As R. Kelly awaits trial, New York prosecutors have arrested three men scheming to harass, threaten, intimidate and bribe the singer’s alleged victims.
Three separate criminal complaints were unsealed Wednesday (Aug. 12) by the U.S. attorney general’s office for the Eastern District of New York detailing charges against Richard Arline, Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams. Each of the men are charged with attempting to threaten or influence the Jane Doe witnesses in the case against Kelly.
Arline, 31, was charged with engaging in misleading conduct with one woman with the intent of influencing, delaying and preventing her testimony in the case. Arline, an allegedly self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly’s, is accused of contacting one of Kelly’s alleged victims and discussing a $500,000 payment to keep her from cooperating with the government investigation.
In a separate complaint, the government charged Russell, 45, a reportedly self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly’s, of threatening to release sexually explicit photographs of another alleged victim and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not “cease her participation and association with the organizers” of a “negative campaign” against Kelly. He also is accused of sending a letter to her attorney purported to be from Kelly with cropped nude pictures of named only as Jane Doe, including the caption, “The next two pictures have been cropped for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!” Russell also is accused of sending the same photographs to the victim’s mother with the text, “You’ve been warned.” He is charged with using the mail, internet and cell phones to try to cause emotional distress to the Jane Doe and her mother.
Williams, 37, a relative of Kelly’s former publicist, is accused of setting fire to an SUV parked outside a residence in Florida where one alleged victim was staying on June 11, 2020. The vehicle, leased by the victim’s father, was heavily damaged. Fire investigators also detected an accelerant along the outside perimeter of the residence. Cell site records, surveillance footage, toll records and photographs and Williams’ internet searches for the victim’s address revealed that he had driven from Georgia to the Florida residence, according to prosecutors. Williams was charged with attempting to use intimidation and threats against the alleged Kelly victim to prevent her testimony. Williams is also charged with “maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and explosion.” He was arrested Tuesday morning in Pompano Beach Florida, according to the Department of Justice.
“These crimes shock the conscience. The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid the consequences of his alleged crimes — even if it means re-victimizing his accusers. These acts not only fly in the face of human decency, they insult the very rule of law,” Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in a statement.
Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme added, “Efforts to illegally influence pending federal cases, whether through threats of violence, intimidation, damage to property, or payments to buy a potential witness’s silence, will not be tolerated.”
Kelly is facing charges in New York of racketeering, coercion of a minor, transportation of a minor and coercion to engage in illegal sexual activity. The charges related to six different victims.
The indictment alleges that for over two decades Kelly was the leader of a racketeering enterprise made up of managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners who recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the R&B singer. The sexual activity was often filmed and photographed by Kelly, according to the court filing by the DOJ. He is also awaiting trial in Illinois regarding separate sexual abuse allegations and is currently being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.
R. Kelly’s attorney has not responded to Billboard’s request for comment.