R. Kelly Thought Aaliyah Was Pregnant: Tour Manager – Billboard

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Demetrius Smith, tour manager for R. Kelly from 1984 to 1996, testified at the singer’s racketeering and sex trafficking trial at the New York City East District courthouse in Brooklyn on Friday August 20 that he had reason to believe that Kelly had impregnated the singer. Aaliyah when she was still a minor.

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While on tour, Smith says Kelly – born Robert Sylvester Kelly – “told me that Aaliyah was ‘in trouble’.”

“He said, ‘Don’t call Barry, it’s deeper than you think,” “Smith recalls, referring to Kelly’s manager and Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson.

The conversation took place before a concert in a town Smith could not remember, but said he was tasked with booking an overnight flight after the show. Along with bodyguard Tyree Jameson, Smith said, “As soon as the show was over, we got in the car and drove to the airport.”

Smith recalled that Kelly was calm in the limo but explained the situation on the plane. The tour director took a long pause in his testimony before continuing, and R. Kelly closed his eyes as the courtroom waited for the rest. “‘Aaliyah, man’,” Kelly recalls, saying, “” She thinks she is pregnant. “

“It was a shock,” Smith said.

Smith said Kelly told him he needed to protect himself in jail, crying as he spoke, and that his business manager and accountant Daryl McDavid was already making arrangements for Kelly and Aaliyah to marry.

When they landed in Chicago the next morning, Smith said he, Kelly and Jameson went to Kelly’s apartment, where Smith told Kelly he thought he was getting bad advice. “I told Robert he shouldn’t listen to Daryl,” Smith said, adding that he also said he thought Aaliyah was “too young”.

Smith said, Kelly responded by asking, “‘Which side are you on?'” They met McDavid and Aaliyah in a hotel suite later that day, which Smith said for fear of being kicked out of the room. Kelly’s inner circle, he offered to get Aaliyah counterfeit ID cards so that she and Kelly could get married.

“I’ve always been against what we told Robert,” Smith said.

Smith obtained two pieces of ID for Aaliyah. The first was from the Illinois Department of Social Services, where he bribed an employee with $ 500 in cash. “I made her an offer and she took the money,” he said. The second was a fake work ID from a courier company whose name he couldn’t remember. None of the identity cards indicated Aaliyah’s age. In addition, none of those pieces of ID were generally accepted as proof of identity for a marriage license, ministry clerk Carolyn Harris testified earlier today.

On August 30, 1994, Kelly and Aaliyah went to town hall, with Smith, in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, to apply for a marriage license. Aaliyah was only 15 at the time; Kelly was 27.

When Assistant United States Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez asked how they could have obtained the license with these types of ID cards, reminding Smith that he was “under oath,” Smith accused the charge of threatening him and announced that he was “ready to go home now.” . “

“I’m really uncomfortable with that, your honor,” he said, “continually talking about Aaliyah and her parents are not here”.

Smith’s testimony continues Monday.

The testimony coincides with the streaming release of Aaliyah’s second album, One in a million, almost 25 years after its initial release. The album was first released on August 27, 1996 on Blackground – the label owned by Hankerson – and Atlantic Records. For years, Aaliyah’s music has been the subject of a dispute between the label and her estate.

Kelly is charged with racketeering and 14 underlying acts – including kidnapping, sex trafficking, and forced labor – and eight counts of violating Mann’s federal law, which prohibits sex trafficking across borders. States. If found guilty on all counts, he faces 10 years in prison for life.

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