- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Three men who each claimed to be an associate of R&B singer R. Kelly were charged Wednesday in separate schemes to harass, intimidate and bribe his alleged sexual abuse victims, federal prosecutors said.

Richard Arline Jr., 31, Donnell Russell, 45, and Michael Williams 37, separately tried to influence or intimidate women named as victims in the federal racketeering case against Mr. Kelly, according to a criminal complaint unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.

“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,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge.

“These acts not only fly in the face of human decency, they insult the very rule of law,” he continued.

Mr. Arline, who was described in the criminal complaint as “a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly,” allegedly discussed paying an alleged victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating with the government.

During a recorded call, Mr. Arline allegedly claimed he had spoken with Mr. Kelly while he was behind bars through a three-way call with another person, prosecutors say.

“If I had a way to talk to Rob [Kelly], being next to him and telling him what’s going on, without nobody listening, no feds, nobody, he gonna pay her …. off to be quiet,” he said in the call, adding the victim “got too much.”

Mr. Russell, meanwhile, is accused of threatening to release sexually explicit photos of another victim if she didn’t withdraw her civil suit against Mr. Kelly.

He also planned to reveal the alleged victim’s sexual history and created a Facebook page to post screenshots of text messages between Mr. Kelly and the victim, according to court documents.

Mr. Russell, who describes himself as Mr. Kelly’s manager, also threatened the victim’s mother via text message, prosecutors said. He is expected to appear before a judge in the Eastern District of New York.

Mr. Williams, of Georgia, is charged with setting fire to an SUV parked outside a Florida home where an alleged victim had been staying. Prosecutors say he is a relative of an individual who once served as Mr. Kelly’s publicist.

Prosecutors have not charged Mr. Kelly with any crimes related to these individuals’ alleged actions. However, they have repeatedly raised concerns that Mr. Kelly might try to interfere with the case against him.

Earlier this year, they said a prison staffer circumvented protocols by giving Mr. Kelly access to a telephone to call a third party on a line that was not recorded.

Mr. Kelly faces a slew of federal charges in multiple states. He is currently in federal custody in Chicago while awaiting trial for child pornography and sexual exploitation of children. He has also been charged with two counts of prostitution with a minor in Minnesota.

The racketeering case against Kelly in New York accuses him of sexual exploitation, kidnapping and forced labor.

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