R. Kelly's Request for Release from Prison Due to Coronavirus Concerns Denied
"While I am sympathetic to the defendant's understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release," U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly reportedly wrote in her decision
The motion for bond, filed in U.S District Court on March 26 by Kelly’s lawyers, said that the singer — who is being held without bail after being arrested on several sex crime charges — was within the category of people described as high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (TMZ reports Kelly, 53, underwent emergency hernia surgery in January.)
Yet U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly denied the motion Tuesday.
“The defendant is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses,” Donnelly wrote in the ruling, according to Variety. “The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”
She added, “While I am sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release,” the New York Post‘s Page Six reports.
The original filing claimed that sanitizer and soap are scarce in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where the majority of inmates are kept in small, two-person cells that make social distancing difficult.
“The visitor’s bathroom on the entry-level floor of the MCC frequently has no soap or paper towels available, which makes it difficult for individuals entering the facility to adequately clean their hands before visiting,” the filing read.
Kelly’s lawyers also stated in the filing, “The courts have long recognized that there is no greater necessity than keeping a defendant alive, no matter the charge.”
Kelly’s trial date in New York is currently set for July, while Chicago is scheduled for Oct. 13.
As PEOPLE previously reported, Kelly pleaded not guilty to 11 felony sexual abuse counts after he was charged by Cook County prosecutors in Chicago last May. The charges included five counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, stemming from one accuser who claimed Kelly abused her in 2009 and 2010 while she was underage.
A month later, the singer was arrested again and indicted on federal charges including child pornography, racketeering and obstruction of justice in both Illinois and New York, indictment documents and his lawyer confirmed.
Then in August, Kelly was charged with two sex crimes in Minnesota after allegedly paying a teen girl $200 to dance nude back in 2001.
Most recently, the singer pleaded not guilty to a racketeering charge brought forward by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in December.
On March 13, the singer’s New York indictment was updated and replaced, adding five acts of racketeering and charging Kelly with four more counts of violating the Mann Act. “We do not believe it fundamentally changes anything,” Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg said of the latest charges.
Kelly has maintained his innocence throughout his legal troubles.
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