Three men who prosecutors claim are connected to R. Kelly were charged in federal court for using threats, intimidation and bribes in an attempt to influence the testimony of the singer’s alleged victims, according to the New York Times and CNN. Kelly is in prison awaiting hearings in four jurisdictions on a battery of sexual abuse and misconduct charges, many of which involve women who were minors at the time.
Richard Arline Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams listed as defendants in a press release from the United States Attorney’s office in Brooklyn.
“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,” Seth DuCharme, acting U.S. attorney in the case, said in the release. “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.”
Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s longtime attorney, said the singer “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 has been held without bond at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago since July of last year. The singer has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is awaiting trial; he has made repeated attempts to be released from prison for a variety of health-related reasons, including the coronavirus pandemic.
Arline, who the press release describes as “a self-proclaimed longtime friend” of the singer’s, made various offers to one alleged victim, including a payment of $500,000, according to a wiretapped conversation cited in the release; he was arrested in Chicago on Tuesday. Russell, “a self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly,” “threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs” of another alleged victim if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly; his court appearance is pending. Prosecutors said Williams set fire to a vehicle outside a residence where an alleged victim was staying, the release said. He was arrested in Florida.
In January Kelly was hit with new federal charges in Chicago, alleging that he sexually abused a minor female for four years, beginning in 1997. The superseding indictment alleged the singer sexually abused a girl who was identified as “Minor 6.”