Among the many accusations levied against R. Kelly, one of the most troubling was his relationship with Aaliyah.
The rising star was just 13 years old when she met the It Seems Like You’re Ready singer — and very shortly after that she was allegedly preyed upon by the older musician. Rumors swirled for years about a sexual relationship between the two, even that Kelly illegally married the teenager — something that was proven years later when Vibe got hold of the marriage certificate. She was 15 at the time of the nuptials — he was 27.
So we’ve had a pretty good idea for a while now that the R&B stars were wed on August 31, 1994. And witnesses painted a fuller portrait of the alleged crime in the 2019 Surviving R. Kelly documentary.
Related: R. Kelly Ex Testifies He Pressured Her To Lie During CBS Interview
Now that Kelly is on trial, it’s becoming official record. And due to witnesses finally telling the whole truth on the stand, we are getting more details than ever about the dark chapter in Aaliyah’s unfortunately all-too-short story.
Nathan Edmond, the pastor who performed the ceremony, took the stand on Wednesday and corroborated much of what we’ve heard, as well as offering new details.
He described the ceremony itself, which took place at the Sheraton Gateway Suites in Chicago, near O’Hare Airport. He recalled that rather than a wedding gown, the couple wore matching sweatsuits, each with one leg rolled up to the knee (it was a ’90s thing). It wasn’t just the wardrobe that was unceremonious — the whole event lasted just ten minutes.
Pastor Edmond also remembered Kelly being adamant he never tell anyone about the marriage (shocking), even trying to get him to sign an NDA — something that he refused to do:
“I kind of chuckled… I said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. It should have been more airtight.”
However, he did give Kelly his word that he wouldn’t tell anyone about it. And he kept that promise, having never spoken publicly about the wedding until now when he’s under oath.
Shouldn’t he have spoken out beforehand? That whole pastor-penitent privilege thing doesn’t really apply here as he wasn’t listening to a confession, he was witnessing a crime, abetting even — right??
However, he attested he was shown falsified documentation saying Aaliyah was 18 years old; he would never have agreed to take the job otherwise.
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The clergyman also claimed he did not know who Aaliyah was. That makes sense — Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, her unfortunately named debut album (which was, unsurprisingly, mostly written and produced by Kelly), had only come out three months earlier. She wasn’t yet a household name. Even still, Kelly hid his child bride’s face. The pastor recalled:
“I didn’t know it was anyone special. You couldn’t see her whole face because her hair was over half of her face.”
We can’t help but wonder if that was on purpose to hide how young she looked…
As for the faked docs, Kelly’s former tour manager Demetrius Smith copped to that when he testified last month, admitting he had bribed a government worker $500. As he also spoke about in the Surviving doc, Smith claims Kelly believed he had gotten Aaliyah pregnant and feared people finding out he’d had sex with an underage girl.
Marrying her would have been, according to prosecutors, a way for Kelly to protect himself from prosecution for child sexual abuse as she couldn’t be forced to testify against him. Gross.
The marriage was annulled in February 1995 by Aaliyah’s parents after they found out. But it’s possible it served its purpose… A former girlfriend of Kelly’s previously testified that the rumored pregnancy was indeed real — and that the singer only married the teen so he could get her an abortion.
Did Kelly intimidate the young girl into going through with the wedding? Obviously she was too young to legally consent to it. And in the doc, Smith claimed that Aaliyah looked “worried and scared” throughout the ceremony. Was that because of the wedding — or what was happening after??
Aaliyah herself never confirmed she had been pregnant — and by all accounts refused to speak about her relationship with Kelly to anyone. Ever.
Sadly she did not live long enough to change her mind, having passed away in a plane crash in 2001 — which we’ve learned recently may also have happened against her will. Such a tragic story…
[Image via David Livingston/WENN/Chicago Police Department.]