Chicago – Lawyers for indicted superstar R Kelly filed a motion Thursday for his immediate release from solitary confinement at the federal jail in Chicago, where the singer has allegedly been deprived of any contact with other inmates, TV access and outdoor activity.
Kelly, 52, has been held in isolation at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since July 11, when federal agents arrested him on sexual misconduct charges while he was walking his dog outside his home in the Trump Tower.
His lawyers allege the draconian conditions in the Loop high rise jail’s Special Housing Unit have unfairly punished Kelly even though he has not been convicted of any of the allegations against him.
It has also seriously hampered his ability to prepare for trial, with his legal team forced to meet with Kelly – who is kept in handcuffs – in a cramped room with no table, just a small shelf with “not enough space to put a piece of paper and have it lie flat,” the motion alleged.
“Given that Mr. Kelly is a pretrial detainee not yet convicted of any crime, his current conditions … violate the cruel and unusual punishment standards of the Eighth Amendment,” as well as other constitutional safeguards to due process, his lawyers, Steve Greenberg, and Michael Leonard, wrote in the 14-page filing.
US District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who ordered Kelly held without bond in July, is slated to take up the motion Wednesday.
Last month, the acting US marshal in Chicago told Leinenweber that the restrictive confinement was for Kelly’s safety. He also said Kelly had so far refused offers of a cellmate or to be moved to the general population.
However, in their motion, Kelly’s lawyers said the Bureau of Prisons officials had cited his celebrity status and the charges involving sexual abuse of minors in refusing their requests to move him out of the SHU.
“The issue is that although he may be ready to go to the general population, for safety and security reasons, he many not be appropriate for general population at this time because of his offense and notoriety,” one BOP official wrote in an email Monday to Kelly’s lawyers, according to the defense motion.
The email stated that Kelly’s status would “continue to be monitored and reviewed.” That notion was scoffed at by Kelly’s attorneys as “utterly nonsensical,” since the conduct he’s charged with, and his status as a celebrity aren’t likely to change.
The 13-count federal indictment brought in Chicago alleged Kelly and two of his associates fixed the R&B superstar’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.
The indictment also alleged Kelly, former manager Derrel McDavid, and onetime employee Milton “June” Brown paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes before they fell into the hands of prosecutors.
A separate federal indictment brought against Kelly alone in New York accused the singer of racketeering conspiracy, alleging Kelly identified underage girls attending his concerts and grooming them for later sexual abuse.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges.