R Kelly’s lawyers backtrack on statement that singer had ‘underage sexual contact’ with Aaliyah

Thomas Farinella has now said Kelly did not have sex with singer when she was underage

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 10 August 2021 10:06
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R Kelly’s lawyers have backtracked on a statement that the R&B singer had “sexual contact” with Aaliyah when she was underage.

Last week, Thomas A Farinella, one of the lawyers defending Kelly in his forthcoming trial, appeared to admit for the first time to having “underage sexual contact” with Aaliyah.

Kelly had previously always denied having a relationship with Aaliyah in the 1990s, including allegations that they were married in an illegal ceremony when Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15.

In an initial statement to The Independent, Farinella wrote: “The defence does concede that Mr Kelly had underage sexual contact with Jane Doe #1.”

Kelly’s lawyers had previously attempted to dismiss claims by prosecutors that involved “Jane Doe #1” due to her “unfortunate passing… on 25 August 2001”, citing that “she is legally unavailable”.

Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash on 25 August 2001 at the age of 22.

However, lawyers for the singer have now retracted the statement, telling The Independent: “The defence does NOT concede that Mr Kelly had underage sexual contact with Jane Doe #1.”

In 1994, when she was 15, Aaliyah said in an interview that she was “rather close” to Kelly, but denied that the pair had married.

Despite her and Kelly’s denials, a 2000 report in The Chicago Sun-Times uncovered evidence that Aaliyah had filed suit in 1997 seeking to have all records of their marriage expunged. The singer told the court that she was not old enough to marry without the consent of her parents and had the marriage annulled shortly after the ceremony.

In 2019, Kelly’s lawyer Steven Greenberg admitted that his client had married Aaliyah in 1994, but claimed that Kelly had “no idea” that the singer was 15 and that she “had to lie about her age”.

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Kelly is currently standing trial on allegations that he led an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex.

He has pleaded not guilty to racketeering, bribery, coercion, enticement and sex trafficking.

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