CHICAGO (WGN) -- Singer R. Kelly cited the novel coronavirus in asking a federal judge Thursday to free him from a federal jail in Chicago as he awaits trial on child pornography and other charges, a court filing by his lawyers saying scant precautions to stem the spread of the virus behind bars put Kelly's life at risk.
Sanitizer and even soap is hard to come by in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, with most of its 700 inmates held in small, two-man cells that make the kind of social distancing called for to thwart the transmission of COVID-19 impossible, the filing in U.S. District Court in Chicago says.
“The health risk to Mr. Kelly, because of his age and existing health issues, especially considering the conditions at the MCC, necessitates his release on bail,” the filing says.
If Kelly is released, he would live with his girlfriend, Joycelyn Savage, at a Chicago loft apartment and could remain on home confinement with an electronic monitor, the filing says. His trial date in Chicago is Oct. 13.
Kelly, 53, 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 him with girls.
The judge in his federal case in New York also ordered that Kelly be detained while awaiting trial, so Kelly's lawyers would also have to persuade that judge to grant him bail before he could be freed in Chicago.
The federal courthouse in Chicago has delayed civil and most criminal proceedings to allow judges and staff to work from home amid the coronavirus outbreak. It continues to hold hearings deemed urgent, some of which can be conducted by phone or video streaming.