BROOKLYN, New York — For years, the story of R. Kelly’s marriage to 15-year-old Aaliyah Haughton was shrouded in mystery. The two denied it had taken place, even after the marriage license was published by the media.
But on Wednesday, during Kelly’s federal racketeering and sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn, the minister who married the two singers on Aug. 31, 1994, spoke publicly for the very first time.
Nathan Edmond, now 73, told the court he had never met either Kelly or Haughton prior to the ceremony and had not known who they were.
“I didn’t think it was anybody special — I didn’t understand it at all,” Edmond said in his testimony, which took place over a video conference call. Edmond spoke after being subpoenaed, and he acknowledged that he did “not especially” want to be taking the stand.
According to the federal indictment against Kelly, he met Haughton when she was 12 years old and began a sexual relationship with her when she was still a young teen. Prosecutors allege that Kelly married her because he believed she was pregnant, and that it could keep her from testifying against him. Kelly was previously charged with bribing an official in Illinois to get a fake ID for Haughton, and the marriage license falsely listed her age as 18. Edmond was then called in to handle the ceremony.
“A friend of Mr. Kelly’s, who was also a friend and associate of mine, asked me to do him a favor,” Edmond recalled. Kelly’s friend, Keith Williams, knew Edmond because they both worked in real estate, Edmond said.
It was a quick ceremony, “about 10 minutes or less,” in a hotel in the Chicago suburbs, Edmond said. The only attendees were himself, Kelly, Haughton, Williams, and “about three other gentlemen” whom Edmond did not know.
Before conducting the ceremony, Edmond said he was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, but he refused, saying it didn’t look legally sound. “I looked at it, I read it, then I kind of chuckled… and said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.”
Instead, he was asked to give “his word” that he would never speak about the ceremony, to which he agreed. He was offered somewhere between $25 and $50 to officiate, but he declined the money, he said.
For the wedding ceremony, Edmond said Kelly and Haughton wore matching jogging suits, each with one pants leg rolled up to the knee. “You couldn’t see her whole face, because her hair was over her face,” Edmond said of the teenage singer.
Edmond has been contacted by the media over the years, he said, but until Wednesday, he had never spoken publicly about the wedding ceremony.