R Kelly seeks bail, cites fear of being exposed to COVID-19
R Kelly has asked a Federal Judge to free him from a Chicago jail where he is awaiting trial, as scant precautions to stem the spread of the coronavirus put him at risk.
The 53 year old R&B singer is facing several dozen counts of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York.
The charges range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying him with girls.
R Kelly’s lawyer said hand sanitizer and soap are scarce commodities at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre with most of its 700 inmates held in small, two-man cells that makes it impossible to practice social distancing.
In an 18-page filing the singers lawyers said: "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.”
It did not describe his health issues but said he fell within the high-risk category.
The application said should he be released, Kelly would live with his girlfriend Joycelyn Savage at a Chicago loft, where he could be electronically monitored.
His trial in Chicago is scheduled to begin on October 13.
The presiding judge in his federal case in New York also ordered that Kelly be detained while awaiting trial, so his lawyers would also have to persuade that judge to grant him bail before he could be freed in Chicago.
The federal courthouse in Chicago has delayed civil and most criminal proceedings, to allow judges and staff to work from home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
It continues to hold hearings deemed urgent, some of which can be conducted by phone or video streaming.