Entertainment

A Judge Denied R. Kelly Bail After He Pled Not Guilty, Is This The Beginning Of His End?

On the heels of Dream Hampton’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series on Lifetime, which detailed multiple sexual abuse allegations against Robert Kelly, it appears the alleged pedophile may finally face some consequences. Hampton’s six-part docuseries, along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly created a firestorm of renewed public interest in what might be at least three decades of possible abuse from the singer R. Kelly. Since February, Kelly has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, spanning incidents across four states: Illinois, Connecticut, California, and New York. 

However, the Eastern District of New York’s federal case against Kelly is just one of many legal battles the singer is up against as he faces what many feel is an overdue reckoning. 

R. Kelly is “irritated” by bail denial according to his lawyer. 

R. Kelly was denied bail pending his trail during an arraignment hearing at the Eastern District federal court in Brooklyn, New York today. The R&B singer pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, forced labor, and racketeering. U.S. District Magistrate, Judge Steve Tiscone, who was “extremely troubled” by allegations that Kelly intimidated witnesses, ordered him to remain in custody until the trial. 

Prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes argued Kelly should be denied bail. Geddes alleged Kelly paid off witnesses to not appear in court while out on bail during the 2002 child pornography case against him. It should be noted Kelly wasn’t acquitted until six years later — that’s quite a while to be out when charged with such serious crimes. 

The judge agreed with Geddes. Later, Anton told reporters Kelly was “irritated” about the denial. Nevertheless, Kelly will be flown back to Illinois by U.S. Marshals within 48 hours of the hearing. 

Kelly’s alleged victims have waited a long time to see justice. 

The 52-year-old has dodged rumors and allegations of sexual assault since 1997 when Kelly, then 27 years old, was rumored to have married the 15-year-old pop star Aaliyah in secret. Kelly has denied rumors that he married or dated Aaliyah for years. However, in Surviving R. Kelly, Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer of Kelly’s, claims he saw the two together firsthand. 

“On a tour bus, there really aren’t many confined spaces. When you get on the bus there are bunks and so these bunks have little curtains you can pull at night if you don’t want anybody to see you sleeping,” Cunningham recalled

“So it just so happened we were all laying in our bunks and the curtains are open, everybody’s communicating, laughing,” Cunningham continued. “When the [room] door flew open on the bus. Robert was having sex with Aaliyah.”

 In 2002, Kelly was indicted on 21 charges related to child pornography but was acquitted of all charges by a jury in 2008. Gloria Allred, who represents three Jane Does in the Eastern District’s case, said there are reportedly 13 victims in total involved with all of Kelly’s cases.

It appears the tides are turning for R. Kelly after decades of organizing and sounding the alarm largely by black women. 

The “Ignition” singer has multiple cases against him. 

In February, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Illinois charged Kelly with 10 counts of aggravated criminal abuse which alleges that from 1998 to 2010, Kelly filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with minors. In July, federal prosecutors in New York and Chicago indicted Kelly on 18 charges including child exploitation and violating the Mann Act by coercing and transporting women and girls across state lines for illicit sexual activity or sexual assault. 

Not everyone is convinced of R. Kelly’s guilt. 

While many have joined the #MuteRKelly movement, others remain unconvinced of the singer’s guilt. Kelly’s two girlfriends Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage appeared at the arraignment. They weren’t his only supporters — a group of women, one wearing a “Free R. Kelly” t-shirt, appeared in solidarity outside of the courthouse. 

One of the women, 50-year-old Ruthie Castro, told CNN, “I’ve always supported him for many years,” and remains convinced of his innocence.  

Many believe that Kelly uses his fame and falses promises of stardom to attract young, vulnerable girls only to coerce them into joining a cult-like harem. Kelly’s “mind control” techniques were revealed in a BuzzFeed News exposé, which seemed to further fan the flames of public and legal fury in the singer’s direction. 

In an era where we have a racist reality TV star as President of the United States, it is all the more important we remain critical and ever-scrutinizing of any man with a cult-like personality who adorns himself with young, starstruck women. 

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ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

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ICE Just Deported A Key Witness in A Sexual Assault Investigation Against Them

According to the Texas Tribune, the key witness in the ongoing sexual assault investigation at an ICE detention center has been deported. She was previously being held at a Customs Enforcement detention center in El Paso, Texas.

While the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General initially forbid ICE from deporting her, the office apparently reversed their decision on Monday. According to reports, the office determined that “further interviews could be done over the phone”.

via Getty Images

According to previous reports, the unidentified 35-year-old woman alleged that guards had “forcibly kissed” her and touched her on the private parts.

Documents, which were extensively reported on by ProPublica, described the harassment as a “pattern and practice” at this particular detention center.

The woman also alleges that the guards would attempt to extort sexual favors from her and other detainees when they were returning from the medical unit back to her barrack. One guard allegedly told her that he would help get her released “if she behaved”.

The unnamed woman reported the harrasment to her lawyers who then filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. The DHS then opened an investigation into the ICE Detention Center in El Paso.

The FBI has, since then, interviewed the woman extensively. According to documents, the woman gave investigators a tour of the facility where she showed them where the alleged harassment took place–in what were identified as security camera “blind spots”.

According to her, the guard told her that if she reported him, “No one would believe her”.

via Getty Images

Since the woman made these accusations, at least two other women at the same detention center came forward with similar claims. One of these women has already been deported.

According to previous reports, the unnamed woman accusing ICE officials of sexual assault was being held at the El Paso detention center for a drug-related crime and illegally entering the country. She claims she initially fled Mexico after a cartel member sexually assaulted and threatened her.

While ICE says that they have “zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody”, the reality is much bleaker.

According to the advocacy group Freedom for Immigrants, ICE has had 14,700 complaints filed against them between 2010 and 2016 alleging sexual and/or physical abuse.

In the most recent statistics available, ICE reported 374 formal accusations of sexual assault in 2018. Forty-eight of those were substantiated by the agency and 29 were still pending an investigation. According to Freedom for Immigrants, only a fraction of these complaints are investigated by the Office of Inspector General.

The woman’s lawyer, Linda Corchado, has not been shy about expressing her displeasure over her client’s deportation.

“[The government] allowed their most powerful witness to be deported,” Corchado said. “How can we possibly take this investigation seriously now or ever pretend that it ever was from the outset?”

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An ICE Nurse Says That Migrant Women Are Having Hysterectomies Performed Without Their Consent While In Detention Centers

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An ICE Nurse Says That Migrant Women Are Having Hysterectomies Performed Without Their Consent While In Detention Centers

Janis Christie / Getty Images

On Monday, news broke that an ICE detention center in Georgia was performing mass hysterectomies on migrants without their consent. The allegations came from a nurse at the facility along with numerous detained migrants and left many people shocked.

However, the U.S. has a long history of forcing people – especially people of color – into unwanted sterilization, which is a human rights violation and a form of eugenics.

Of course, when it comes to undocumented immigrants, who are regularly referred to as “unwanted” “aliens” by the current president, it’s not so surprising that these practices went unreported for so long. One immigrant in the complaint put it best: “This place is not equipped for humans.”

An ICE nurse and several migrant women allege that a doctor is removing women’s reproductive systems without their consent.

According to the complaint filed Monday by Project South, an Atlanta-based non-profit, a high number of detained immigrant women held at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Ga., are receiving hysterectomies, as well as other “dangerously unhealthy practices” at the prison amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dawn Wooten, who worked full-time at the detention center until July, when she was demoted to work as needed, said she and other nurses questioned among themselves why one unnamed gynecologist outside the facility was performing so many hysterectomies on detainees referred to him for additional medical treatment. She alleged about one doctor that “everybody he sees has a hysterectomy,” and that he removed the wrong ovary from one young detainee.

“We’ve questioned among ourselves like, goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his speciality, he’s the uterus collector,” Ms. Wooten said in the complaint.

One detainee, interviewed by Project South, likened the center to “an experimental concentration camp,” adding: “It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”

“If it wasn’t for my faith in God, I think I would have gone insane and just break down and probably gone as far as hurting myself,” the woman said. “There are a lot of people here who end up in medical trying to kill themselves because of how crazy it is.”

The same prison has also come under fire for its medical practices amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Credit: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Project South said the complaint alleges “jarring accounts from detained immigrants and Wooten regarding the deliberate lack of medical care, unsafe work practices, and absence of adequate protection against Covid-19.”

It summarizes the disclosures Dawn Wooten made to the DHS’s watchdog, and quotes unidentified detainees extensively. Covid-19 complaints included staff refusing to test symptomatic detainees, failing to isolate suspected cases, and not encouraging social-distancing practices.

For their part, ICE says to take the reports with skepticism.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement representative released this statement to Law & Crime News in response to the complaint: “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not comment on matters presented to the Office of the Inspector General, which provides independent oversight and accountability within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ICE takes all allegations seriously and defers to the OIG regarding any potential investigation and/or results. That said, in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve.”

Women in ICE custody have long been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.

Credit: Getty Stock

Immigrant detention centers have long been accused of subpar medical care. However, the issue has become even worse amid the pandemic. The report filed by Project South describes how migrants are forced to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions and even thrown into solitary if they advocate for basic human rights. But even before the outbreak, immigrant women’s bodies have always been the target of medical malpractice and cruelty.

ICE has allegedly denied treatment to detained women with cancer, brain tumors, and breast cysts, and it has a history of policing their bodies. The Trump administration has been accused of tracking migrant girls’ periods to prevent them from getting abortions, introduced a policy to deny pregnant women visitor visas, and literally ripped mothers apart from their babies during family separation. Azadeh Shahshahani, the legal and advocacy director for Project South, said women held at ICDC have said they are not given clean underwear which leads to infections and rashes.

She said detained women, who are mostly Black and brown, are in extremely vulnerable situations in which “they have no control over their bodies.” “It’s a very exploitative situation,” Shahshahani said of the hysterectomies. “There does not seem to be informed consent … they had pretty much no say in what exactly took place.”

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