R. Kelly’s Prediabetic Diagnosis Not Compelling Reason for Release, Judge Rules

R. Kelly
E. Jason Wambsgans-Pool/Getty Images

R. Kelly appears in court with his attorney Steve Greenberg (L) for a hearing to request that he be allowed to travel to Dubai at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on March 22, 2019 in Chicago.

R. Kelly has been denied pretrial release for a third time by a New York judge who ruled that being prediabetic is not a compelling reason for release. This is Kelly’s third attempt since the COVID-19 outbreak to be released on bail pending trial. Judge Ann Donnelly issued her decision Friday (May 15), finding that Kelly’s "diagnosis of prediabetes — a relatively common and treatable condition — is not a ‘compelling reason’ for his release.”

“I do not agree that a diagnosis of prediabetes presents a compelling reason for the defendant’s release,” wrote Donnelly in her decision.

Donnelly says that while diabetes is a risk factor in contracting COVID-19, prediabetes -- “a condition that affects nearly one in three American adults” -- is not. Donnelly says she also reviewed Kelly’s medical records herself and determined that he is receiving adequate care to manage this condition.

This was the singer’s third bid to urge the court to release him since the outbreak of COVID-19. U.S. Department of Justice Attorneys have repeatedly argued against his release and asked Donnelly to keep the singer in prison pending trial, calling him a flight risk.

“The health care professionals at the [Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago] see him regularly, and are working with him to implement lifestyle changes so that his condition improves,” she wrote. “Those recommendations include diet, weight loss and exercise.”

R. Kelly’s legal team filed court papers on May 1 informing the court that the singer is “likely diabetic,” which they said puts him at a high risk of serious complications if he contracts COVID-19. His attorneys filed this motion 11 days after Donnelly denied for a second time the singer’s request to be released from custody while awaiting trial.

In that motion, Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg says the singer 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. Due to the diagnosis, Kelly’s legal team pleaded with Donnelly for release pending trial, maintaining that he is not a flight risk. Greenberg argued the situation for the singer is exacerbated because the prison had been upfront regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 in the facility and have intentionally misrepresented the amount of cases they have.

"In reading the Court's decision this afternoon we remain greatly concerned for our client for two reasons," said Greenberg in a statement following the ruling. "First, and most immediate, is the effect the Covid-19 problem at the MCC will have on his life, not just his health, as his particular medical conditions place him at a greater risk and the virus has overwhelmed the Chicago MCC. Second, we worry about justice being done. How can an innocent man, (until the US Government PROVES his guilt on all elements of every criminal allegation, beyond a reasonable doubt) obtain a fair trial when he can have no visits with his lawyers in the MCC in order to prepare for trial, the government won't tell us the name of his accusers, and also won't send us the most important discovery, like alleged witness/victim statements until shortly before the trial? We are not asking for special treatment. We just want fundamental fairness. With respect....This ain't it. "

Kelly faces 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. He was jailed in July and has been awaiting trial in a jail one block from the Chicago courthouse, where he attends pretrial hearings. He has participated in hearings in his New York case by video.

This story has been updated with a complete statement from R. Kelly's attorney.

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