Judge: R. Kelly must stay locked up amid coronavirus crisis

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FILE – In this June 6, 2019, file photo, singer R. Kelly pleaded not guilty to 11 additional sex-related felonies during a court hearing before Judge Lawrence Flood at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. R. Kelly, already facing sexual abuse charges brought by Illinois prosecutors, was arrested in Chicago Thursday, July 11, 2019 on a federal grand jury indictment listing 13 counts including sex crimes and obstruction of justice. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)

NEW YORK (AP) – A federal judge in Brooklyn denied R&B singer R. Kelly’s request for release from jail in Chicago on Tuesday, despite his fears of contracting the coronavirus behind bars.

“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.”

District Judge Ann Donnelly of Brooklyn’s DECISION

The 53-year-old Kelly has been in custody in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago since his indictment on federal charges for obstruction of justice, racketeering, and possessing images of child sexual abuse, referred to as child pornography.

Three staff members at the federal lockup have tested positive for the virus, but no inmates have been reported with infections. Cases have been reported at Cook County Jail in Chicago and other jails and prisons around the country. Kelly’s attorneys filed a motion in late March, arguing that people in such facilities are at particular risk of contracting the virus.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said the Chicago lockup and other federal facilities have taken steps to prevent the virus from spreading. Further, they wrote that a “generalized risk” that an inmate could contract the virus doesn’t justify their release.

Kelly has denied abusing anyone, and pleaded not guilty to all charges, including several dozen counts of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York, from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls.

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