R. Kelly was denied release from jail due to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly denied Kelly’s motion to be released from the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center. He is being held there on charges of racketeering, sexual misconduct and other charges in three jurisdictions. On March 26, his lawyers requested that he be released as he awaits trial as the health pandemic sweeps the globe.
His lawyers cited his age, 53, as a potential reason for why his life would be endangered by the airborne illness.
His attorneys also asked that he be placed on home confinement at the Roosevelt Collections Loft apartment complex in Chicago. They further argued that the prison’s restrictions made it hard for them to prepare for his upcoming trial.
“This is not a request to open the doors and allow all inmates out, this is a specific request concerning a specific inmate,” they argued.
Variety reported that the Brooklyn judge denied the request because he is considered a flight risk.
“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. “The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”
Donnelly further wrote that COVID-19 was not reason enough to secure his freedom.
“While I am sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release. At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the MCC in Chicago.”
The judge further wrote that Kelly “is fifty-three years old, twelve years younger than the cohort of ‘older adults’ defined by the CDC as at high risk.”
The government also pushed back against the claims that the embattled R&B singer is not being afforded due protection and basic necessities to ensure his health and safety. The prosecution cited that MCC Chicago inmates were given free soap and the ability to buy more from the commissary.
“Simply residing in MCC Chicago cannot be a basis for being released,” prosecutors wrote.
The “Ignition” singer has been detained since last summer after federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago accused him of sexually exploiting young women and girls for almost two decades. Kidnapping, forced labor and sending child pornography across state lines were some of the indictments.
Surviving R. Kelly was a Lifetime docuseries that premiered last year which featured commentary from several of his alleged victims.