R Kelly placed on suicide watch after being sentenced for sex trafficking, lawyer says

The disgraced R&B singer’s legal team says he’s not suicidal, but was put on watch for ‘punitive reasons’

R Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison
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R Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention facility in Brooklyn where he is being held following his sentencing to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges.

However, his attorney believes the disgraced R&B singer is not suicidal and was fearful of being put on suicide watch.

“The irony of putting someone on suicide watch when they’re not suicidal is it actually causes more harm,” Jennifer Bonjean told CNN, adding that prosecutors who had spoken with officials at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Centre had told her the move had been made because Kelly is well known.

“Mr Kelly was placed on suicide watch for purely punitive reasons in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights,” she told Fox News Digital. “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.”

Ms Bonjean added that she had spoken with Kelly following the sentencing and he shared that he was mentally fine, but concerned that authorities would put him on suicide watch as they had after the guilty verdict.

“We are in the process of filing an emergency rule to show cause with the courts,” his lawyers said.

“MDC Brooklyn’s confinement of Mr Kelly to suicide watch is illegal, and they will be held accountable for it.”

The singer was convicted in 2021 of all nine counts against him, including racketeering and eight violations of the Mann Act, an anti-sex trafficking law which prohibits the interstate transportation of women and girls for “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offence”. Prosecutors initially sought a 25-year sentence. Kelly’s defence argued that he should be subjected to no more than 10 years in prison, arguing that anything longer was “tantamount to a death sentence” for the 55-year-old.

US district judge Ann Donnelly handed down the sentence after seven of the disgraced singer’s victims gave impact statements recalling their abuse at his hands.

“You made me do things that broke my spirit. I literally wished I would die because of how low you made me feel,” one of the victims told him.

The judge said during the sentencing that “the public has to be protected from behaviours like this”.

“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.”

She went on to say that she would have handed down this sentence regardless of the sentencing guidelines.

Kelly first faced accusations that he was having sex with minors in the 1990s. He married the singer Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15-years-old, allegedly in order to ensure she could not be compelled to testify against him in court.

In 2002, he was charged for allegedly posessing child sexual abuse images, but was ultimately acquitted in 2008.

A new wave of charges against Kelly began after the #MeToo movement picked up steam and successfully sent powerful abusers to prison.

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