On Thursday (Dec. 5), the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors accused R. Kelly of bribing an Illinois government official in August 1994 to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah, so he could marry her when she was 15 years old.
That same year, Vibe had reported that an Illinois marriage license for Kelly and Aaliyah had shown that she was 18 years old. The license was dated Aug. 31, 1994, one day after Kelly had allegedly paid the bribe.
The new allegation adds on to an existing racketeering indictment that was filed against Kelly in New York, which accuses him of sexually exploiting and recruiting underage girls. In Kelly’s Brooklyn investigation, prosecutors obtained both Kelly and Aaliyah’s marriage and annulment records, as well as Aaliyah’s birth certificate, which were all filed on Thursday (Dec. 5).
Among the evidence collected includes records from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois secretary of state. NYT reports that the new indictment does not specify which Illinois government agency employee took the alleged bribe.
Since the criminal bribe allegedly took place in 1994, it would usually fall outside the statute of limitations, preventing it from being used in Kelly’s current case. However, due to his broad racketeering charges, prosecutors are allowed to introduce crimes from any time period that were part of the overall accused acts.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” earlier this year, Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, claimed that Kelly had “no idea” Aaliyah was 15 years old when they got married.
“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.
Following this new indictment, Greenberg said the alleged bribe “does not appear to materially alter the landscape.”
The indictment also claims that Kelly’s team coordinated women’s living arrangements with Kelly and that the women were forced to adhere to strict rules while living with him. It also states that the women were isolated from their friends and families, making them financially dependent on the R&B singer.
Kelly is currently detained in federal custody in Chicago. He’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.