The embattled R&B singer was accused by the Eastern District of New York of bribing an Illinois state official as part of a scheme to procure a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah to marry her in a secret ceremony. At the time of their marriage (which was later annulled), Aaliyah was 15 while Kelly was 27.
This is the first time Kelly has been hit with criminal charges related to the marriage despite decades of persistent rumors.
Appearing before a Brooklyn courtroom via a livestream broadcast, Kelly pleaded not guilty to the bribery charge from a courtroom in Chicago, CNN reports, where he is currently incarcerated until his case goes to trial. His defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, was present with Kelly in Chicago while another lawyer from New Jersey, Doug Anton, represented him in person in Brooklyn.
"Our position has been made clear, the charges alleged from 1994 are ridiculous, there was no bribery of a government official," Anton insisted, according to CBS News. "He's a musical genius, but if I asked him to make a fake ID, he would have no idea how to do that.”
The new charge comes after R. Kelly’s former tour manager, Demetrius Smith, admitted to TMZ that he did commit the crime on Kelly’s behalf in 1994. Meanwhile, Kelly has continued to maintain his innocence in spite of the mounting evidence against him as he faces multiple counts for four separate cases across three different states.
Some of those charges include the sexual abuse of minors, sex trafficking, child pornography, and transportation of women and girls across state lines for the purposes of illegal sexual activity, according to CBS News.
So far, Kelly is set to go to court for both his Chicago and New York cases in 2020 nearly one month apart from each other. The 52-year-old’s Chicago trial is scheduled for April 27 while his New York hearing has been set for May 18.
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