R. Kelly Silenced Aaliyah & Her Family With Non-Disclosure Agreement After 1995 Marriage Annulment

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

The final installment of Surviving R. Kelly explores the annulled marriage between the singer-songwriter and late vocalist Aaliyah.

More skeletons are coming out of R. Kelly‘s closet, this time, his annulled marriage to late singer Aaliyah. New allegations have been made about Kelly in the final installment of Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly, which aired on January 2nd and 3rd. The docuseries focuses on Kelly’s 2022 federal trial where a non-disclosure agreement was brought into the courtroom as evidence, with Aaliyah, whose legal name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton, being placed as Jane Doe #1.

Surviving R. Kelly explored the prior relationship between Kelly and Aaliyah, the former who served as Aaliyah’s mentor during the recording of her 1993 debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. The two were first introduced in the early ’90s by music executive and Kelly’s manager Barry Hankerson, also Haughton’s uncle. Upon the album’s release, rumors circulated that Kelly and Haughton were romantically involved.

The pair secretly married in August 1994 when Haughton was 15, but the marriage certificate falsified her age to 18. In February 1995, the marriage was annulled by Haughton’s parents. On Surviving R. Kelly, members of Kelly’s camp who were present during his marriage to Haughton expressed regret over the relationship, while those close to both Kelly and Haughton detailed the NDA forged between the artists after their marriage annulment.

Gem Pratt, Kelly’s childhood friend and former security guard, says Haughton’s father was furious over the marriage and forced the annulment. Pratt then alleged that Haughton’s family had a contractual agreement with Kelly, stating that they couldn’t press charges against him over the illegal marriage. The family also had a financial incentive, as Kelly sold the rights to his first three albums to Haughton’s family.

“Her dad didn’t want her anywhere near him,” Pratt says in the docuseries.

Prior to R. Kelly’s trial, journalist Jim DeRogatis – who initially broke the news of Kelly’s sexual abuse more than two decades ago – revealed the NDA that Kelly used against Haughton. In an interview with The New York Times, DeRogatis shared that the documents were leaked to him, also detailing physical abuse.

“It’s a harrowing document,” he said. “A non-disclosure agreement on both her part and Kelly’s, vowing not to pursue further legal claims for physical abuse. So, it wasn’t just an underage sexual relationship, he hit her, allegedly, according to that court document.”

Surviving R. Kelly executive producer Jesse Daniels spoke to Variety about being careful not to exploit Haughton’s story, as the singer tragically died in a plane crash on August 31, 2001.

“We have had a lot of conversations about how to tell Aaliyah’s story every time because we really want to be respectful of her legacy. But what she went through, we can’t turn our backs on,” Daniels said.

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