CHICAGO (CBS) — Attorneys for R. Kelly filed a motion Thursday hoping to get him out of custody because of coronavirus.
In a petition to U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, Kelly’s attorneys claimed the singer is afraid of catching the virus because of the close quarters at the federal jail downtown.
“The risk is real; (the Bureau of Prisons) has requested that self-reporting be curtailed, and those who do report are quarantined,” attorneys wrote. “Those now detained cannot be protected from the coming jail epidemic, and if infected will without question suffer from inferior health care.”
Attorneys went on to claim that Kelly is at risk because of his age and health, and argued that social distancing is not possible at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
“The health risk to Mr. Kelly, because of his age and existing health issues, especially considering the conditions at the MCC, necessitates his release on bail,” attorneys wrote. “For health reasons people are supposed to remain at a “social distance” which the experts have defined as at least six feet. They are supposed to avoid interaction. These are the basic steps to try and not become infected. These basic steps are simply impossible in a jail setting. No matter what steps they take the sanitation will be substandard, the risk of an internal pandemic at the MCC is great, and if one does get sick jail healthcare is notoriously substandard.”
Given some predictions that millions could die in the U.S. alone of COVID-19, attorneys wrote: “Requiring people to reside in a custodial jail setting is tantamount to making them drink poison. Regardless of any allegations, the fact is Mr. Kelly is a pretrial detainee.”
Kelly is requesting to stay with his girlfriend in the South Loop on electronic monitoring.
So far, there have not been any reported coronavirus cases at the MCC, where Kelly is in custody on multiple sex abuse charges.
Federal prosecutors in Chicago have charged him with videotaping himself having sex with underage girls, and paying hush money and intimidating witnesses to cover up his crimes. That trial is scheduled for April.
Cook County prosecutors have charged Kelly with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse against four women years ago. The first of those trials is scheduled for September.
He also faces charges in New York and Minnesota.