The news is just not getting better for R. Kelly as he awaits his trial. Three people associated with the singer have been arrested on Wednesday for their involvement in a harassment scheme designed to intimidate the victims of Kelly’s crimes.
The three people who were taken into custody include Kelly’s former advisor, Richard Arline Jr., as well as Donnell Russell and Michael Williams. The news was announced yesterday by the Department of Justice’s Eastern District of New York which is overseeing the trial.
Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme released the following statement, “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 victimize 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.”
Arline was charged with “attempting to corruptly persuade the testimony of an alleged victim in the Kelly case.” Reportedly he offered one of Kelly’s victims $500,000 to keep quiet while the singer was in custody.
Russell was charged with “using the mail, the internet and cellular telephones to attempt to cause emotional distress to another victim. He is also accused of operating a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies” that defended Kelly after the release of the docu-series “Defending R. Kelly”.
Williams, who is a relative of one of Kelly’s publicists, is accused of “using and attempting to use intimidation and threats against an alleged victim in the Kelly case” and “maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and explosive.” The incident involving the vehicle took place on June 11, 2020 outside of the Florida home of one of Kelly’s alleged victims.
Peter Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations can be quoted as saying, “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.”
Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg responded with the following tweet, “We just learned of the charging of several so-called ‘associates’ of R. Kelly. Without question, Robert Kelly had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged. He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever.”
Kelly faces charges that include sexual assault, abuse of a minor, making indecent images of minors, racketeering and obstruction of justice. Both his Brooklyn federal trial and Chicago federal trial have been delayed due to the pandemic but they are expected to begin again later this year.