After weeks of griping about the circumstances of his incarceration, disgraced R & B singer R. Kelly has been moved to the general population of the federal jail in Chicago while he awaits trial on sexual abuse-related charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.
But prosecutors fought back against claims from Kelly’s legal team that Kelly had been held in solitary confinement against his will, writing in a motion that the embattled superstar was recorded on a jailhouse telephone call in July saying he’d refused to go into general population when it was offered.
“If I go to population … I’m just up on everybody and everybody’s up on me, and I’m trying to figure out how to trust that or whatever,” Kelly was quoted as saying in the July 19 call, eight days after his arrest.
Later in the same call, Kelly said he’d decided to stay put because he wasn’t sure he’d be safe among the jail’s regular detainees, according to the filing.
“You know, and that’s why, I was like, hmmm, too many people up on you and I done seen too many movies, you know, and it’s just, and then I’m so popular here, it’s like yeah man,” Kelly allegedly said.
Prosecutors said Kelly has had three different cellmates in his time at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, despite his lawyers’ claims that he’s been deprived of virtually all human contact.
They also said Kelly has had access to an indoor recreation area three times a week and has purchased items from the commissary, “including snacks such as Snickers.”
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber is scheduled to take up the issue during a hearing Wednesday.
Reached by telephone, Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, said Tuesday that the move was the result of “ongoing” discussions about easing the restrictions of Kelly’s confinement.
“We filed a motion with the court, and the jail took the appropriate action and moved him,” Greenberg said.
Kelly, 52, has been held without bond at the MCC since July 11, when federal agents arrested him on sexual misconduct charges while he was walking his dog outside his home in the Trump Tower.
His lawyers alleged that the draconian conditions in the Loop high-rise jail’s Special Housing Unit have unfairly punished Kelly even though he has not been convicted of any of the allegations against him.
It has also seriously hampered his ability to prepare for trial, with his legal team forced to meet with Kelly — who is kept in handcuffs — in a cramped room with no table, just a small shelf with “not enough space to put a piece of paper and have it lie flat,” Kelly’s attorneys said in a recent motion.
Last week, prosecutors revealed that soon after his arrest, Kelly was written up by jail personnel for refusing to take a cellmate.
“I was told I didn’t have to take a cellie and I have too much going on to worry about incident report,” Kelly allegedly told jail investigators, who wrote in their report that he had a “poor attitude throughout this investigation.”
Kelly was accused in a 13-count federal indictment brought in Chicago of conspiring with two former employees to rig Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.
The indictment also alleged Kelly, former manager Derrel McDavid and onetime employee Milton “June” Brown paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover child sex tapes before they fell into the hands of prosecutors.
A separate federal indictment brought against Kelly in New York accused the singer of racketeering conspiracy, alleging Kelly identified underage girls attending his concerts and groomed them for later sexual abuse.
Kelly is also charged in four separate indictments in Cook County alleging he sexually assaulted one woman and sexually abused three minor girls.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges.