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Embattled Singer, R. Kelly Placed on Suicide Watch After Being Sentenced to 30 years in Prison


Embattled Singer, R. Kelly Placed on Suicide Watch After Being Sentenced to 30 years in Prison

R. Kelly’s lawyer claimed Friday that he has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention center in New York where he is being kept after being sentenced to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges this week.

But the disgraced R&B singer is not suicidal, according to Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean, who added that Kelly was afraid of being placed on suicide watch.

The irony of putting someone on suicide watch when they’re not suicidal is it actually causes more harm,” Bonjean said.

Kelly’s attorneys later filed a lawsuit and moved for a temporary restraining order. The complaint names the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) of Brooklyn and its leading officials as well as the United States government as defendants.

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According to the lawsuit, attorneys for Kelly called the detention center following his sentencing to learn of his status and employees repeatedly hung up on them, “laughed and were highly unprofessional.” CNN has reached out to the US Bureau of Prisons and has attempted to reach the MDC Warden for comment.

Bonjean previously stated that she was informed by prosecutors who spoke with prison officials. Kelly, 55, was placed on suicide watch because he is a celebrity.

“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.”

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“MDC-Brooklyn has a policy of punishing high profile inmates by placing them under the harsh conditions of suicide watch even though they are not suicidal,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bonjean is also seeking a temporary restraining order to remove Kelly from confinement.

Bonjean said she had asked Kelly to email her after he was taken back into the federal facility following his sentencing Wednesday but never got an email from him. She hasn’t gotten answers about his status from the detention center until prosecutors requested information from the facility, Bonjean added.

A jury convicted Kelly last 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.”

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The five-week federal trial in Brooklyn featured testimony from individuals who claimed Kelly mistreated them sexually and physically. The court also heard from those who were involved in the notorious R&B artist’s 1994 marriage to late singer Aaliyah when she was only 15 and he was an adult after she thought she’d gotten pregnant.

Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Kelly to more than 25 years in prison, while his defense team requested 10 years or less.

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