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R. Kelly pleads not guilty on bribery charges related to marriage to 15-year-old Aaliyah



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R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges stemming from his 1994 marriage to teen pop star Aaliyah.

Kelly’s attorney entered the not guilty plea to the superseding indictment on behalf of the embattled singer in federal court Wednesday in Brooklyn, while Kelly was on a remote video feed from federal lock-up in Chicago.

“The judge just wanted to make sure Mr. Kelly understood all the proceedings because it is known that (Kelly) does not read or write exceedingly well, except when it comes to amazing musical tracks,” his attorney, Douglas Anton, told USA TODAY. “So he said yes (he understood). He was in very great spirits.”

On Dec. 5, prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York announced a revised indictment with new bribery charges related to Kelly’s marriage to Aaliyah, who was only 15 years old at the time.

In addition to multiple sex crimes, Kelly is now charged with scheming with others to pay for a “fraudulent identification document” for someone identified only as “Jane Doe” on Aug. 30, 1994.

A day later, Kelly, then 27, married 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah Dana Haughton in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. Under pressure from her parents, the marriage was annulled months later because of her age.

Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash on August 25, 2001, in the Bahamas. She was 22. She had just completed filming for the music video for her single “Rock the Boat.”

Anton has called the latest charge against his client “ridiculous and absurd.”

R. Kelly in Chicago on May 9, 2008, and the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah in New York on May 9, 2001.
R. Kelly in Chicago on May 9, 2008, and the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah in New York on May 9, 2001.

Kelly has already entered not guilty pleas to more than a dozen sex-crime charges filed against him in two federal courts and two state courts since February. The Brooklyn indictment includes charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and sexual exploitation.

As it currently stands, Kelly is tentatively scheduled to face trial in the federal case in Chicago in April and in the federal case in New York in May, with the state case in Chicago scheduled for September.

If these dates hold, he would face trials in three courts in two states in a six-month period of 2020.

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