R. Kelly Attorney Backtracks After Declining to Deny Client Had 'Sexual Contact' With Aaliyah

R. Kelly's NYC sex trafficking trial begins the jury selection process next month, with opening statements currently slated to begin Aug. 18.


Image via Getty/Scott Olson


One of R. Kelly’s attorneys reportedly declined to deny on Tuesday that the disgraced singer had “sexual contact” with the late Aaliyah while she was a minor. Later, however, the same attorney seemingly walked back the non-denial.

Asked Tuesday during pre-trial proceedings related to Kelly’s Brooklyn Federal Court sex trafficking case whether the defense was “going to deny that there was sexual contact with Jane Doe 1,” attorney Thomas Farinella—per Noah Goldberg for the New York Daily News—reportedly responded with a “deep sigh” before offering a “no” when Judge Ann Donnelly noted that Kelly and Jane Doe 1 were married. Notably, Jane Doe 1 was previously reported by the New York Timesto be Aaliyah.

From there, the report adds, Elizabeth Geddes—a federal prosecutor—stepped in.

“Are they not going to dispute that at the time Jane Doe 1 was 13 to 15 years old?” Geddes is said to have asked, with Farinella responding that they “do dispute” and were not “prepared to concede that right now.” The report makes it clear that it wasn’t immediately certain whether Farinella was referencing the age or the nature of the relationship in his comments.

In a statement to Complex via email, however, Farinella said:

“As I clarified on the record today in court, the defense DOES NOT concede that Mr. Kelly had underage sexual contact with Jane Doe # 1.”

Among the allegations against Kelly, who was jailed in Brooklyn in June, are that he bribed a state official in Illinois in connection with a marriage certificate listing Aaliyah’s age as 18. At the time, Aaliyah would have been 15 years old. 

Complex has also reached out to a rep forDevereaux Cannick, another Kelly lawyer, for comment and will update this post accordingly.

As previously reported, Kelly’s legal team had pushed back against prosecutors’ request to include additional allegations in the trial, opening arguments for which are slated for Aug. 18. In July, Kelly’s legal team said the request was “unequivocally inadmissible,” citing the Federal Rules of Evidence and arguing that their client’s rights would be violated.

In court documents obtained by Complex, dated Aug. 2, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said evidence from approximately 1992 and 1993 regarding Kelly’s “introduction to and sexual conduct with” Aaliyah is admissible because it’s an example of “direct evidence” of racketeering.

Kasulis also said there was no merit to Kelly’s claims of there being no evidence “supporting sexual activity” between him and Aaliyah while the latter was a minor. According to Kasulis, one witness will testify that he believed Kelly “impregnated Jane Doe 1.”

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