R. Kelly recently asked a judge to free him from federal jail in Chicago, where he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges, due to the new coronavirus pandemic, but the request has been rejected.
A court filing by his lawyers claimed the spread of the new coronavirus behind bars puts Kelly’s life at risk while he is being held at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center.
On March 26, his lawyers asked that the 53-year-old singer be released, citing his age and a recent surgery as risk factors.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly denied the motion and said Kelly remains 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.
“While I am sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established a compelling reason warranting his release,” the court docs read. “At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the MCC in Chicago.”
The court docs said the Bureau of Prisons has announced “emergency measures to protect inmates and staff, including suspending all legal and social visits, suspending inmate facility transfers, making soap available to inmates, screening and testing inmates and staff, and modifying operations at detention facilities like the MCC to maximize social distancing.”
The I Believe I Can Fly singer faces several dozen counts of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York, from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying him with girls. Kelly has denied ever abusing anyone.
If Kelly had been granted release, he would have lived with his girlfriend, Joycelyn Savage, at a Chicago loft apartment and could have remained on home confinement with an electronic monitor, Kelly’s filing previously said. His trial date in Chicago is Oct. 13.
The judge in his federal case in New York also ordered Kelly be detained while awaiting trial.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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