Thomas A Farinella, one of the lawyers defending R Kelly in his forthcoming trial, appeared to admit for the first time to having “underage sexual contact” with Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in 2001. She was aged 22.

Mr Farinella told The Independent in an initial statement that “The defence does concede that Mr Kelly had underage sexual contact with Jane Doe #1”.

His lawyers had dismissed allegations involving the woman identified as “Jane Doe #1”, who had died in 2001, so was “legally unavailable”.

The pair were rumoured to have been married in an illegal ceremony when Aaliyah was only 15, although R Kelly has disputed the allegation.

Gloria Allred, a well known women’s rights attorney, has been seen walking into the court in Brooklyn this morning along with the mother of one of R Kelly’s former girlfriends, according to a CBS journalist.

Ms Allred is known to represent at least one R Kelly accuser, Lizzette Martine, who said in the “Surviving R Kelly” documentary that the R&B singer “told me to perform sexual acts while his friends were in the backseat. It was like he owned me”. He has denied all allegations.

Ms Allred is said to be representing three of the women who accuse R Kelly of sexual abuse, Buzzfeed’s Julia Reinstein reports. Long queues formed outside the court.

What other charges is R Kelly facing?

The trial that has got underway in Brooklyn this morning is not all of the legal trouble facing R Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, who is involved in a number of state and federal charges in the US.

Among the allegations made against the 54-year-old are sexual assault, abuse of a minor, making indecent images of minors, racketeering and obstruction of justice. He has denied them all.

Federal investigators arrested R Kelly in Chicago in 2019 on allegations of sexual trafficking, in what was the R&B singer’s third arrest that year for allegations of sexual abuse and related activity.

He was transferred to New York ahead of Wednesday’s trial, which also alleges sexual trafficking and of the singer being at head of an “enterprise” that recruited underage girls and boys. He has denied this.


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