationship with disgraced singer R. Kelly. Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle and co-founder of Blackground Records, made the claim during a recent interview with Dr. Oz.
During the chat, Hankerson said he “didn’t have a clue” about Kelly and Aaliyah’s relationship and was “completely ignorant to” the alleged abuse. However, when asked if other members of Aaliyah’s family were aware, he answered, “Yes. I think my sister knew a lot more than what we thought she knew.”
Details surrounding Kelly’s sexual abuse of underage girls and his relationship with Aaliyah have continued to come out amidst the 54-year-old’s federal trial.
Hankerson signed Aaliyah to Blackground Records when she was 12 years old and later introduced her to Kelly, who produced her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. The pair secretly married in 1994 when Kelly was 27 years old and Aaliyah was just 15.
As reported by REVOLT, prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez previously claimed that Kelly married the teenager because he thought she was pregnant.
“One night in 1994, while the defendant was on tour, he got some news about Aaliyah. She thought that she was pregnant,” Melendez told jurors. “This, of course, was a huge problem for him. Why? Because at the time Aaliyah was only 15 years old and if she was pregnant, that meant that there would be questions, a lot of questions… So, the defendant and his circle came up with a plan… that would keep him out of jail if anyone found out.”
Kelly and Aaliyah’s illegal union was later annulled, however, by the teenager’s parents.
More recently, one of Kelly’s former backup dancers testified that she saw the “Bump n’ Grind” singer sexually assault Aaliyah on a tour bus in 1993 when she would have been 13 or 14 years old. The dancer, who is listed in court records as “Angela,” claims Kelly also sexually abused her when she was between 14 and 15 years old.
Kelly is currently on trial in New York for multiple federal charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering. See a clip from Hankerson’s “Dr. Oz Show” interview on Instagram below.