R. Kelly On Suicide Watch And Forced To Pay Legal Team With Fan Donations, Singer’s Crisis Manager Says

R. Kelly seen outside a courtroom.
Nuccio Dinuzzo / Getty Images

R. Kelly is struggling in prison, stuck in solitary confinement where he is unable to read or write, burning through money, and likely on suicide watch, the singer’s crisis manager said this week.

Darrell Johnson, who had been serving as something of a public relationship consultant to the disgraced singer, sat down for an interview with Gayle King on CBS This Morning and revealed that the accused singer is having a very difficult time behind bars where he is facing a slew of felony sexual abuse charges. As The Daily Mail reported, Johnson showed some worry for the singer’s mental health behind bars.

“Nobody wants to be locked down 24 hours, no TV,” he said. “He can’t read and write, so he can’t read a book. It’s almost as if he’s already been, that a jury has convicted him.”

Johnson said that he assumed R. Kelly was on suicide watch. As Complex had reported last week, R. Kelly was being held in solitary confinement as the singer said he feared for his life if in the general population.

It is not just the singer’s mental health that has been suffering, Johnson added. The singer’s finances have taken a major hit, as the crisis manager revealed that he was living off royalties but also relying on a flood of donations he had received from fans early in his legal mess.

The interview itself led to some controversy. Johnson was asked if he would trust his own 20-year-old daughter to be alone with Kelly, to which he initially said no. Johnson later walked back the statement after it stirred controversy, then later in the day told CNN that he had stepped down from his position for “personal reasons.”

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R. Kelly has for decades been accused of sexual misconduct, having previously been charged with producing child pornography for an alleged sex tape he filmed with an underage girl, but he was acquitted of the charges. The singer was still dogged by allegations that he kept women against their will and carried on relationships with underage girls, though he repeatedly denied the charges. His allegations were brought back to the forefront earlier this year with the release of the docu-series Surviving R. Kelly that included interviews with some alleged victims.

R. Kelly now faces 18 counts of sexual exploitation of a child and kidnapping, with charges looming against him in both Illinois and New York. He could face up to life in prison if convicted.