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R. Kelly's Lawyers Granted Extension To File Appeal After His COVID -19 Diagnosis

Jennifer Bonjean, who filed a successful appeal for Bill Cosby, has been granted extra time to file an appeal for R. Kelly, who has contracted COVID-19.

By Gina Tron
R. Kelly Abuse Survivors React To His Guilty Verdict

Disgraced musician R. Kelly has contracted COVID-19 in jail and his high-profile lawyer has won him more time to appeal his sex trafficking conviction.

“We filed a letter motion seeking an additional 2 weeks to file Mr. Kelly's post-trial motions. It is imperative that Mr. Kelly be afforded meaningful opportunity to consult with his counsel which has been hampered by the MDC's visitation policies,” Jennifer Bonjean, a defense attorney for Kelly, tweeted on Tuesday. “The motion was granted.”

MDC is a detention center in Brooklyn and Bonjean is Kelly’s sole remaining attorney; he hired her in October after firing most of his legal team, Billboard reported. Bonjean is credited for getting Bill Cosby out of prison last year after successfully appealing his 2018 sex assault conviction. More recently, she was featured in the news after a judge made allegedly sexist remarks about her.

The extension was granted after it pointed to limited jail visits as partial reason for the request.

“First, the MDC [Metropolitan Detention Center] indefinitely suspended all jail visits nearly a month ago, preventing undersigned counsel from meeting with Mr. Kelly to review the proposed pleadings,” she wrote.

Kelly's subsequent COVID-19 diagnosis has apparently complicated his communication even further. 

“To complicate matters, Mr. Kelly was advised that he contracted COVID, which interfered with his ability to speak with counsel by telephone," the letter states. "Undersigned counsel has arranged several Zoom meetings with Mr. Kelly over the next two weeks, but the first meeting could not be confirmed until February 3, 2022.”

On Twitter, Bonjean said that Kelly, 55, is doing okay physically.

“Understandably, many people are concerned about Mr. Kelly's health and well-being (as am I,)” the lawyer specified. “Mr. Kelly is doing well, but there is no question that MDC's COVID policies are putting all inmates in harm's way.”

She tweeted that she looks forward to sharing post-trial motions on Feb. 17.

Tuesday’s motion also states that trial attorneys Devereaux Cannick, Calvin Scholar, Nicole Blank Becker and Thomas A. Farinella are all exiting their representation with the “Ignition” singer.

Kelly was found guilty by a federal jury in Brooklyn on Sept. 27 for sexual exploitation of a child, bribery, kidnapping, racketeering and sex trafficking. Throughout Kelly’s trial, prosecutors argued that Kelly sexually abused numerous young women and men, some of whom were underage, over a nearly two-decade period. Furthermore, they said he led an enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who recruited the victims for him while giving them false hope that he’d help them with their entertainment careers.

Kelly could face up to life in prison. While his sentencing was scheduled for May 4, it’s unclear if the appeal request or this extension of time to file it will change that.

The singer also faces separate sex crimes trials in Illinois and Minnesota, and has pleaded not guilty in those cases. Kelly was previously accused of child pornography in Chicago in 2002; he was ultimately acquitted in 2008. 

Bonjean did not immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.