Three men have been charged by federal prosecutors in the US following accusations that they threatened and intimidated women who have accused R. Kelly of abuse.
In a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York yesterday (August 12), the defendants were named as Richard Arline, Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams.
The three have been charged with “crimes relating to their efforts to harass, intimidate, threaten or corruptly influence individuals named as alleged victims” in the racketeering case against Kelly that is currently pending in the Eastern District of New York.
Kelly has denied ever abusing anyone, and pleaded not guilty in August 2019 to charges of sexually exploiting underage girls and coercing them into illegal sexual activity. His trial is scheduled to begin on September 29.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office described Arline, Jr. as “a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly”, and he is accused of bribing one of Kelly’s alleged victims by allegedly offering the woman $500,000 “to keep her from cooperating with the government”.
Russell is “a self-described manager, adviser and friend of Kelly”, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He allegedly “threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe, [an alleged victim in the Kelly case], and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly and ‘cease her participation and association with the organisers’ of a ‘negative campaign’ against Kelly.’”
Williams, who is said to be “a relative of an individual who once served as a publicist for Kelly”, is accused of “set[ting] fire to an SUV parked outside a residence in Florida where an alleged victim in the Kelly case and others were staying.”
Speaking about the charges against the three men, Seth D. DuCharme, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said: “The defendants are separately charged with engaging in multiple crimes that were intended to undermine and subvert the integrity of the criminal justice system and victimise the women who have come forward with serious allegations of criminal conduct against the defendant R. Kelly.
“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.”
Back in May, Kelly pleaded not guilty to a series of sex-trafficking charges in New York.