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Federal judge in Chicago says he won’t hold hearing over R. Kelly’s jailhouse assault

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber rejected the singer’s latest bid to get out of jail while awaiting trial.

R. Kelly walks with attorneys and supporters into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in March 2019.
R. Kelly walks with attorneys and supporters into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in March 2019.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

A federal judge in Chicago rejected Monday the latest bid by R&B singer R. Kelly to get out of jail, this time refusing to hold a hearing over a jailhouse assault of the star allegedly at the hands of a Latin King street gang member.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber called the August attack on Kelly “concerning,” but he wrote that “release from custody is not the appropriate remedy for such a wrong.” The judge also wrote that no other developments warranted a reversal of his earlier detention order.

“Mr. Kelly will go to trial as soon as it is safe and practicable,” Leinenweber wrote. “Until then, he will remain in detention.”

Kelly faces a federal indictment in Chicago alleging child pornography and obstruction of justice. He faces a second indictment in Brooklyn alleging racketeering. A judge in New York would also have to agree to release Kelly before he could go free. The judges presiding in both districts have repeatedly sided against Kelly on the issue.

The singer has been held in Chicago’s downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest by federal authorities in July 2019. Though no trial date is set for Kelly in Chicago or Brooklyn, Leinenweber has said he will pick a date during a hearing set for Dec. 16.

Jeremiah Farmer, 39, has claimed in court records to be the inmate who attacked Kelly, alleging in one filing that the singer let out a “horrifying scream” during the attack. Farmer was convicted last year of a racketeering conspiracy involving two 1999 northwest Indiana murders.

Jeremiah Farmer
Lake County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Department

Kelly attorney Michael Leonard told Leinenweber last month that he wanted to put Farmer on the witness stand to determine whether anyone at the MCC played a role in Kelly’s assault. He pointed to a claim by Farmer that a mental health professional at the jail told him, “You don’t want to assault Kelly, if you did, you would have done it.” Farmer wrote in a court filing he “said some disrespect back” and was told “go do it then.” That’s when he said he stormed out and attacked Kelly despite being told to stop.

In a filing late last week, Leonard wrote that a videotape provided by prosecutors shows that “no one at the MCC raised a finger to stop Mr. Farmer from attacking Mr. Kelly, until after Mr. Farmer was well into beating Mr. Kelly,” and “Mr. Farmer roamed a great distance within the MCC before carrying out that act, without any opposition.”

Federal prosecutors have said in a court filing that “it is unfortunate that Farmer decided to physically assault” Kelly, but “this single, isolated incident does not suggest that the Bureau of Prisons is incapable of safely housing” the singer.

Prison records show Farmer is now being held in a low-security detention facility in Milan, Michigan.