R Kelly: marriage to Aaliyah explained and timeline of accusations as singer sentenced to 30 years in prison

Further allegations of sexual exploition have emerged against R. Kelly, who married singer Aaliyah when she was just 15-years-old

R. Kelly stands accused of producing child pornography and obstructing justice by allegedly rigging the 2008 trial against him, amid claims that he had abused a key witness “hundreds of times” before she was 18-years-old.

The 37-year-old woman, known as "Jane", said that improper contact with Kelly began when she was just 13.

Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is facing 13 criminal charges including creating and receiving child pornography, obstruction of justice and enticing minors into sexual activity.

R. Kelly, an R&B singer known for hits such as I Believe I Can Fly, Bump n’ Grind, Ignition and The World’s Greatest, has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars for masterminding an elaborate scheme to entice and sexually exploit young aspiring singers and underage children.

This is what you need to know.

What happened in the trial?

The R&B singer will spend the next 30 years behind bars after he was branded a “predator” who used his fame and fortune to “prey on the young, the vulnerable, and the voiceless for his own sexual gratification” following his conviction.

Kelly was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, with the charges relating to bribery and forced labour, by a jury in September last year. He was also found in violation of an anti-sex trafficking law known as the Mann Act.

Singer R. Kelly turns to leave after appearing at a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on September 17, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Kelly is facing multiple sexual assault charges and is being held without bail. (Photo by Antonio Perez - Pool via Getty Images)

The singer, who has denied all charges, was found guilty on all nine counts against him following a six-week trial in Brooklyn, New York.

His conviction carries a minimum sentence of 10 years. Federal prosecutors asked for a sentence “in excess of 25 years” though the singer’s own lawyers have asked he receive under 10.

Several victims of his abuses are expected to give victim impact statements to the court, and Kelly himself may even make statements, having declined to take the stand during the trial.

What else has R Kelly been accused of?

These accusations against Kelly are nothing new for the singer - for more than two decades, Kelly has faced allegations of sexual abuse, dating back to the start of his career in the 1990s.

This is a timeline of the accusations against the R&B singer.

1994

In 1994, when Kelly was aged 27, he married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah at a secret ceremony in Chicago. Kelly had met Aaliyah three years prior, when she was just 12-years-old.

Kelly had helped make her first record, which was called Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.

Singer Aaliyah attends the world premiere of the film “Planet of the Apes” July 23, 2001 at the Ziefield Theatre in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Getty Images)

In a 2008 interview, it was revealed that Kelly’s tour manager, Demetrius Smith, had obtained a false ID for Aaliyah which listed her age at 18. The marriage was annulled in 1995.

In 2021, Kelly admitted that he had “underage sexual contact” with Aaliyah, after years of denying the rumours.

1996

In 1996, he was sued by Tiffany Hawkins for “personal injuries and emotional distress” which she suffered during a three year relationship.

According to court documents, Hawkins said she began having sex with Kelly in 1991 when she was 15 and he was 24. The relationship ended when Hawkins turned 18.

The Chicago Sun Times states that Hawkins sought $10 million in damages, but ended up accepting only $250,000 when the case was settled in 1998.

2001

In 2001, Kelly was accused of luring Tracy Sampson into “an indecent sexual relationship” when she was 17-years-old.

Sampson was a former intern at Epic Records, and she claimed she was “treated as his personal sex object and cast aside”.

R. Kelly performs at Madison Square Garden on October 16, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images)

In her legal case against the singer, she said: “He often tried to control every aspect of my life, including who I would see and where I would go.”

The New York Post reported that the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

2002

The year 2002 both brought a number of accusations against the singer. He was sued for the third time by Patrice Jones who claimed he had gotten her pregnant whilst she was underage, and that he had forced her to have an abortion.

Another woman, Montina Woods, also sued Kelly with allegations that he recorded them having sex without her consent.

Both cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in return for a non-disclosure agreement.

R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after a hearing on sexual abuse charges on May 7, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Later that year, Kelly was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography.

The Chicago police accused him of taping the acts, with all the charges relating to one girl.

A tape had been sent anonymously to the Chicago Sun Times earlier in the year, which was then passed on to police and, with the help from FBI forensic experts, verified its authenticity.

He was posted on $750,000 bail, and denied all the charges. It took six years for the case to come to trial, and the jury ultimately concluded that they could not prove that the girl involved was a minor and Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.

2002 - 2004

A further 12 counts of creating child pornography in Florida were charged against the singer, and he was arrested at his holiday home.

The charges came after police seized a camera during his arrest, however they were eventually dropped as a judge said that the police lacked sufficient evidence to justify a search.

2006

In February of 2006, Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, states that his brother offered to pay him $50,000 and the promise of a record deal if he said that he was the person in the sex tape.

2017

A report from Jim DeRogatis at Buzzfeed accused Kelly of running an “abusive sex cult”, wherein he trapped six women.

The report said: “Three former members of Kelly’s inner circle — Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee — provided details supporting the parents’ worst fears.

“They said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.”

Singer R. Kelly arrives at the Leighton Courthouse (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

It added: “Kelly confiscates the women’s cell phones, they said, so they cannot contact their friends and family; he gives them new phones that they are only allowed to use to contact him or others with his permission.”

Kelly strongly denied the accusations, but the piece creates the #MuteRKelly hashtag online, around the same time the #MeToo movement also began to make waves.

2018

Another lawsuit was filed against Kelly, this time by Faith Rodgers, who made allegations of sexual battery. She also later said that Kelly had attempted to silence her using threats.

In the lawsuit, Rogers claimed that Kelly routinely “mentally, sexually and verbally” abused her.

She also alleged that Kelly had infected her with herpes.

It was around this time that Spotify removed Kelly’s songs from its playlists, citing the music streaming service’s policy on hate content and hateful conduct.

The following month, Kelly released a 19 minute long song called I Admit, in which he denies the accusations made against him.

2019

In 2019, the six part documentary series Surviving R Kelly was released, and it explored the allegations that have been made against the singer.

In an interview, Kelly’s former tour manager Demetirus Smith said: “That’s the way it was. We worked for him. This is what he wanted and this is what we were supposed to give him.”

Shortly after the series aired, Kelly was dropped from his record company, and planned concerts around the US and New Zealand were cancelled.

In February that year, Kelly is charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in connection with four women - three of which were underage. Kelly vehemently denies these charges in an interview with CBS in March.

R. Kelly pleads not guilty before Judge Lawrence Flood at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago on June 6, 2019 (Photo by E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP via Getty Images)

Additional charges of 11 counts of sexual assault and abuse against a minor aged between 13 and 16 are also filed by prosecutors.

In July, Kelly was then faced with two separate federal indictments in Illinois and Brooklyn. Between the two, the allegations claim that Kelly and his associates organised efforts to recruit and transport underage girls across state lines for illegal sexual purposes - including producing child pornography.

Appearing in court in New York at the beginning of August that year, Kelly pled not guilty, but is denied bail on the grounds that he is considered a flight risk.

Only days later prosecurtors in Minnesota file prostitution charges against Kelly, for a total of three US states in which he faces criminal charges.

2020

Kelly’s trial in Chicago is delayed by six months due to prosecutors seizing more than 100 electronic devices, such as smartphones and iPads, from a storage facility holding his tour equipment.

More charges are filed against the singer, with prosecutors adding “yet another victim” to the list of allegations.

In August, a number of Kelly’s associates were charged with attempting to intimidate, harass or bribe alleged victims in the racketeering case against the singer.

One victim was reportedly offered $500,000 to ensure her silence. Another was threatened with the release of sexually explicit phones. A third woke one day to find that her car had been set on fire.

Kelly denied any involvement.