Judge orders R. Kelly held in jail without bond in sex case

Don Babwin
Associated Press

Chicago – A federal judge on Tuesday ordered R. Kelly held in jail without bond after a prosecutor warned that the singer accused of having sex with minors and trying to cover up the crimes would pose an extreme danger to young girls if set free.

Attorney Steve Greenberg departs the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after his client R. Kelly, appeared before U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Chicago. Leinenweber has ordered Kelly held in a Chicago jail without bond on sex-related charges after a prosecutor told him that the singer who through intimidation, threats and paying of hush money to keep what he'd done a secret for two decades would still pose a danger to young girls if he was set free.

“If he was attracted to middle school girls in 1999 then he’s still attracted to middle school girls,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber. “That’s who the defendant is and that, your honor, makes him a danger today.”

Leinenweber said that under federal law Kelly would have to prove that he was not a danger to the public and Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, had failed to do so.

Kelly faces an array of sex-related charges in Chicago and New York. Appearing in court wearing an orange jumpsuit and shacked at the ankles, he said only two words, “Yes, sir,” when the judge asked him if he understood the charges.

The ruling Tuesday means that Kelly, who pleaded not guilty to the charges contained in the Chicago indictment , will remain in custody to face a separate indictment in New York. He is charged there with racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child.

It was unclear when that hearing would be and if he would have to be transported to New York for the hearing, or if he could appear via a video linkup from the federal jail in downtown Chicago.

Azriel Clary, left, and Joycelyn Savage, girlfriends of R&B singer R. Kelly, walk into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse for his hearing, Tuesday afternoon, July 16, 2019.

The decision to deny bond raised the possibility that the 52-year-old Kelly could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said that “each of the federal indictments could take one to two years to go to trial.” Depending on delays in the case, Mariotti said Kelly’s stay in jail just awaiting trial could go on a lot longer than that.

Krull portrayed Kelly as a predator who went to great lengths to find young girls and keep them under his control. She said that the evidence in the federal indictments against him is overwhelming. If convicted, the maximum sentence for the charges contained in the Illinois indictment is 195 years in prison and 80 years for the charges contained in the New York indictment.

Krull said Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 only because he paid off the victim and her family.

“Electronic monitoring can’t stop obstruction of justice, witness tampering…” she said. “He can entice victims to his own home.”

Greenberg said preparing for trial will be an long process made even more difficult because Kelly does not know how to read and therefore someone must visit him in jail to read him the reams of documents the case will generate.

He said Kelly is no longer rich and has filed for bankruptcy.

“How could he flee?” Greenberg asked. “He has no money.”