Artist News Legal

R Kelly trial hears from more former girlfriends and the minister who officiated musician’s marriage to Aaliyah

By | Published on Monday 6 September 2021

R Kelly

The R Kelly trial in New York heard testimony on Friday from a woman who revealed that she had previously reached a $200,000 settlement with the musician’s legal team after contracting herpes while in a sexual relationship with the star.

The witness, referred to as Kate, is one of a number of women to confirm that they contracted herpes while in a sexual relationship with Kelly. The jury previously heard that the musician knew he had the sexually transmitted disease, and yet continued to have unprotected sex with multiple women, without revealing that diagnosis.

Kate told the court that she was 27 when set first met Kelly in 2001 through a mutual friend. As their relationship progressed, she did ask the musician whether he planned to use protection during sex – she added – but in response “he first looked at me quizzically” and subsequently said “no”. After she contracted herpes, she challenged Kelly about it, but he remained “tight-lipped” about any accusations that he had infected her. Her lawyer then negotiated the $200,000 settlement.

Although Kate’s testimony echoed earlier claims regarding Kelly’s alleged willingness to knowingly and secretly infect his partners with a sexually transmitted disease, she did not add to the evidence regarding the strict rules the musician enforced, sometimes violently, over his girlfriends. She had a different relationship with the star in that domain, she revealed, and he was never violent towards her.

Another former girlfriend who testified last week also refrained from accusing Kelly of abuse, even though her relationship with the star had more parallels with those discussed by earlier witnesses. Referred to as Alexis, she had meet the musician at a concert when she was fifteen and had an on again off again relationship with him over the next nine years. She told the court that she was reluctant to testify in this case and couldn’t remember what age she was when her relationship with Kelly turned sexual.

Prosecutors hope that Alexis’s testimony will nevertheless help in their bid to show that Kelly ran a long-term and well organised enterprise designed to allow him to meet and subsequently abuse teenage girls and young women. Though the defence declined to cross-examine Alexis, suggesting that they didn’t feel her testimony had added much to the prosecution’s case.

Alongside the additional women who have had relationships with Kelly, the court also heard last week from some forensic experts, and the minister who officiated at Kelly’s 1994 marriage to an under-age Aaliyah.

It’s alleged that a then 27 year old Kelly instigated his short-lived marriage to a fifteen year old Aaliyah – his protege at the time – because he believed he had got her pregnant. It was thought that the marriage would protect Kelly from any legal ramifications resulting from any pregnancy.

Nathan Edmond said that he was asked to officiate at the wedding by a friend he shared with Kelly, but that he didn’t initially “think it was anybody special – I didn’t understand it at all”. The wedding took place in a hotel room and “the door opened to the bedroom and out stepped Aaliyah and Mr Kelly”.

Edmond wasn’t asked about whether Aaliyah looked particularly young at the time, the court having previously been shown a marriage licence that listed the singer as being eighteen, which in turn had been secured with fake ID.

The minister added that he hadn’t spoken publicly about the wedding, or his role in it, before, because he gave his word to keep the proceedings confidential. That was after he’d declined to sign a non-disclosure agreement presented by Kelly’s people which, he reckoned, “wasn’t worth the paper it was written on”.

The trial is due to continue later this week.