NEW YORK — Beleaguered R&B singer R. Kelly was denied bail Wednesday in his New York City sex-abuse case after a judge agreed with prosecutors that freeing him from jail would create a risk of him fleeing or tampering with witnesses.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly denied a defense motion asking to release him on bond and allow home detention. She set a May 18 trial date.


R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Sept. 17. A federal judge in New York City has denied bail to the R&B singer in his sex abuse case because it was feared he would flee or tamper with witnesses. Antonio Perez/via AP Pool

Kelly, 52, didn’t attend the hearing in federal court in Brooklyn. He remains behind bars in Chicago awaiting a trial on related charges that’s scheduled for April 27.

Kelly, whose full name is Robert Kelly, pleaded not guilty in August to the New York charges accusing him of using his fame to recruit young women and girls for illegal sexual activity. The defense has labeled the accusers disgruntled groupies.

In court papers filed Monday, Kelly’s attorneys claimed he’s so broke he couldn’t afford to flee. The papers also complained he’s only able to receive visits in jail from one of two previous live-in girlfriends at a time.

“No other friends or professional colleagues are allowed to visit,” the papers said. “That is not right.”

The government responded in a memo by calling Kelly’s claims of poverty misleading. It said he “continues to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in connection with the royalties he is owed for his music.”

The memo also said that prosecutors have evidence that Kelly last year threatened to “release compromising and potentially embarrassing photographs” of an unnamed victim unless she dropped a lawsuit against him.

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