R. Kelly Requests Temporary Release from Prison due to COVID-19 Scares

Singer R. Kelly is seen in a court hearing in Chicago, Illinois in September 2019.
Source: Forbes

Singer R. Kelly is seen in a court hearing in Chicago, Illinois in September 2019. Source: Forbes

Kelli Mann

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in late March, former R&B singer R. Kelly, requested temporary release from jail out of fear of being infected with COVID-19. On Tuesday, Judge Ann M. Donnelly announced that Kelly’s request had been denied for the safety of witnesses and others involved in his case. 

In July of 2019, Kelly was arrested on the account of multiple federal charges. He is currently being held at Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting his trial on racketeering, sexual misconduct and other charges in three jurisdictions. On March 26th, Kelly’s attorneys requested temporary release from jail noting his age, 53, and recent surgery that may make him more susceptible to a severe bout of the illness. Although, Kelly “does not explain how his surgical history places him at higher risk of severe illness.”

Judge Donnelly, denied the request stating that Kelly still poses a threat to the safety of the general public and flight risk. “The defendant is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate the prospective witnesses. The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed,” Donnelly wrote, “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.”

Kelly’s attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Tom Farinella, asked that Kelly be placed on home confinement in an apartment complex in Chicago. Additionally, the attorneys complained that the suspended visiting hours, due to the worry behind the spread of COVID-19, are preventing them from meeting with Kelly to prepare for his upcoming trials. 

Kelly’s original arguments that he was within the group of people that the Center for Disease Control deemed at high risk of severe illness. His lawyer also called upon the Bail Reform Act, which allows the “temporary release” of a person in pretrial custody if it’s seen as necessary “for preparation of the person’s defense or for another compelling reason.” As for this argument, Judge Donnelly added that the singer’s trial, which is now scheduled for July, will most likely be delayed but, “as conditions return to normal, [Kelly] and his lawyers will have additional time to prepare for trial.”