R Kelly removed from suicide watch days after his lawyers say he was put there ‘as punishment’


R Kelly is removed from suicide watch by Brooklyn prison officials days after his lawyers sued for putting him in isolation ‘as punishment’ and claimed facility is ‘run as a gulag’

  • R. Kelly, 55, was returned to normal incarceration this morning at the Brooklyn prison where he is being held, the US Attorney’s office said in a statement
  • The statement did not address Kelly’s state of mind or make any mention of why he was removed from suicide watch
  • Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, accused the prison of placing the R&B superstar in isolation as a form of punishment last week  
  • Authorities had previously said that Kelly was placed on suicide watch on July 1 ‘for his own safety’
  • On June 29, a judge sentenced Kelly to 30 years behind bars for sex trafficking

R. Kelly was removed from suicide watch after the disgraced R&B superstar’s attorney said he was subjected to the ‘harsh conditions’ of isolation as a form of punishment.

Kelly, 55, was returned to normal incarceration this morning at the Brooklyn prison where he is being held, according to a statement from the United States Attorney Eastern District of New York. 

The statement did not address Kelly’s state of mind or make any mention of why he was removed from suicide watch.

Kelly was placed on watch on July 1 ‘for his own safety,’ according to the US Attorney’s office. His attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, filed a lawsuit requesting he be removed from watch hours later.

‘MDC [Kelly’s prison] has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not. MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag,’ Bonjean wrote in the lawsuit. 

The motion was rejected on July 2, and authorities said Kelly would be ‘clinically assessed’ throughout his watch.

Though intended to preserve the lives of high-risk inmates, suicide watch can be a notoriously punishing experience. Lights are left on throughout the night, guards check in on inmates regularly and frequently, and bedsheets that could be used for hanging oneself are removed from cells. The experience can be so intense that inmates are typically kept there only for short periods of time. 

Last week Kelly was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for sexually abusing young girls. 

R. Kelly was removed from suicide watch after the disgraced R&B superstar's attorney said he was subjected to the 'harsh conditions' of isolation as a form of punishment

R. Kelly was removed from suicide watch after the disgraced R&B superstar’s attorney said he was subjected to the ‘harsh conditions’ of isolation as a form of punishment

Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean (above), filed a lawsuit requesting he be removed from suicide watch hours after he was placed there on July 1. 'MDC [Kelly's prison] has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not,' she wrote

Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean (above), filed a lawsuit requesting he be removed from suicide watch hours after he was placed there on July 1. ‘MDC [Kelly’s prison] has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not,’ she wrote

In the lawsuit filed on Friday, Bonjean claimed that Kelly had been placed on suicide watch at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center ‘solely for punitive purposes and because of his status as a high-profile inmate.’

‘Nothing occurred during sentencing that came as a surprise to Mr. Kelly,’ Bonjean wrote in the suit.

Bonjean argued that the measure was in violation of Kelly’s Eighth Amendment rights as he had no thoughts of harming himself. 

‘R. Kelly is not suicidal. He was in fine spirits after his sentencing hearing and ready to fight this appeal.

‘MDC has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not. MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag,’ Bonjean added.

Kelly is currently being held at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center (above). Bonjean claimed 'MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag'

Kelly is currently being held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (above). Bonjean claimed ‘MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag’

'R. Kelly is not suicidal. He was in fine spirits after his sentencing hearing and ready to fight this appeal,' Kelly's attorney wrote

‘R. Kelly is not suicidal. He was in fine spirits after his sentencing hearing and ready to fight this appeal,’ Kelly’s attorney wrote  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Speight rejected the claims on Saturday, arguing that Kelly's 'current life circumstances undoubtedly bring emotional distress'

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Speight rejected the claims on Saturday, arguing that Kelly’s ‘current life circumstances undoubtedly bring emotional distress’

Assistant US Attorney Melanie Speight rejected those claims on Saturday, arguing that Kelly’s ‘current life circumstances undoubtedly bring emotional distress.’ 

‘He is a convicted sex offender who has been sentenced to spend the next three decades in prison,’ Speight wrote in a court filing.

‘In the immediate future, he faces another federal criminal trial in Chicago for charges related to child pornography.’

The US Bureau of Prisons has been under heightened scrutiny since financier Jeffrey Epstein killed himself behind bars in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused girls as young as 14 and young women in New York and Florida in the early 2000s.

Kelly showed no reaction upon hearing his sentence last week, which also included a $100,000 fine.

The Grammy-winning, multi platinum-selling songwriter was found guilty last year of racketeering and sex trafficking. 

He has denied wrongdoing, and plans to appeal his conviction.

On June 29, Judge Ann M. Donnelly handed down Kelly’s 30-year sentence in Brooklyn Federal Court. 

Kelly was convicted of sex-trafficking and racketeering charges last September following a six-week trial that amplified the accusations. 

The ‘I Believe I Can Fly Singer’ allegedly committed the heinous acts for decades before he was convicted. 

Kelly declined to speak at his sentences after the court heard accusations from angered victims about how the singer preyed on them. 

Kelly, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, has been detained at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn since his trial. It has not been revealed where Kelly would spend his sentence. 

Kelly's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean,  said he was in 'fine spirits' and is 'ready to fight his appeal.' She called the placement of the singer on suicide watch as 'punitive conduct' by the prison

Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean,  said he was in ‘fine spirits’ and is ‘ready to fight his appeal.’ She called the placement of the singer on suicide watch as ‘punitive conduct’ by the prison

Bonjean shared a screenshot of the filed lawsuit on Twitter while claiming that the R&B singer was fine

Bonjean shared a screenshot of the filed lawsuit on Twitter while claiming that the R&B singer was fine

Donnelly told Kelly he created ‘a trail of broken lives,’ adding that ‘the most seasoned investigators will not forget the horrors your victims endured.’

‘These crimes were calculated and carefully planned and regularly executed for almost 25 years,’ she said. ‘You taught them that love is enslavement and violence.’

Kelly learned of his fate after his accusers told the court, through tears and anger, that he had preyed on them and misled his fans.

Lizzette Martinez, one of the victims who spoke earlier at the hearing last week, said she doesn’t think Kelly’s sentence is enough ‘but [was] pleased with it.’

Martinez, who described herself to the reporters as an ‘up-and-coming singer, a girl full of life’ before she met R Kelly and became ‘a sex slave.’ 

Attorney Jennifer Bonjean comforts R Kelly at his sentencing hearing for federal sex trafficking at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn on June 29

Attorney Jennifer Bonjean comforts R Kelly at his sentencing hearing for federal sex trafficking at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn on June 29

Lizzette Martinez, one of the victims who spoke at the sentencing, said she was a ‘girl full of life’ before she met R Kelly and became ‘a sex slave.’ She added that she doesn’t think Kelly’s 30-year sentence is enough ‘but I’m pleased with it’ 

The sentence caps a slow-motion fall for Kelly, who was adored by legions of fans and sold millions of albums even after allegations about his abuse of young girls began circulating publicly in the 1990s.

Prosecutors: R Kelly is on suicide watch ‘for his own safety’

June 29: R Kelly is sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking young girls.

Kelly is transferred to  Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. 

July 1: Kelly is placed on suicide watch. 

His attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, files a lawsuit alleging prison officials placed Kelly on suicide watch ‘solely for punitive purposes and because of his status as a high-profile inmate.’

July 2:  Federal authorities claim Kelly was placed on suicide watch for his own safety. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Speight writes in a court filing: ‘He is a convicted sex offender who has been sentenced to spend the next three decades in prison.’

July 5: Kelly is released from suicide watch in the morning, and the US Attorney’s office makes no comment about his state of mind 

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Widespread outrage over Kelly’s sexual misconduct didn’t come until the #MeToo reckoning, reaching a crescendo after the release of the docuseries ‘Surviving R. Kelly.’

Kelly’s lawyers had argued he should get no more than 10 years in prison because he had a traumatic childhood ‘involving severe, prolonged childhood sexual abuse, poverty, and violence.’

As an adult with ‘literacy deficiencies,’ the star was ‘repeatedly defrauded and financially abused, often by the people he paid to protect him,’ his lawyers said.

He was sued in 1997 by a woman who alleged sexual battery and sexual harassment while she was a minor, and he later faced criminal child pornography charges related to a different girl in Chicago. A jury there acquitted him in 2008, and he settled the lawsuit.

But last year, the jury convicted Kelly after hearing about how he used his entourage of managers and aides to meet girls and keep them obedient, an operation prosecutors said amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Several accusers testified that Kelly subjected them to perverse and sadistic whims when they were underage.

The accusers alleged they were ordered to sign nondisclosure forms and were subjected to threats and punishments such as violent spankings if they broke what one referred to as ‘Rob’s rules.’

Some said they believed videotapes he shot of them having sex would be used against them if they exposed what was happening.

According to testimony, Kelly gave several accusers herpes without disclosing he had an STD, coerced a teenage boy to join him for sex with a naked girl who emerged from underneath a boxing ring in his garage, and shot a shaming video of one victim showing her smearing feces on her face as punishment for breaking his rules.

Evidence also was presented about a fraudulent marriage scheme hatched to protect Kelly after he feared he had impregnated R&B phenom Aaliyah in 1994 when she was just 15. 

Witnesses said they were married in matching jogging suits using a license falsely listing her age as 18; he was 27 at the time.

Aaliyah worked with Kelly, who wrote and produced her 1994 debut album, ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.’ She died in a plane crash in 2001 at age 22. 

The abuse continued for years while Kelly continued to sell millions of albums.   

What was R Kelly found guilty of at his trial?

R Kelly stood trial Brooklyn federal court last year after he was accused of being the ringleader of a sex ring involving women and underage girls and boys.

The charges were first brought in a five-count superseding indictment in Brooklyn federal court in July 2019.

In March 2020, he was slapped with additional charges upgrading the case to a nine-count indictment.

The charges relate to allegations involving six alleged victims – five women named as Jane Does in the indictment and the singer Aaliyah. These charges are:

ONE COUNT OF RACKETEERING – GUILTY

The racketeering charge includes 14 underlying acts including: one act of bribery, three acts of sexual exploitation of a child, one act of kidnapping, three acts of forced labor and six acts of violating the Mann Act.

Racketeering charges are used where there is an ‘enterprise’, mob or mafia running organized crime operations.

In this case, Kelly is accused of running a racketeering ‘enterprise’ for two decades made up of his ‘inner circle’ of managers, bodyguards and other employees who would help him recruit women, girls and boys for him to sexually exploit and traffic them around the US.

To convict Kelly on the racketeering charge, jurors had to find him guilty of at least two of the 14 acts.

EIGHT COUNTS OF VIOLATING THE MANN ACT – GUILTY

The Mann Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to traffic people across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.

Four of these charges relate to an incident involving Jane Doe #5 in 2015 while the other four involve Jane Doe #6 in separate incidents in May 2017 and February 2018.

Three of these charges involve Kelly allegedly exposing the two women to herpes without informing them.

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