R. Kelly 'Likely Diabetic' With High Risk of COVID-19 Complications, Says Attorney

R. Kelly
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after a hearing on sexual abuse charges on May 7, 2019 in Chicago.

R. Kelly is "likely diabetic," which puts him at a high risk of serious complications if he contracts COVID-19, according legal documents filed by the singer’s attorney on Friday (May 1). In them, attorney Steven Greenberg demands for the third time that Kelly be released from prison. Eleven days prior, the judge overseeing the case denied the singer's second request to be released from custody while awaiting trial.

Greenberg says Kelly just learned that he tested "1/10 of one point below diabetic, at the very top of the high risk category." That new diagnosis coupled with the fact that Kelly is overweight and suffers from high blood pressure and cholesterol issues puts him at high risk of serious complications if infected with COVID-19, according to Greenberg.

In the motion, Greenberg pleads with U.S. Judge Ann Donnelly to immediately release the singer, arguing that not only is his health in jeopardy but also that he is not a flight risk. Greenberg says that the Bureau of Prisons failed to disclose the test results to Kelly for over a month and that no medical action has been taken to mitigate any of the singer’s underlying conditions demonstrates the BOP is not caring for Kelly's safety. Greenberg also says the situation requires immediate action because the prison has not been upfront regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 in the facility and have intentionally misrepresented the amount of cases they have.

"The simple fact is that it appears that there is a serious spread within the BOP and this institution," Greenberg says in the memo.

This is the singer’s third bid to urge the court to release him since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Department of Justice Attorneys previously argued against his release and have repeatedly asked Donnelly to keep the singer in prison pending trial, calling him a flight risk.

In previously filings opposing Kelly’s release, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said he opposed release because the singer did not have any underlying medical conditions. He also called him a flight risk and a danger to the community. In a memo to the court, Donoghue reminded the court that the charges against Kelly in Chicago include participation in a long-running conspiracy to obstruct justice and a conspiracy to receive child pornography, including during the years he was on bail awaiting trial. Donoghue argues that there is probable cause to believe that Kelly committed at least five serious crimes while out on bail.

Prosecutors also argued then that it was "disingenuous" for Kelly to say he has "no means to go anywhere," considering that "in the first quarter of 2020 alone Kelly received over $200k in royalty proceeds." In addition, he said that Kelly still continues to have "significant network of individuals to assist him" on the outside and to do his bidding, including posting on social media in support of him and overtly trying to intimidate his accusers.

"While the government recognizes the seriousness of COVID-19 and the increased risk to certain federal prisoners, a generalized risk alone does not justify releasing the entire BOP populations, much less a prisoner being held for racketeering charges involving crimes against specified victims and with a history of obstructing justice and violating his bail conditions by committing serious crimes," read Donoghue's previous motion to the court.

If released on bond as requested, the singer would live with his girlfriend Joycelyn Savage at a Chicago apartment complex. Greenberg says Kelly would submit to any release conditions including wearing a GPS electronic monitoring device as well as restricted internet and cell phone access.

"Mr. Kelly is presumed innocent, his case is defensible, and he does not have any criminal record," said Greenberg in his motion to the court.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Kelly’s latest request.

Kelly faces several dozen counts of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York. Those range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. He was jailed in July and has been awaiting trial in a jail one block from the Chicago courthouse, where he attends pre trial hearings. He has participated in hearings in his New York case by video.

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