Aaliyah's uncle says R Kelly wouldn't need trial had he known of abuse

Aaliyah’s uncle says ‘there wouldn’t have been a trial’ if he had known how R. Kelly was sexually exploiting and abusing his niece

  • Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, has spoken out about R. Kelly’s verdict, saying the singer wouldn’t have needed to go to trial if he had known about the abuse
  • Hankerson said: ‘If I had known what Robert Kelly was doing, Robert Kelly would not have to worry about a trial’
  • He didn’t explicitly state what he would’ve done but said ‘there wouldn’t have been a trial if I had known about any of the things he was trying to do to my niece’
  • Those who were close to Aaliyah and R. Kelly during the 90s say that Hankerson was not privy to their sexual relationship or illegal marriage
  • Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking on Monday during his trial which featured multiple testimonies about his relationship with Aaliyah

Barry Hankerson, former manager to R. Kelly and uncle to late R&B singer Aaliyah, said that the now-convicted sex offender ‘wouldn’t have to worry about a trial’ if he had been aware of the abuse against his niece.

‘If I had known what Robert Kelly was doing, Robert Kelly would not have to worry about a trial,’ Hankerson told The Daily News. 

‘I can’t say what would have happened, but there wouldn’t have been a trial if I had known about any of the things he was trying to do to my niece.’ 

Hankerson, 74, who introduced the two stars, declined to elaborate on what he might have done to Kelly if he had been privy to the couple’s inappropriate relationship.

Kelly, 54, was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday during his trial which featured testimony about his sexual exploitation of Aaliyah and their illegal marriage.

Barry Hankerson (pictured), former manager to R. Kelly and uncle to late R&B singer Aaliyah, said that the now-convicted sex offender ‘wouldn’t have to worry about a trial’ if he had been aware of the abuse against his niece

Kelly, 54, was found guilty of all nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking by a federal jury on Monday during his sex trafficking trial which featured testimony about his sexual exploitation of Aaliyah and their illegal marriage

Hankerson did not testify during Kelly’s trial, however he did reportedly speak to federal investigators about his relationship with Kelly and his niece.

‘I was not one of their witnesses, obviously. They never pushed that issue at me. They were very polite,’ Hankerson explained. 

Aaliyah’s uncle was also kept in the dark about the couple’s relationship, Kelly’s former tour manager Demetrius Smith testified during the trial.

When Kelly — fearing that he had impregnated the 15-year-old starlet — contacted Smith in 1994 about their situation he told him: ‘Aaliyah was in trouble and ‘don’t call Barry.’

Hankerson, who says he hasn’t seen Kelly since the ’90s, is still processing the trial and Kelly’s guilty verdict.

‘I really haven’t really made a decision on what my reaction is to the verdict,’ he said. ‘I think justice was served, that’s about it.’ 

Hankerson introduced Kelly to his niece at her family home in Detroit, Michigan when she was just 13 years old. 

Hankerson introduced his niece, Aaliyah (pictured in 2001), to R. Kelly when she was 13 years old. He was reportedly kept in the dark about the couple’s inappropriate relationship

R. Kelly is pictured with Aaliyah in the mid-1990s. They married in August 1994, when Kelly was 27 and Aaliyah was 15. The marriage was annulled by her parents in 1995

What was R. Kelly on trial for in New York?

The charges against R. Kelly related to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:


The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.

Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.

In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.

To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, jurors had to find him guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.


The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.

Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.

Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.

Kelly reportedly played piano for the family and Aaliyah performed for the singer, igniting the start of their professional relationship. 

Following their meeting, Kelly wrote and produced Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain´t Nothing But A Number.’

He married Aaliyah when she was just 15 in a 10-minute ceremony held inside a Chicago hotel room.

Pastor Nathan Edmond, who took the stand during Kelly’s trial, testified that he was recruited to marry Kelly, who was aged 27 at the time, after he was shown a falsified document that stated Aaliyah was 18. 

Late last month, Smith testified to the same court that he bribed a government worker with $500 to obtain Aaliyah’s fake ID so that Kelly could marry her. 

Also during the trial, a witness recounted how she walked in on ‘Robert and Aaliyah in a sexual situation.’

According to the testimony, Kelly was kneeling before the teenage singer and had his head between her legs. 

The witness said she then abruptly shut the door and never spoke to Kelly about what she saw. Aaliyah was about 13 years old at the time of the alleged encounter. 

She was killed in a plane crash in 2001 when she was 22 years old.

Kelly, who was found guilty of sex crimes by a jury of seven men and five women after nine hours of deliberation and a six-week long trial featuring lurid testimony, faces up to 100 years in prison – 20 years for racketeering, 10 for each of the sex trafficking convictions. 

His sentencing is expected to take place on May 4, 2022. 

Kelly has remained in custody after being denied bail in his New York City case in October 2019.

Prosecutors say he ran a Chicago-based criminal enterprise for nearly three decades and that he used to ‘target, groom and exploit girls, boys and women’ for unwanted sex and mental torment.

The acts presented during disturbing testimony included bribery, kidnapping, forced labor rape, druggings, imprisonment and child pornography.

Witnesses said he subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage. 

Kelly has denied any wrongdoing. 

Why R. Kelly’s illegal marriage to singer Aaliyah was at the center of his racketeering case nearly three decades later

R. Kelly illegal marriage to R&B singer Aaliyah was presented by the prosecution as a criminal act underlying the racketeering charge against the singer.

The marriage — which took place in a 10-minute ceremony held inside a Chicago hotel when Aaliyah was just 15 — was figured prominently in the prosecution’s closing arguments last week, the New York Times reported.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued that Kelly’s ‘sexual abuse’ of Aaliyah was ‘part of the defendant’s pattern of racketeering.’

Earlier this month, Pastor Nathan Edmond, who conducted the 1994 nuptials, testified via video link at Kelly’s sex abuse trial.

Pastor Nathan Edmond, who conducted the 1994 nuptials, testified on Sept. 1 via video link at Kelly’s sex abuse trial which is currently being held at a federal courthouse in Brooklyn.

Aaliyah, who released the album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, just three months before she illegally wed Kelly, did not tell her parents about the union

Edmond alleged that he was recruited to marry Kelly, who was aged 27 at the time, after he was shown a falsified document that stated Aaliyah was 18. 

‘I didn’t know it was anyone special,’ Edmond stated on September 1. ‘You couldn’t see her whole face because her hair was over half of her face.’ 

Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain´t Nothing But A Number.’

Late last month, Kelly’s former tour manager, Demetrius Smith, testified to the same court that he bribed a government worker with $500 to obtain Aaliyah’s fake ID so that Kelly could marry her. 

He reportedly feared that he had gotten Aaliyah pregnant, which would out him as having had sex with an underage girl.  

Prosecutors say Kelly wanted to use the marriage to shield himself from criminal charges related to having sex with a minor and to prevent her from testifying against him.  

The marriage was annulled in 1995 by Aaliyah’s parents, who did not know about the wedding before it occurred. She tragically died in a plane crash six years later at the age of 22.  

Pastor Edmond told the court on September 1 that he performed the ceremony at Sheraton Gateway Suites near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. 

He claimed Kelly and Aaliyah wore matching sweatsuits, and that they both had one leg of their sweatpants rolled up to the knee. 

Prosecutors allege that Kelly trafficked women and girls across state lines. He is facing a maximum of life behind bars. He is pictured in 2019 

Edmond’s testimony was the first time he publicly spoke about the ceremony. 

He stated that Kelly had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement before he conducted the nuptials, but he declined.

‘I kind of chuckled…  I said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. It should have been more airtight,’ Edmond stated. 

Despite refusing to sign the NDA, Edmond says he never spoke to the media because he gave Kelly his ‘word’ that he would not. 

After their secret, low-key wedding, Kelly and Aaliyah denied rumors that they had tied the knot. 

There were also whispers that Aaliyah was expecting Kelly’s baby, with one writer telling VIBE magazine in 1994: ‘I’ve been hearing about Robert [Kelly] and Aaliyah for a while — that she was pregnant. Or that she was coming and going in and out of his house.’

Meanwhile, a former live-in girlfriend of Kelly’s last month testified that the singer told her that he only married Aaliyah so that she could get an abortion.  

Aaliyah never confirmed the pregnancy. She went on to have a glittering career as an actress and singer before her untimely death in 2001. 

R Kelly is pictured listening to evidence on Sept. 1. He denies charges of racketeering 

Maria Cruz Melendez, an assistant U.S. attorney, told the court during opening statements at Kelly’s trial last month: ‘Aaliyah met the defendant in approximately 1992, when she was about twelve years old. Aaliyah had a gift. She was a talented singer, and people thought that she could make it far in the industry, so the defendant [Kelly] began to produce and write music for Aaliyah when she was still a child. 

‘Shortly after he began working with her, the defendant began to engage in sexual activity with her. And for years while Aaliyah was a minor, too young to even consent to sex, he continued to engage in sexual activity with her that lasted several years.’

Back in 2019, Kelly’s lawyer, Steven Greenberg, claimed his client had ‘no idea’ Aaliyah was underage at the time of their marriage. 

During the trial, the court also heard testimony from another alleged victim of Kelly’s who claimed that the singer kept a gun by his side while he berated her before  forcing her to give him oral sex. 

‘He had a weapon, so I wasn´t going to step out of line,’ the woman said while recounting the 2018 episode. 

She said that at the time she spotted Kelly with a gun, he demanded to know, ‘How many men have you seen naked?’ He also instructed her to act ‘excited like a puppy’ and added: ‘I still have a lot to teach you.’ 

She testified that she saw Kelly on multiple occasions. 

Their last encounter came inside a New York City hotel suite, where she resisted having sex with him. She said he responded by warning her not to defy him, saying, ‘I’m a f–ing legend.’

Kelly has repeatedly denied accusations that he preyed on victims during a 30-year career. His lawyers have portrayed his accusers as groupies who are lying about their relationships with him.

The trial has so far featured a steady stream of accusers claiming Kelly began sexually degrading them when they were still in their teens. They said he used his stardom to lure them into an insular world where he watched their every move and doled out perverse punishments, spanking them and isolating them in hotel rooms if they broke a vow to never speak about him to anyone else.

Kelly’s personal physician has also testified, saying he treated him for herpes for several years.

Many of the sex-related misconduct allegations were discussed in the 2019 Lifetime documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’ 

How R. Kelly was finally brought to justice: One-time R&B superstar used his fame to get away with decades of abuse against young women and men – until harrowing 2019 documentary saw allegations snowball 

Disgraced singer R. Kelly spent decades trying to silence his underage victims with threats and bribery before his downfall began with the 2019 release of an explosive documentary that exposed his predatory behavior.

Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – which revisited old claims and introduced new ones – opened up a Pandora’s Box of trouble for the singer, who previously avoided jail time after being acquitted of child pornography charges.

Some say the documentary culminated with charges against Kelly that would finally stick; after years of him using his fame and fortune to silence his victims, he was convicted Monday of nine counts of racketeering and sex trafficking.

Soon after the six-part docuseries aired in January 2019, Illinois’ Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx said her office was contacted by two Chicago families who believed their relatives were being involuntarily held by Kelly.

Disgraced R&B star R. Kelly was convicted Monday of racketeering and sex trafficking

She urged other victims to come forward.

Celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Celine Dion began distancing themselves from the Grammy-winning musician, and hotshot women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred trotted victim Faith Rogers in front of the cameras to share her story.

On February 14, 2019, lawyer Michael Avenatti said he handed over a 45-minute video of the star having sex with a minor to Chicago prosecutors.

His ex-wife Andrea Kelly,  mother of his three children, appeared in the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ and said the singer abused her throughout their 13-year marriage

About a week later, on February 22, Kelly was charged by Cook County prosecutors charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse related to four victims as young as 13.

It was the beginning of the end for Kelly, who was soon hit with more sexual assault-related charges in other states after getting away with it for decades.

‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ a six-part mini-series that featured deeply-personal interviews with victims, including his ex-wife Andrea Kelly, who said she was abused throughout their 13-year marriage.

The documentary led a groundswell of public outrage and a criminal investigation in Georgia.

It also led to more victims coming forward, and prosecutors strengthening the case against a singer whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.

Kelly was sentenced for some of his misdeeds Monday, when a federal jury found him guilty following a six-week trial featuring lurid testimony from 50 witnesses.

He kept his victims silent for years by paying them hush money and threatening them

Some of his accusers were finally able to testify against him during the trial after their hush-money NDAs, which paid up to $1.5million each in exchange for their silence, was overturned by a Brooklyn judge.

Prosecutors said Kelly suppressed allegations against him for years by pressuring accusers into signing non-disclosure agreements in exchange for cash settlements. The NDA settlements were overseen by Susan E Loggans, a personal-injury attorney.

But prosecutors in Kelly’s ongoing trial argued that NDAs should not keep victims from speaking out and referred to four other federal cases, including a ruling against Bill Cosby in 2016 when he sued one of his victims Andrea Constand for speaking with prosecutors.

Until now, justice has been elusive for Kelly’s victims, some of whom were threatened or paid into silence. 

He was in 2008 acquitted of 18 child pornography charges stemming from a 27-minute sex tape after the girl refused to testify.

Jurors said they couldn’t be certain the girl was underage. 

He was acquitted of child porn charges in 2008 after his victim refused to testify

Kelly has for decades faced a multitude of sexual assault allegations; in 1997 Tiffany Hawkins filed the first of many complaints when she alleged he sexually harassed and sexually battered her while she was a minor.

Hawkins was 15 when she began having sex with then-24-year-old Kelly in 1991, she said in a court document.

 The case settled in 1998; Hawkins received a payout of $250,000, a fraction of the $10million she sought in damages, the Chicago Sun Times reported.

It wouldn’t have been the last time Kelly engaged in elicit behavior with a minor.

He in 1994 married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in a secret ceremony. He was 27 at the time, and the marriage was later annulled due to her age.

Some Twitter users wondered why it took decades to convict the singer of sex crimes 

Some are questioning why it took so long for Kelly to answer for his behavior.

‘How many [years] of hell did his victims endure until this?’ journalist Julie Bindel tweeted. ‘ We need to ask why he escaped justice for 25 years.’

Added @ipicnews: ‘Everybody knew the allegations – so why has it taken 30 years to get justice?’

User @ECMcLaughlin credited the damning documentary for the conviction.

‘Dream Hampton’s incredible documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, played a major role in this prosecution,’ she tweeted.

‘He is a monstrous pedophile who preyed on Black girls for decades. Justice is long overdue.’

Timeline of R. Kelly’s downfall from R&B superstar to ‘sexual predator’ 

August 1994: At age 27, R. Kelly marries 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah D. Haughton. The couple weds in a secret ceremony arranged by Kelly at a hotel in Chicago. The marriage is annulled months later because of Aaliyah’s age. Aaliyah dies in a plane crash seven years later at age 22.

February 1997: Tiffany Hawkins files a complaint against Kelly alleging intentional sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor. The lawsuit is reportedly settled for $250,000 the following January.

August 2001: Tracy Sampson files a lawsuit against Kelly, alleging their sex was illegal under Illinois law because he was in ‘a position of authority’ over her. The case was reportedly settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

February 2002: The Chicago Sun-Times reported that it received a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with a minor. The paper reported Chicago police began investigating allegations about Kelly and the same girl three years earlier. At the time, the girl and her parents denies she was having sex with Kelly.

June 2002: Kelly is indicted in Chicago on child pornography charges stemming from the sex tape. He pleads not guilty and is released on $750,000 bail.

January 2003: Kelly is arrested at a Florida hotel on additional child pornography charges after investigators said they found photos of him having sex with a girl. Charges are later dropped after the judge ruled police didn´t have a warrant to search Kelly’s house.

September 2005: Kelly’s wife Andrea Kelly asks for an order of protection from her husband, accusing the singer of hitting her when she said she wanted a divorce. The couple confirm they have divorced in 2009.

February 2006: Kelly’s brother, Carey Kelly, says his brother offered him $50,000 and a record deal to say he was the person on the sex video.

May 2008: Kelly’s child pornography trial begins. He is acquitted on all counts the next month after less than a full day of deliberations.

July 2017: BuzzFeed reports on parents’ claims that Kelly brainwashed their daughters and was keeping them in an abusive ‘cult.’ One woman says she was with Kelly willingly. Following the BuzzFeed report, activists launched the #MuteRKelly movement, calling for boycotts of his music.

April 2018: The Time’s Up campaign, devoted to helping women in the aftermath of sexual abuse, joins the #MuteRKelly social media campaign and pushes for further investigation into Kelly’s behavior, which had come under closer scrutiny over the previous year as women came forward accusing him of sexual coercion and physical abuse. Kelly´s camp responds: ‘We will vigorously resist this attempted public lynching of a black man who has made extraordinary contributions to our culture.’

May 2018: Spotify cuts R. Kelly’s music from its playlists, citing its policy on hate content and hateful conduct. Shortly after, Apple and Pandora also stop promoting his music. Kelly’s team pushes back, noting other artists on Spotify had been accused or convicted of crimes.

The same month Faith Rodgers, 20, files a lawsuit accusing R. Kelly of sexual battery, mental and verbal abuse, and knowingly inflicting her with herpes during a yearlong relationship.

January 2019: Lifetime airs the documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ which revisited old allegations against him and brought new ones into the spotlight. The series followed the BBC’s ‘R Kelly: Sex, Girls & Videotapes,’ released the previous year, that alleged the singer was holding women against their will.

Lady Gaga apologizes for her 2013 duet with Kelly, saying she intended to remove the song, ‘Do What U Want (With My Body),’ from streaming services.

Faith Rogers says Kelly had written a letter the previous October to one of her lawyers, threatening to reveal embarrassing details of her sexual history if she didn’t drop her May 2018 lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse.

Multiple media outlets reports Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, part ways. Lady Gaga and Celine Dion remove their duets with Kelly from streaming services, and French rock band Phoenix apologizes for collaborating with Kelly in 2013. Kelly continues to deny all allegations of sexual misconduct.

February 2019: Attorney Michael Avenatti says he gave Chicago prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, and that it is not the same evidence used in Kelly’s 2008 trial.

Kelly is arrested and charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Kelly’s attorney enters not guilty pleas on the singer’s behalf. Hours later, Kelly posts bail and is released from jail in Chicago.

March 2019: CBS airs interview in which Kelly vehemently denied the sexual abuse charges against him. Later, authorities in Cook County take Kelly into custody after he tells a judge he couldn´t pay $161,000 in back child support he owed his children’s mother.

May 2019: Kelly is charged with 11 new sex-related counts in Chicago. They involve one of the women who accused him of sexually abusing her when she was underage.

July 2019: Kelly is indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on charges including child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. A separate indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York included charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child. He is again arrested in Chicago.

A federal judge orders Kelly held in jail without bond after a prosecutor warned he would pose an extreme danger to young girls if set free.

August 2019: Kelly pleads not guilty to federal charges accusing him of sexually abusing women and girls who attended his concerts, as his lawyers continue to label the alleged victims disgruntled ‘groupies.’

Kelly is charged in Minnesota with prostitution and solicitation related to an allegation that he invited a 17-year-old girl to his hotel room in 2001 and paid her $200 to dance naked with him.

October 2019: Kelly is denied bail in his New York City sex abuse case after a judge agreed with prosecutors that freeing him from jail would create a risk of him fleeing or tampering with witnesses.

December 2019: Kelly is charged by federal prosecutors with paying a bribe in exchange for a ‘fraudulent identification document’ for an unidentified female a day before he married R&B singer Aaliyah. He later pleads not guilty.

March 2020: Kelly pleads not guilty in Chicago to an updated federal indictment that included child pornography charges and allegations involving a new accuser, while prosecutors say more charges alleging yet another victim were upcoming.

August 2020: Federal prosecutors announce charges against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.

Kelly’s manager is arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theater two years ago, forcing an evacuation and the cancellation of the screening of a documentary addressing allegations that the singer had sexually abused women and girls.

July 2021: Federal prosecutors in Kelly´s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an underage boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming trial to hear those claims.

August 2021: Kelly’s long-anticipated federal trial begins in New York with opening statements on August 18.

September 2021: After a six-week long trial, the jury find Kelly guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking.

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