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Feds: Singer R. Kelly remains on suicide watch ‘for his own safety’

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2022 | 4:44 PM
R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on September 17, 2019. Federal authorities are pushing back Saturday, July 2, 2022, on R. Kelly's claims that he was placed on suicide watch as a form of punishment after a judge sentenced him to 30 years behind bars for using his fame to sexually abuse young girls. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities are pushing back on R. Kelly's claims that he was placed on suicide watch as a form of punishment last week after a judge sentenced him to 30 years behind bars for using his fame to sexually abuse young girls.

The United States Attorney's Office in Brooklyn filed court papers late Saturday saying the disgraced R&B superstar remains on suicide watch “for his own safety” following a psychological assessment.

Kelly's “current life circumstances undoubtedly bring emotional distress,” Assistant US Attorney Melanie Speight wrote in a court filing.

“He is a convicted sex offender who has been sentenced to spend the next three decades in prison,” she added.

“In the immediate future, he faces another federal criminal trial in Chicago for charges related to child pornography.”

Kelly's attorney filed a lawsuit Friday alleging prison officials placed him on suicide watch at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center “solely for punitive purposes and because of his status as a high-profile inmate,” adding that Kelly has had no thoughts of harming himself.

“Nothing occurred during sentencing that came as a surprise to Mr Kelly,” attorney Jennifer Bonjean wrote in the lawsuit.

“While the conditions of suicide watch may be appropriate for individuals who are truly at risk of hurting themselves, they are cruel and unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment for individuals who are not suicidal.”

Kelly, 55, didn't give a statement and showed no reaction upon hearing his sentence, which also included a $100,000 fine.

The Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling songwriter was found guilty last year of racketeering and sex trafficking. He has denied wrongdoing, and he plans to appeal his conviction.

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