A federal judge in New York has denied R. Kelly’s request to be released from prison on bail due to the COVID-19 crisis. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Anne Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York ruled the singer must remain in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, Illinois, as Billboard reports.
Kelly faces several states and federal charges. In New York, the federal charges include racketeering, transportation to engage in illegal sexual activity and coercion of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. In Illinois, he is awaiting trial in federal court on several sexual abuse allegations including child pornography as well as Cook County sexual assault and abuse charges. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the indictments. In Minnesota, he has also been charged with solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes.
Last month, Kelly’s attorney’s filed a motion requesting their client’s release on bail due to COVID-19 concerns. “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 Anne Donnelly wrote in her opinion, per Billboard. “At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the MCC in Chicago.”
Donnelly cited that the Bureau of Prisons had already undertaken measures to protect inmates, including providing soap, suspending legal and social visits as well as inmate facility transfers, and screening and testing was made available. She said he was also not among the at-risk groups identified by the Centers for Disease Control.
“The defendant is fifty-three years old, twelve years younger than the cohort of ‘older adults’ defined by the CDC as high risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” Donnelly wrote. “Although the defendant has had surgery during his incarceration, he does not explain how his surgical history places him at a higher risk of severe illness.”
She added that the defendant has not demonstrated that he’s not a flight risk, which makes him unsuitable for release. He is in custody due to “the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses,” she wrote.
Last month, additional federal charges — which include two new victims — were filed in a superseding indictment in New York.