CHICAGO (CBS) — Twice rejected in his requests to be granted bail amid the coronavirus pandemic, singer R. Kelly is again asking a federal judge to release him from the federal lockup in Chicago, as he awaits multiple trials on sex crime charges.
This time, Kelly’s lawyers have armed themselves with a medical report indicating Kelly is overweight and borderline diabetic, putting him at higher risk from COVID-19.
Kelly’s defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, wrote in his filing that Kelly underwent medical tests in March, and jail officials withheld them for nearly a month before providing him with a report on Thursday, revealing he “is 1/10 of one point below diabetic.” Greenberg said Kelly also has high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“These conditions also make him a higher risk for bridging the 1/10th and having diabetes, as does the fact he’s overweight,” Kelly said. “It is a fact that people who are diabetic are at a much higher risk for serious complications should they be infected with Covid 19.”
According to the Bureau of Prisons website, the MCC has 74 inmates and 20 staff with confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday. However, Greenberg argued the data being provided by the Bureau of Prisons is unreliable, in part due to a lack of testing in the jail.
“The institution itself has either unintentionally miscounted or intentionally misrepresented the amount of cases they have. The numbers have
swung wildly, up and down. They have been posting on the public website numbers that are significantly lower than prosecutors have announced in court,” Greenberg wrote. “The simple fact is that it appears that there is a serious spread within the BOP and this institution.”
Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly has twice before rejected Kelly’s requests for bail during the pandemic, stating that defense attorneys have not been able to demonstrate he is uniquely at risk for contracting severe illness from COVID-19.
Donnelly gave federal prosecutors until Monday to respond to Kelly’s latest motion.
In previous filings, prosecutors have maintained that Kelly remains a flight risk and a potential danger to the community, particularly witnesses in the case.
Kelly, 53, 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.