Disgraced singer R. Kelly is facing a bribery charge after federal prosecutors in Brooklyn accused the singer of bribing an Illinois government employee in order to obtain fake identification to marry the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old.
The New York Times reports that a source told the publication that Kelly, who was 27 years old at the time, used a fake ID to obtain a marriage license that listed Aaliyah’s age as 18. The marriage, held in 1994, was later annulled.
Aaliyah, who passed away at the age of 22 in 2001, is only listed in the new indictment as “Jane Doe #1.”
The Times said that the new allegation will be added to an existing racketeering indictment that accuses him of sexually exploiting underage girls, coercing them into illegal sexual activity. Kelly, now 52, has also been criminally charged in other jurisdictions over various allegations that he sexually abused minors.
He and his lawyers has continually denied the charges.
R. Kelly has long denied reports that he and Aaliyah wed, saying instead that the two were close friends. In 2016, the R&B singer told GQ magazine that he “will never have that conversation with anyone.”
“Out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father who has asked me not to personally,” he continued. “But I can tell you I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close. We were, you know, best best best best friends.”
Earlier this year, during an interview with Good Morning America, Kelly’s lawyer Steven Greenberg, claimed that the singer had no idea Aaliyah was 15 at the time.
“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.
Prosecutors for the case have begun collecting records from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois secretary of state as well as other evidence, including Aaliyah’s birth certificate, and marriage and annulment records.
Surviving R. Kelly, a six-part docuseries that aired earlier this year on Lifetime, detailed allegations of sexual abuse against Kelly, including disturbing new details about his relationship with Aaliyah.
According to one of Kelly’s former backup singers, Jovante Cunningham, Kelly used to have sex with Aaliyah while others were present.
The late singer’s mother later slammed the claims in the documentary as “lies and fabrications.”