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R. Kelly: Federal prosecutors defend decision to keep the disgraced singer under suicide watch

Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, sued the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, its warden and unnamed employees, along with the United States itself, for placing him under suicide watch supervision, the documents show.

Kelly, 55, alleges he was “placed on suicide watch as a form of punishment even though he was not suicidal,” according to the federal government’s response to his filing.

Attorneys for the prison say Kelly’s claims should be dismissed because he “fails to show a substantial likelihood of success for relief,” court documents show. The prison plans to keep Kelly under suicide watch because he matches the criteria to be put under supervision, according to the court documents.

The government is arguing that Kelly is asking the courts to micromanage custodial decisions that are left up to the discretion of expert prison managers.

Since Kelly returned to prison with his new 30-year sentence, he has seen a doctor from the prison psychology department once a day to determine whether he should remain under suicide watch, the court documents show.

He is allowed to meet with his legal team while under suicide watch, per court documents.

On Friday, Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, told CNN she believed Kelly had been 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,” Bonjean said.

Bonjean earlier said she was told by prosecutors who spoke with prison officials that Kelly was placed on suicide watch because he is well-known.

R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison for federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges

“It’s punishment for being high-profile. And it’s horrifying frankly,” she said. “To put someone under suicide watch under those conditions is cruel and unusual when they don’t need it.”

A jury convicted Kelly in September on nine counts, including one charge of racketeering and eight counts of violations of the Mann Act, a sex trafficking law. Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York accused Kelly of using his status as a celebrity and a “network of people at his disposal to target girls, boys and young women for his own sexual gratification.”
The five-week federal trial in Brooklyn included testimony from witnesses who said they were sexually and physically abused by Kelly. The court also heard from people involved with orchestrating the disgraced R&B singer’s 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah when she was just 15 years old and he was an adult after she believed she’d gotten pregnant.

Kelly is scheduled to stand trial in Illinois in August on federal child pornography and obstruction charges, and will then be transferred to the custody of the Northern District of Illinois, court records show.

CNN’s Susannah Cullinane, Sonia Moghe and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.

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