Grand jurors in disgraced R&B star R Kelly’s Chicago case quizzed prosecution over why he was not charged with marrying Aaliyah when she was just 15, secret filings reveal

  • Court files from R Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago revealed juror’s questions over his marriage to Aaliyah, who was only 15
  • Kelly’s former manager testified that he helped forge an ID for the minor so she could wed Kelly, but the alleged abuse was not included in the Chicago trial
  • Prosecutors said because the two married in 1994, two years before the federal law against such an act existed, the charge was dropped from their case
  • Kelly and Aaliyah’s relationship, however, was included in his New York trial, where he was found guilty of nine counts of sexual abuse charges  

Grand jurors in R Kelly’s Chicago trial had asked prosecutors why he wasn’t charged with marrying Aaliyah when she was only 15, secret court filings revealed. 

After Kelly’s former business manager, Derrell McDavid, claimed prosecutors should be on the hook for his $850,000 legal fees following his acquittal, a trove of documents of the singer’s Chicago case were released to the public. 

Among the most interesting involved the jury’s questions over Kelly’s 1994 marriage to the late Aaliyah, who was 15 and whose abuse was not part of the Chicago trial but did show up in his New York case, the Chicago Tribune reported. 

Speaking to Assistant US Attorney Angel Krull, one of the jurors asked: ‘When you first brought us evidence, you showed us the marriage license with him and Aaliyah… so I was wondering why she wouldn’t be part of it if he married her when she was a minor and abused her?’

According to the court records, Krull explained that because the law against enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity didn’t exist until 1996, they could not charge Kelly. 

It remains unclear why the Chicago jurors were shown the evidence regarding Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001, in the first place when prosecutors decided not to charge Kelly with crimes regarding her. 

Court documents from R Kelly’s federal trial in Chicago revealed juror’s questions over his marriage to Aaliyah, who was 15. The two are pictured in the mid-90s

Kelly was ultimately convicted of three counts of child pornography in Chicago, but his relationship with Aayliah was not on trial. The alleged abuse, however, was explored in his New York trial, where the singer was convicted on nine counts of sexual abuse charges 

Aaliyah was briefly married to Kelly at the age of 15, with his former manager testified that he forged an ID for her so that they could wed. She died in a plane crash in 2001

Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain´t Nothing But A Number.’

Kelly’s former tour manager, Demetrius Smith, testified in New York that he bribed a government worker with $500 to obtain Aaliyah’s fake ID so that Kelly could marry her.

He reportedly feared that he had gotten Aaliyah pregnant, which would out him as having had sex with an underage girl.

Prosecutors say Kelly wanted to use the marriage to shield himself from criminal charges related to having sex with a minor and to prevent her from testifying against him.

The marriage was annulled in 1995 by Aaliyah’s parents, who did not know about the wedding before it occurred. She tragically died in a plane crash six years later at the age of 22.

Kelly and Aaliyah’s relationship was explored in his New York trial, where he was found guilty on a nine count indictment, including eight counts of violating the Mann Act. 

The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.

Kelly’s 1994 marriage to Aaliyah was annulled by her parents in 1995

Although Chicago prosecutors dropped Aaliyah’s alleged abuse from their case, it was a key aspect of his federal trial in New York. Pictured: A sketch of Kelly during the NYC trial 

Last month in Chicago, a federal jury found Kelly guilty on three counts of child pornography, but he was acquitted of a conspiracy to obstruct justice charge accusing him and his team of fixing his state child pornography trial in 2008.

McDavid was charged with four counts – two for receiving child porn, one for conspiring to do so and one for conspiring to obstruct justice by rigging the 2008 trial, at which Kelly was acquitted. 

The legal challenges for Kelly – who rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a Grammy-winning superstar – are not yet over.

Two further trials are pending; one in Minnesota and another in state court in Chicago.

Kelly, who is known for his smash hit I Believe I Can Fly and for sex-infused songs such as Bump n’ Grind, sold millions of albums even after abuse allegations began circulating in the 1990s.

Widespread outrage emerged after the #MeToo reckoning and the 2019 docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.

What was R Kelly found guilty of at his New York trial? 

R Kelly stood trial in Brooklyn federal court last year after he was accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.

The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.

In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.

The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:


The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.

Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.

In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.


The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.

Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.

Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.

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