The social media fallout following the release of Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly docuseries has reignited interest in R. Kelly and Aaliyah's inappropriate relationship.
Court records from the annulment of the famous singers' marriage showed R. Kelly sought protection from physical abuse charges.
In a May 2018 interview with The New York Times' podcast, Popcast, longtime Chicago reporter Jim DeRogatis revealed the damning detail. DeRogatis has covered R. Kelly since 2000, documenting the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against the Chocolate Factory artist.
“The annulment of the Aaliyah marriage and Aaliyah’s legal claim against him had been sealed in Detroit … they were sealed by the court, but those documents were provided to me,” DeRogatis said.
“It’s a harrowing document, a non-disclosure agreement on both her part and Kelly’s, vowing not to pursue further legal claims for physical abuse. So it wasn’t just an underage sexual relationship, he hit her, allegedly, according to that court document.”
Aaliyah and R. Kelly were married from August 31, 1994, to February 7, 1995. According to interviews from the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, an Illinois marriage certificate was forged by Kelly's manager to make the then-15-year-old singer 18. Kelly, however, was 27 at the time. Reports state he impregnated the teen, and she had an abortion before the illegal marriage.
The two collaborated on Aaliyah's debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, in which he appeared on the cover. Rumors early on commented on the inappropriate nature of their relationship, but the musicians often brushed it off, claiming they were only friends.
DeRogatis' interview resurfaced around the same time R. Kelly’s attorney Steven Greenberg appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Friday morning. Greenberg claimed Aaliyah lied about her age, and the "Ignition (Remix)" singer was unaware she was underage.
“Except that my understanding is that she did not claim to be 15, and in order to get married, she had to lie about her age.”
Since the conclusion of the limited series, authorities in Fulton County, Georgia, have launched a criminal investigation into Kelly's activities while staying in several mansions in metropolitan suburbs. A 2017 report from DeRogatis alleged Kelly held several women hostage in an alleged sex cult. Asante McGee, one of Kelly’s accusers, has already spoken with the district attorney's office.
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