R. Kelly Had ‘Sexual Contact’ With Aaliyah, His Lawyer Admits

Photo: Antonio Perez - Pool via Getty Images

An attorney representing R. Kelly conceded Tuesday (August 3) that sexual contact had occurred between his client and the late R&B star Aaliyah, then later walked back his comments. 

According to New York Daily News, Thomas Farniella, Kelly’s defense lawyer, made the admission while being questioned by Judge Ann Donnelly who is presiding over Kelly’s federal criminal case in Brooklyn. 

One of the allegations against the "I Believed I Can Fly" singer is that he bribed an Illinois official to issue a wedding certificate in 1994 that said Aaliyah was 18 years old –– which would have made the marriage legal if it were true. 

“Are you going to deny that there was sexual contact with Jane Doe 1?” Donnelly asked, using the pseudonym given to Aaliyah during the case. “They were married.” 

“No,” Farniella replied from his seat at the defense table. 

Photo: Antonio Perez - Pool via Getty Images

Federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes then spoke up, reminding Farniella that Aaliyah was underage at the time of the marriage. 

“Are they not going to dispute that at the time Jane Doe 1 [Aaliyah] was 13 to 15 years old?” Geddes asked. 

“We do dispute,” Farinella said, though it’s unclear if the defense attorney meant Aaliyah’s age or whether the two had sexual contact. “We’re not prepared to concede that right now.” 

Rumors of a secret marriage between Kelly and Aaliyah swirled before and after Aaliyah’s tragic death in 2001. Kelly is accused of operating a business that trafficked women and girls across state lines, having sex with minors, and making child pornography. 

His lawyer’s admission came during the final pretrial hearing in Kelly’s racketeering case, which is scheduled to begin Monday (August 9).

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