Prosecutors Charge 3 With Threatening Women In R. Kelly Case

Prosecutors Charge 3 With Threatening Women In R. Kelly Case

Federal prosecutors have charged three men with threatening women who are set to testify in R. Kelly’s sexual misconduct case. Photo: In this June 6, 2019, file photo, musician R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building in Chicago. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky, File)

Three men have been charged on allegations of threatening and intimidating women who accused R&B singer R. Kelly of sexual abuse, federal prosecutors said. One of the men is suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.

Richard Arline, Jr., a longtime friend of R. Kelly offered to pay one of the victims $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly’s prosecution, according to authorities. Donnell Russell, a manager and adviser to Kelly, threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly.

A third man connected to a former Kelly publicist has been accused of intimidating witnesses. Michael Williams, 37, of Georgia, traveled to Florida in June and allegedly set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence where one of Kelly’s victims was staying, authorities said.

A Grammy-award winning musician, R. Kelly is facing dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. The indicted artist has been awaiting trial for more than a year. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is scheduled to be tried first in New York, with jury selection beginning on Sept. 29 although the date may be postponed due coronavirus restrictions.

“The charges range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. Kelly also is accused of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes,” WKRON 4 reported

Williams allegedly conducted internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States,” authorities said in a news release.

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“Law enforcement officials have long suspected Mr. Kelly of interfering in criminal investigations,” The New York Times reported. “He was famously acquitted at a 2008 trial in Chicago on child pornography charges after a key witness declined to testify, and federal prosecutors in Chicago charged him last year with a conspiracy to intimidate witnesses and conceal evidence before that trial.”

The criminal complaints against the three men did not include whether or not authorities believe Kelly authorized any of the threats.

Thomas A. Farinella, a lawyer for R. Kelly, said, “R. Kelly had nothing to do with these alleged acts by these people.”