R Kelly lawyer jokes singer doesn't like to fly 'unlike his famous song' during bail hearing on child sex charges

Steve Greenberg claims singer not flight risk because he has no money and spends all his time at home in Trump Tower Chicago apartment

Attorney Steve Greenberg, left, walks with singer R Kelly, right, at a previous court hearing in Chicago
Attorney Steve Greenberg, left, walks with singer R Kelly, right, at a previous court hearing in Chicago

R Kelly’s lawyer joked that the singer was not a flight risk “unlike his famous song” while facing trial for sexually abusing underage girls.

Attorney Steve Greenberg referenced hit single “I Believe I Can Fly” while attempting to persuade a federal judge to release Kelly on bail.

“Mr Kelly doesn’t like to fly,” he added during the court hearing. “How could he flee? He has no money”.

Mr Greenberg said the 52-year-old Grammy-winning singer spent all his time in a one bedroom apartment on the 48th floor of the Trump Tower in Chicago.

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber was not swayed by the argument, however, and ordered Kelly to be held in jail without bond after prosecutors argued the singer posed “an extreme danger to the community, especially to minor girls”.

The ruling in Chicago on Tuesday means that the 52-year-old Grammy Award-winning singer will remain in custody to face federal charges of racketeering, kidnapping, forced labour and the sexual exploitation of a child.

Kelly was already facing state charges relating to the sexual abuse of three girls and a woman in Illinois.

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 federal indictment in New York.

Kelly, who was arrested by New York detectives while walking his dog in Chicago last week, appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit and shacked at the ankles. He spoke only to confirm he understood the charges.

It is expected he will be brought to New York to face the new federal charges, although he could appear via a video link from Chicago.

Kelly has strongly denied allegations of sexual abuse for decades. He was arrested in 2002 after a video of the singer with a 14-year-old girl was sent to the Chicago Sun-Times but was found not guilty after a trial in 2008.

Assistant US attorney Angel Krull, arguing against bail, claimed the singer was acquitted in that case only because he paid off the victim and her family.

“Electronic monitoring can’t stop obstruction of justice, witness tampering ...”, Ms Krull added. “He can entice victims to his own home.”

Additional reporting by Reuters and Associated Press

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