Witness: I Accidentally Saw R. Kelly Abusing Aaliyah

Accuser says she witnessed incident in 1993, when Aaliyah would've been just 13 or 14
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 7:45 AM CDT
Witness: Aaliyah Was Just 13 or 14 During R. Kelly Sexual Abuse
This combination photo shows, left, singer R. Kelly after the first day of jury selection in his child pornography trial at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on May 9, 2008; and right, the late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah during a photo shoot in New York on May 9, 2001.   (AP Photo)

Two weeks into the criminal trial of Robert Sylvester Kelly (aka R. Kelly), a half-dozen accusers have alleged that the singer had sex with them while they were minors. One story, however, is now drawing extra attention: that of a woman known as Angela, who's so far the only accuser to testify she saw R. Kelly engaged in a sex act with the late singer Aaliyah. Per the New York Times and BuzzFeed, Angela said in a Brooklyn court on Monday that, while on tour with R. Kelly as a backup performer, she'd gone to play a prank on R. Kelly—but when she opened the door to his tour bus, she says she saw the singer, then in his mid-20s, kneeling while appearing to perform oral sex on Aaliyah, seated in a chair.

The year was around 1993, Angela testified, which would've made Aaliyah just 13 or 14 years old—the youngest person R. Kelly is accused of sexually abusing. Angela said after witnessing the scene, she "closed the door abruptly" and left, and never mentioned the incident to R. Kelly. As for Angela herself, she said she met Kelly in 1991, when she was around 14 or 15, and that the two had sexual relations while she was still an underage high school student. Angela also testified that R. Kelly often would make her and other girls "put out" as a way of paying "dues" when he felt they'd disobeyed him.

The Times notes Aaliyah has become a "significant focus" of the trial, as in 1994 she'd ended up illegally marrying a 27-year-old R. Kelly when she was just 15, after documents were falsified to make her appear to be 18. Witnesses have noted that the marriage may have been arranged because R. Kelly was afraid Aaliyah may have been pregnant, and he didn't want to be charged with statutory rape. The marriage was annulled in 1995; Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001, at the age of 22.

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A male accuser also testified Monday, alleging he'd been "brainwashed" by the singer for 12 years, during which time R. Kelly groomed him for sex starting at age 16, then started having sex with him once he was 20. Although R. Kelly hasn't been charged with rape or assault, the BBC notes that these allegations from decades ago—some of which would be beyond the statute of limitations—have been permitted to be introduced by prosecutors as evidence related to the racketeering charge he has been hit with. R. Kelly has denied all charges against him, which also include several counts of sex trafficking. (More R. Kelly stories.)

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