A federal judge in New York on Tuesday denied a request that accused serial sexual abuser R. Kelly be released from jail, rejecting claims by his lawyers that he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
In her opinion, Ann M. Donnelly, United States District Judge in Brooklyn, NY, wrote that lawyers for R. Kelly failed to prove their client is no longer “a flight risk or a danger to the community.”
News reports say 'at least 2' workers at the Chicago jail where R. Kelly is housed have tested positive for coronavirus.
From reporting by Marina Fang for HuffPo:
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly rejected the attempt, pointing out that Kelly, 53, is younger than the age group that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider to be at high risk. His alleged history of abuse means that he continues to be “a flight risk or a danger to the community,” she wrote in a court filing, and his lawyers have failed to prove that has not changed.
In addition, Donnelly said his surgery in January, which was reportedly to repair a hernia, has been completed, and he “does not explain how his surgical history places him at a higher risk of severe illness.”
“While I am sympathetic to the defendant’s understandable anxiety about COVID-19, he has not established compelling reasons warranting his release,” she wrote Tuesday. “At present, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the MCC in Chicago. The Bureau of Prisons has announced emergency measures to protect inmates and staff, including suspending all legal and social visits, suspending inmate facility transfers, making soap available to inmates, screening and testing inmates and staff, and modifying operations at detention facilities like the MCC to maximize social distancing.”
According to the Chicago Sun Times, at least two staff members at the jail have tested positive. Across the country, prisons and jails have reported COVID-19 outbreaks, and they often contain conditions that could exacerbate the spread of the virus.
Comment from the NY judge worth noting in the four-page order denying release to R. Kelly: "It appears unlikely that the trial will proceed as scheduled on July 7, 2020."
— Jon Seidel (@SeidelContent) April 7, 2020