Judge named Aaliyah’s uncle on list of those who met R. Kelly’s needs

R. Kelly was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for running a decades-old scheme in which he used his inner circle of employees and associates to recruit girls, boys and women into sexual abuse.

One of those girls, according to the jury, was beloved R&B icon Aaliyah, who was introduced to the sexual predator by her uncle, Barry Hankerson, when she was just 12 years old. Hankerson was Kelly’s manager at the time.

In a memo on Tuesday denying Kelly’s request for a retrial, Judge Ann Donnelly named Hankerson among the staff who were hired to meet Kelly’s “professional and personal needs.”

There was no evidence presented in court that Hankerson knew Kelly was abusing his niece, but he was identified in another manager’s testimony as the man who introduced Kelly to Aaliyah at her Chicago home.

Insider contacted Hankerson through his label, “Blackground Records”, but did not get an immediate response.

Aaliyah sang for Kelly, and the R&B star took an interest in her. He wrote songs for her—including her hit “Age Ai n’t Nothing But a Number”—and they performed together.

A few years after meeting Aaliyah, Kelly bribed an Illinois employee to obtain a fake ID so he could marry her in a hotel room when she was 15, witnesses testified. The purpose of the marriage, one of Kelly’s other victims testified, was so that she could have an abortion without her parents’ consent.

Without citing Hankerson, Donnelly spoke sternly about the role Kelly’s employees played in allowing him to abuse Aaliyah and other girls and women.

Her runners, managers and others in her inner circle — specifically Demetrius Smith — knew what Kelly was doing to Aaliyah and others, and they did nothing to stop it, she said. Smith testified that he once confronted Kelly because he believed he was being “too playful” with the young woman and that he might be “playing” with her.

“Mr. Smith knew what you were doing, but just when you thought she was pregnant and thought you’d get caught for what you were doing, he and his other handlers helped bribe someone to get a fake ID for that child so you could marry her because you wanted to cover up that you were having sex with a young woman,” she said. “They wanted to protect you and your career and they helped you, and the victim didn’t matter.”

r kelly aaliyah

This combined photo shows singer R. Kelly after the first day of jury selection in his child pornography trial at Chicago’s Cook County Criminal Court on May 9, 2008, left, late R&B singer and actress Aaliyah during a photo shoot in New York on May 9, 2001.

AP photo


an abuse company

During Kelly’s six-week trial, jurors heard from Kelly’s victims, employees and others about how he controlled the young women and girls in his orbit.

Evidence presented at trial showed that once Kelly established control, he would sexually and physically abuse his victims, which he made to follow a strict set of rules that governed how they dressed, how they spoke, where they went and who they looked at.

Some of the employees were forced to hand out Kelly’s phone number to young people at hangouts like McDonald’s or her concerts. Others were in charge of enforcing their strict rules when they were in their homes.

Evidence presented at trial showed that once Kelly established control, he would sexually and physically abuse his victims, which he made to follow a strict set of rules that governed how they dressed, how they spoke, where they went and who they looked at.

If Kelly found them breaking one of her rules, the punishments were severe and humiliating, the evidence showed.

“There are countless other examples of employees who supported or allowed your behavior. They heard you beating these victims. They knew you were trapping them in a room or on a bus,” Donnelly told R. Kelly on Wednesday.

Donnelly questioned whether officials turned a blind eye to an “exception to all standards of human decency” just because he was famous.

“Did they agree with you, as we heard at the trial, that you can do whatever you want because you consider yourself a genius who should be ‘allowed to do what I want because of what I give this world?'” she asked. “There is much, much more that could be said about people who have condoned this and condoned this for all these years, but these people do not stand before me for sentencing today.”

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