The three men — Richard Arline Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams — were arrested and are accused of attempting to harass, intimidate, threaten and bribe women who have come forward against the disgraced R&B singer, according to criminal complaints unsealed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday (August 12).
Arline Jr., “a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly,” attempted to bribe one of Kelly’s alleged victims, allegedly offering her $500,000 to keep her from cooperating with the government.
The second man, Russell, allegedly threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs of another alleged victim and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly and “cease her participation and association with the organizers” of a “negative campaign” against Kelly, according to the District Attorney’s Office. According to court documents, Russell harassed the woman and her mother through mail, text messages, and online from at least November 2018 up until January 2020.
The third man, Williams, was accused of setting fire to one alleged victim’s SUV, that was leased by victims’ father, outside her home in Florida around June 11. Prosecutors stated that cellphone records, surveillance footage, toll records and photographs, and Williams’ internet searches for the victim’s address show that Williams drove from his home in Georgia to the victim’s home in Florida.
“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,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in a statement. “To the victims of these and other crimes: we stand with you. We will meet your bravery with our resolve to keep you safe to tell your story.”
Shortly after the news broke, R. Kelly’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, denied the 52-year-old’s involvement.
“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,” Greenberg tweeted out. “He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever.”
R. Kelly is currently being held at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center without bail as he awaits trial. He is facing several sex crime charges, including child pornography, racketeering, and sex trafficking, across New York, Minnesota and Chicago. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is expected to go to trial on September 29.
(Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)