R. Kelly moved to general population, says he is ‘popular’ in recorded jail phone call: Feds

Singer R. Kelly has been moved from solitary confinement to general population in an Illinois federal jail as he awaits trial for multiple crimes, including sex trafficking and sexual assault.

Prosecutors, who announced Kelly’s move on Tuesday, denied the defense’s claims that the singer was in solitary confinement against his will—offering a recorded phone call in which the 52-year-old said he refused to go to general population, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“If I go to population…I’m just up on everybody and everybody’s up on me, and I’m trying to figure out how to trust that or whatever,” Kelly reportedly said in the call from July.

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The Chicago Tribune reported that Kelly was also heard in the call expressing fear about being around the other inmates because he’s “so popular here.” Prosecutors noted that Kelly has had three cellmates while housed at Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), contradicting claims that he had been denied human contact.

In their filing, prosecutors said jail employees have been working on getting Kelly moved to general population since he first made the request on August 19.

“MCC staff did not deny the request, but rather started to review the general population housing options. In fact, MCC staff took steps to ensure a safe transition to general population by initiating a threat assessment to determine if there were any safety or security concerns with housing defendant in general population,” prosecutors said, according to Page Six.

Kelly has been in federal custody since July for 13 criminal counts, including child pornography and obstruction of justice. He also faces five federal counts in New York for racketeering and sex trafficking that crossed state lines.

Defense attorneys said that Kelly was barred access to amenities granted to the other inmates, such as television, candy from the jail’s commissary, outdoor exercise, and daily showers. They went on to describe his living conditions as “cruel and unusual punishment,” according to the Associated Press.

The embattled singer is also facing a total of 21 sex-related criminal charges in Cook County—11 were filed in May and 10 were in February. The state charges reportedly stem from incidents dating as far back as 1998 and involving at least three underage girls.

R. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His federal trial in Illinois was recently scheduled for April 2020.

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[Featured image: R. Kelly/Chicago Police Department]