R. Kelly’s attorneys argued in a court filing Friday the controversial R&B singer should be released from custody based on a “confirmed diagnosis of diabetes” that puts him at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Kelly, 53, whose real name is Robert Kelly, has been held at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest last summer. As of Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that two detainees and five employees at the facility are infected with the virus.
Kelly’s attorneys further claimed the Grammy winner doesn’t pose a flight risk or a risk to the public and argued his release is “necessary for the preparation of his defense.”
Kelly faces a litany of criminal charges across multiple jurisdictions, including federal indictments in Illinois and New York alleging racketeering, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. He also faces charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Cook County and soliciting a minor and prostitution in Minnesota.
Friday’s filing comes after Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg penned a letter in May to the federal judge in New York seeking bail for Kelly while claiming he was “overweight” and “likely diabetic.” Greenberg said a test revealed “that he is 1/10 of one point below diabetic” and that Kelly also suffers from high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.
Nevertheless, federal judges in Illinois and New York have shot down attempts to have Kelly released from custody amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
In their latest motion, Kelly’s attorneys argued he doesn’t present a danger to the community or a flight risk, noting he didn’t run off while he was under federal investigation prior to his risk.
Kelly’s attorneys said it was “folly” to assume he would obstruct prosecutors upon his release and pointed to his contacts with a former girlfriend, who is now one of his alleged victims and cooperating with authorities. She has visited Kelly in jail, and they “regularly communicated by phone and email,” according to the filing.
“There is no evidence he ever tried to obstruct or influence with respect to her portion of the indictment,” Kelly’s lawyers stated. “If he did not try to obstruct or influence his own girlfriend, then how is it at all credible that he would do it to someone else in the future.”
Kelly’s attorneys also argued he hasn’t been able to properly prepare for his upcoming trials due to restrictions put in place in the wake of the outbreak, adding that his “literacy issues” have compounded the problem.
Last year, Kelly’s lawyers said he failed to show up to hearings in a civil sex abuse lawsuit because he can’t read. But Kelly’s failure to appear in that case contradicts a key claim in the latest filing: That Kelly has a “perfect, unblemished” of showing up for court.
While both federal cases have been delayed by the pandemic — and could be pushed back further — Kelly is now set to stand trial on Sept. 29 in Brooklyn and Oct. 13 in Chicago.
The charges against Kelly began shortly after Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary series detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer. Kelly, who has long faced accusations of having sexual relationships with minors, was acquitted of child pornography charges in Cook County court in 2008.