R. Kelly’s marriage to Aaliyah Under new scrutiny as trial gets underway


Opening arguments in R. Kelly’s long-delayed sex-trafficking trial got underway in New York on Wednesday as the singer faces his most serious charges yet.

The 54-year-old R&B crooner, is accused of running a criminal enterprise, using his fame to lure young women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Six women are key to the federal government’s case, including the late singer Aaliyah, whose marriage to Kelly in 1994 helped put his alleged predatory behaviour in the spotlight.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez claimed Kelly, then 27, married his 15-year-old protégé after learning she was pregnant.

The prosecution alleged Kelly and his associates hatched a plan for the singers to wed to keep him out of jail. Kelly supposedly bribed a government employee in Illinois with $500 to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah, and then married her in a hotel suite before going back on tour. Their marriage was annulled less than a year later.

Not all of the charges against Kelly hinge on his marriage to Aaliyah. Kelly’s relationship with five other women, who were between ages 16 and 22 during the alleged crimes, will also be scrutinized.

Four of those women are expected to testify. Two appeared in the documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.