R Kelly taken off suicide watch in US jail following 30-year sentence

Kelly is due to return to court on August 15 to stand trial on charges related to possession of child pornography and obstruction of justice.

Published Last updated

R Kelly has been removed from suicide watch in prison, after the singer previously claimed the protective treatment was a form of punishment.

Grammy-winning R&B star R. Kelly leaves the Cook County courthouse after a hearing on multiple counts of criminal sexual abuse case, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 22, 2019
Grammy-winning R&B star R. Kelly leaves the Cook County courthouse after a hearing on multiple counts of criminal sexual abuse case, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. March 22, 2019

The former 90s R&B star was sentenced to 30 years behind bars last week in New York on charges of racketeering and sex-trafficking.

Kelly's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean confirmed the multiplatinum singer is no longer on suicide watch, but said he plans to press ahead with his lawsuit over being placed there. She has said that Kelly is not suicidal.

Kelly, 55, is suing the Metropolitan Detention Center, saying jail officials there ordered the watch immediately after his June 29 sentencing "solely for punitive purposes" and because he was a "high-profile" inmate.

Kelly's lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail's legal counsel had told her that "per the psychology department, [Kelly] is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing." No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn't satisfied with the explanation. "Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag," she wrote.

Singer Robert Kelly, known as R. Kelly, is pictured in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., in this March 6, 2019 handout booking photo.
Singer Robert Kelly, known as R. Kelly, is pictured in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., in this March 6, 2019 handout booking photo.

Kelly said the "harsh conditions" he faced led to "severe mental distress," and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

Prosecutors initially said the measure was needed for Kelly’s “own safety” following a psychological examination.

But in new filings, attorneys on behalf of the US government said the measures were no longer required.

“Following a clinical assessment, plaintiff Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as ‘R. Kelly,’ was removed from suicide watch as of this morning, July 5, 2022,” the filings stated.

“Because plaintiff has already been removed from suicide watch, there is nothing more that the court can do for him.”

Kelly is due to return to court on August 15 to stand trial on charges related to possession of child pornography and obstruction of justice.