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R. Kelly is suing the New York prison he's in for placing him on suicide watch, his lawyers have confirmed.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the disgraced R&B singer had been put on suicide watch at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) Brooklyn after being sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The sentencing arrived after a six-week trial in September, which ruled the 55-year-old – full name Robert Sylvester Kelly – guilty of nine sex crimes including racketeering and sex trafficking.
Kelly was similarly placed on suicide watch following the guilty verdict, and attorney Jennifer Bonjean has since spoken out against the cautionary measure, saying it's being used as 'punishment for being high-profile'.
Speaking to CNN, she said: "The irony of putting someone on suicide watch when they're not suicidal is it actually causes more harm."
Kelly's attorneys have since filed a lawsuit at the Brooklyn federal court and requested a temporary restraining order, with documents naming the Brooklyn detention centre and its warden Heriberto Tellez, according to Pitchfork.
The lawsuit claims that his legal team phoned into the facility after his sentencing and that staff 'laughed and were highly unprofessional'.
It also alleges: "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."
This evening we sued the MDC Brooklyn for illegally confining R. Kelly to suicide watch. pic.twitter.com/kY4X2h09Qp— Jennifer Bonjean (@jenniferbonjean) July 1, 2022
Bonjean spoke about the matter on Twitter, writing: "R. Kelly is not suicidal. He was in fine spirits after his sentencing hearing and ready to fight his appeal.
"Placing him on suicide watch was punitive conduct by the @BureauOfPrisons."
In previous claims about the centre, she told NBC News: "MDC Brooklyn is being run like a gulag.
"My partner and I spoke with Mr. Kelly following his sentencing, he expressed that he was mentally fine, was behaving appropriately and was eager to pursue his appeal."
LADbible has contacted MDC Brooklyn for further comment.
During Kelly's September trial, several of his accusers testified in detail, alleging that he subjected them to perverse and sadistic behaviours when they were underage.
Alongside the testimonies, jurors were shown homemade videos of Kelly engaging in sexual acts that prosecutors said were not consensual.
Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said in court that the singer was a serial abuser who ‘maintained control over these victims using every trick in the predator handbook’.
“R. Kelly is a predator … Today the sentence shows the witnesses reclaimed their lives and their future,” says Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney. “This is a victory for them, justice and for future survivors of sexual assault.” pic.twitter.com/m1qHGQHBxC— Sierra Gillespie (@sierragillespie) June 29, 2022
Although his legal team requested that Kelly be given a lighter sentence of 10 years due to trauma he suffered in his childhood, Judge Ann Donnelly said 'the public has to be protected from behaviours like this' during his sentencing hearing last week.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123
For those looking to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111