R Kelly has pleaded not guilty to bribing an official over his underage marriage to Aaliyah in 1994.
Aaliyah was just 15 when she married Kelly, but fake ID documents showed the singer’s age as 18. Kelly is accused of bribing a government official to obtain the fake ID.
Kelly pleaded not guilty in a Chicago federal courtroom. The charge has been added to the list of indictments against Kelly which were filed in New York in July.
In the documentary Surviving R Kelly, his former manager Demetrius Smith spoke of obtaining falsified documents for the marriage, which Smith claimed he’d organised in secret.
Smith said: “I was in the room when they got married…I’m not proud of that. I had papers forged for them when Aaliyah was underage. It was just a quick little ceremony.
“She didn’t have on a white dress. He didn’t have on a tux. Just every day wear. She looked worried and scared.”
Kelly is accused of enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity, possession of child pornography and racketeering, among other charges. A trial date of April 27 next year has been set for those charges.
Several months after their marriage, Kelly – then 27 – wrote and produced ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number’ for Aaliyah. Released in December 1994, it became her biggest UK hit, reaching No 32. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.
Kelly’s attorney Douglas Anton said the new charges were “ridiculous and absurd” when they were first made public on December 6.
Kelly has been in prison without bond since July. He has continued to maintain his innocence on all charges.