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Judge denies R. Kelly’s request to be released from jail amid coronavirus

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(CBS NEWS) – A U.S. district judge in New York on Friday denied R. Kelly‘s third request for temporary release amid the coronavirus pandemic. Kelly, 53, faces sex crime charges in four separate jurisdictions in Chicago, New York, and Minnesota.

Kelly is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago. The Bureau of Prisons said there are currently 18 confirmed active COVID-19 cases among inmates and 14 among jail staff; while 122 inmates and 16 staff have recovered from the virus.

Kelly’s lawyers argued medical tests showed he is “likely diabetic,” and at a higher risk of contacting COVID-19 or a severe illness. But Judge Ann Donnelly said she did not believe prediabeties presents a “compelling reason for the defendant’s release.”

Donnelly also agreed with prosecutors that Kelly posed a flight risk, noting that he is accused of paying and intimidating witnesses for their silence. Donnelly also noted that judges in other jurisdictions where Kelly has been charged have also found he is a flight risk and a danger. 

The federal charges in New York accuse Kelly of using his fame to recruit young women and girls for illegal sexual activity. The racketeering case also accuses him of kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child and forced labor. Jury selection in that case is now scheduled to begin in September.

Federal prosecutors in Chicago have charged him with videotaping himself having sex with underage girls and paying hush money and intimidating witnesses to cover up his alleged crimes. That trial is scheduled for October.

Cook County prosecutors have charged Kelly with multiple counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse against four women. The first of those trials is scheduled for September.

Minnesota prosecutors have charged him with engaging in prostitution with an underage girl. No trial date has been set in that case.

It’s unclear if any of Kelly’s trials will be held as currently scheduled, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If convicted of all the charges, Kelly could spend the rest of his life in prison.

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