CHICAGO (CBS) — A judge on Tuesday for a second time denied a request for R. Kelly to go free on bail because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly issued the latest ruling. She noted that she had denied Kelly’s motion back on April 7 for a bail hearing and an order granting his temporary release.
Donnelly noted that the grounds Kelly’s team had in mind are that conditions at the Metropolitan Correctional Center have deteriorated – and the judge agreed that was true despite the best efforts by the Bureau of Prisons and staff to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.
But Donnelly also noted that Kelly’s team does not dispute that he is not uniquely at risk for contracting severe illness from COVID-19 and that the entire Bureau of Prisons population cannot be released because of COVID-19.
Still, Kelly claims he should be released while other inmates should not because the court can fashion conditions to “defray the assertedly negligible risk that he might flee or obstruct justice.”
Donnelly noted that Kelly’s team is holding up the 2002 state criminal charges against him as proof that he would not flee. But now, Kelly is charged with tampering with witnesses, and a court case dating back 18 years is no longer sufficient proof that he would not flee if released, Donnelly wrote.
“Even aside from the risk of flight, the risk that the defendant would try to obstruct justice or intimidate prospective witnesses has not dissipated, and poses a danger to the community,” the judge wrote.
Kelly faces sex crime charges in four separate jurisdictions in Chicago, New York, and Minnesota.
The federal charges in New York accuse Kelly of using his fame to recruit young women and girls for illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, and forced labor. Jury selection in that case is now scheduled to begin on Sept. 29.
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 October.
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.
Minnesota prosecutors have charged him with engaging in prostitution with an underage girl. No trial date has been set in that case.
It’s unclear if any of Kelly’s trials will be held as currently scheduled, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If convicted of all the charges, Kelly could face the rest of his life in prison.