Despite suffering an attack at the hands of a fellow inmate, embattled artist R. Kelly won’t be immediately released from prison, per a new appeals-court decision.
For background, the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has been incarcerated in his native Chicago since last July and is facing felony charges in Illinois, New York, and Minnesota. These latest sex-abuse allegations – the 53-year-old was indicted on 13 child-pornography charges in 2002 – arrived soon after the initial season of Surviving R. Kelly aired on Lifetime. And in the interim, Kelly’s counsel has made several (unsuccessful) attempts to secure their client’s supervised release.
In April, we covered another of Kelly’s much-publicized efforts to post bail. Citing the possible health risks presented by the novel coronavirus, he and his legal team lobbied for house arrest, but U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly promptly denied the request. When explaining the decision, the federal judge noted the witness-tampering allegations federal authorities levied against Kelly in his aforementioned 2002 case (in 2008, the jury found him not guilty on all counts), as well as the particular difficulty the court would have monitoring his internet and phone usage amid the pandemic.
As an aside, Digital Music News was first to report in mid-August that police had arrested three men for allegedly bribing and threatening several of R. Kelly’s accusers. The special agent in charge of the case, Peter C. Fitzhugh, said: “These crimes shock the conscience. The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid consequences of his alleged crimes.”
Late last month, a prisoner attacked R. Kelly, reportedly cornering the singer in his bed and inflicting damage with a flurry of punches. Subsequently, the assaulted artist’s lawyers took the opportunity to renew their calls for a release, writing on social media: “We should not incarcerate people indefinitely because we cannot provide them with due process!”
Shortly thereafter, the individual who targeted R. Kelly claimed that MCC Chicago employees encouraged and allowed him to carry out the beatdown; the comments prompted Kelly’s legal team to expedite their newest attempt to score an early release for their client.
Yesterday, however, Judge Harry Leinenweber denied the motion requesting that Kelly immediately return home, concurring with the previously noted concerns from the lower court. Even so, the judge established a deadline (September 21st) for prosecutors to formally file their arguments against the release; arguments to the contrary will be due back one week later.
If R. Kelly and his team demonstrate that the musician is unsafe and unable to adequately prepare for his trials, he may be released. The three-time Grammy winner’s aforementioned cases were slated to begin this fall, but have been delayed due to the novel coronavirus crisis.
More as this develops.