R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he’s being held after the 55-year-old disgraced singer was sentenced to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges earlier this week.
“Mr. Kelly was placed on suicide watch for purely punitive reasons in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights,” his lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, said in a statement to ET. “MDC has a policy of placing high profile individuals under the harsh conditions of suicide watch whether they are suicidal or not (this was done recently with Ghislaine Maxwell). MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag. My partner and I spoke with Mr. Kelly following his sentencing, he expressed that he was mentally fine and ONLY expressed concern that even though he was NOT suicidal, MDC would place him on suicide watch (as they did following the guilty verdict). We are in the process of engaging in the court in this matter as his placement on suicide watch is illegal.”
ET has reached out to prosecutors and prison officials for comment.
On June 29, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in jail, five years of supervised release and a $100,000 fine, nine months after he was found guilty on one count of racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act by a federal jury.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to send Kelly to prison “in excess of 25 years,” while Bonjean asked for the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
“This is the sentence I was expecting for R. Kelly and I think a lot of people were expecting,” legal expert Jesse Weber told ET after Kelly’s sentencing. “When you get convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering, you expect a large prison sentence and this is exactly what we saw here.”
“A stiff prison sentence sends the message to the world, one, that no one is above the law, two, the gravity of these offences can not be taken lightly and I think number three, which is probably the most important, the words of these victims, the words of these survivors really played a factor in this sentencing decision,” he added. “I think this is effectively a life sentence for R. Kelly, he’s going to spend the rest of his time on Earth behind bars.”
Kelly has been jailed without bail since 2019. Outside of New York, Kelly faces multiple charges in Illinois and Minnesota, including aggravated sexual abuse, child pornography, enticement of a minor, obstruction of justice, prostitution and solicitation of a minor. His Chicago trial is scheduled to begin in August.
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