Aaliyah: R.Kelly pleads not guilty to bribery charge

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Embattled R&B star R. Kelly pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a new indictment brought in New York alleging he bribed an Illinois official to get a fake ID for 15-year-old singer Aaliyah a day before he married her in 1994.

According to Chicago Tribune, Kelly, 52 appeared for his arraignment before U.S. Judge Ann M. Donnelly in Brooklyn via a live television feed from a largely empty 17th-floor courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.

The superseding indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn last week alleged that Kelly directed someone in August 1994 to bribe the public official into making a false “identification document” for Aaliyah.

The next day, Kelly, then 27, married Aaliyah Haughton in a secret ceremony with falsified paperwork that gave her age as 18. The marriage was later annulled by a Michigan judge at the insistence of Aaliyah’s family.

In Illinois, someone must be a minimum of 18 to marry without parental consent.

The new allegation was added to the sweeping racketeering conspiracy indictment that New York prosecutors brought over the summer, accusing the singer of identifying underage girls attending his concerts and grooming them for later sexual abuse.

Kelly is in federal custody awaiting trial on the New York charges as well as a separate indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Chicago alleging the singer conspired with two former employees to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.

In addition, Kelly was charged in Cook County criminal court in February with four separate indictments accusing him of sexual misconduct over more than a decade. Three of those alleged victims were underage at the time.

If convicted in all jurisdictions, the embattled singer, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, could potentially face the rest of his life in prison.–Chicago Tribune