Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly was reportedly placed on suicide watch on Friday in a New York federal detention facility — despite claims from attorney Jennifer Bonjean that he is not actually suicidal.
Within one day of his sentencing, however, Kelly had reportedly been placed on suicide watch — primarily because of his fame.
R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention facility in New York where he is being held after he was sentenced this week to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges, his lawyer said Friday. https://t.co/LuqOOokShm
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 1, 2022
Bonjean told CNN that she did not believe that Kelly was suicidal and she thought that had actually been afraid 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,” she said, explaining that prison officials had told prosecutors that they were placing the performer on suicide watch because he was so well known.
“It’s punishment for being high-profile. And it’s horrifying frankly. To put someone under suicide watch under those conditions is cruel and unusual when they don’t need it,” Bonjean added, noting also that she had asked her client to email her from the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn once he returned from his sentencing hearing but he had failed to do so.
Kelly’s conviction came after a five-week trial that heard testimony from dozens of witnesses — some of whom said that they had been sexually physically abused by the singer and some who testified that they had assisted in arranging his 1994 marriage to the late singer Aaliyah, who was just 15 years old at the time. Kelly was 12 years her senior.
Kelly’s attorneys brought forth a number of associates who testified that they had never seen him abuse anyone. The singer himself never took the stand.
Kelly is set to face a second federal trial in Chicago this August, on charges including luring children to perform sex acts and producing child pornography. He was previously tried over a decade ago — on multiple child pornography charges in Illinois in 2008 — but he was acquitted.
He is also facing a number of state charges in Illinois as well as accusations of prostitution with a minor in Minnesota.
Prior to sentencing in his New York federal trial, Kelly’s attorneys asked for a sentence of less than 10 years. The prosecution recommended no less than 25 years.