A federal judge denied R. Kelly’s request for release from prison due to the coronavirus on Tuesday, finding that the singer was not the most at-risk for the illness and, instead, “poses danger to the community, particularly to prospective witnesses.”
Attorneys for Kelly, who is awaiting trial based on charges of racketeering, sex trafficking and other sex crimes in a Chicago federal prison, requested in late March that Kelly be released on bail because he was at risk for being infected with the novel coronavirus.
In Tuesday’s decision, U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly said that while she was “sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19,” Kelly had not “established compelling reasons warranting his release.”
Donnelly said that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Kelly is currently being held, and that, at 53 years old, Kelly was 12 years younger than the group of “older adults” that the CDC considers to be at high risk for COVID-19.
“The defendant is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses. The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed,” Donnelly also wrote.
“The defendant here has not demonstrated an analogous change in circumstances that would alter the Court’s conclusion that he is a flight risk and that he poses danger to the community, particularly to prospective witnesses.”
Kelly’s Brooklyn trial is scheduled to begin on July 7. He has pleaded not guilty. “We are disappointed but it doesn’t stop the fight,” Douglas Anton, an attorney for Kelly, told TheWrap. “We are certainly not giving up.”