AceShowbiz - Incarcerated singer R. Kelly is "suffering" mentally amid the constant prison lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The disgraced R&B veteran is awaiting trial on federal sex counts in Illinois, where he is behind bars, and in a separate case in New York, where a Brooklyn judge has just ruled his sex trafficking and racketeering case will begin in early April (21).
However, with Kelly repeatedly being denied bail, and having to spend much of his time locked up in isolation, his mental health has taken a big hit, according to his attorney, Michael I. Leonard.
"In terms of his mental well-being, I think he's suffering under these COVID conditions because they had an enormous outbreak (in prison) previously," Leonard told Billboard.com. "It's not a good environment to be in."
But Kelly is hopeful he will be able to clear his name once he gets his day in court. "It's been long and onerous, but on the other hand I think he is eager to get to trial," Leonard added.
District Judge Ann Donnelly set the trial date in a hearing on Thursday (19Nov20), when she ruled jurors will be selected over the course of 10 days in mid-March.
She previously granted prosecutors' request to keep the jury members anonymous and have them partially sequestered during the trial, throughout which they will be escorted in and out of court by U.S. Marshals to protect them from any potential outside influence, particularly after three of the singer's associates were arrested for alleged witness tampering in August.
Leonard claims the additional precautions are "bizarre" and "inappropriate" for a case like Kelly's, while arguing the extra protective measures prevent the singer and his legal team from properly preparing their defence.
The "I Believe I Can Fly" star has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is accused of grooming underage girls attending his concerts for sexual abuse.
He has repeatedly failed in his attempts to be released on bail, and was denied a hearing regarding a new request in October, two months after suffering a jail cell beating by another prisoner.