R. Kelly’s alleged acquaintances have been charged with harassing witnesses in his criminal case.
The ‘Ignition’ hitmaker is currently facing charges of alleged racketeering and child pornography in New York City, and on Tuesday (11.08.20), the US Department of Justice announced that three men – Richard Arline, Donnell Russell and Michael Williams – have been arrested and charged for allegedly intimidating witnesses in the case.
According to TMZ, Kelly has denied any involvement in the allegations.
His attorney, Steven Greenberg, told the publication: "Without question, Robert Kelly had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged. He has not attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever."
Prosecutors allege Richard Arline – who is a self-proclaimed friend of Kelly – offered $500k to an alleged victim in exchange for her to not cooperate with prosecutors in Kelly’s case.
Donnell Russell – who describes himself as a manager, advisor and friend of Kelly – allegedly threatened to reveal sexually explicit pictures of an alleged victim and publicly reveal her sexual history if she didn’t withdraw her civil suit.
Whilst Michael Williams, who is a relative of someone who once served as Kelly’s publicist, was arrested for allegedly setting fire to an SUV parked outside the Florida residence where an alleged victim was staying back in June.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutors filed legal documents in New York last month to request the jury in Kelly’s case are protected by armed guards and partially sequestered because they are concerned the disgraced singer’s team could pose a threat.
Documents obtained at the time explained officials want the jurors’ identities, addresses and places of employment to be concealed from both prosecutors and the defence, and asked for US Marshals to escort them in and out of the courthouse.
They also want all members of the jury to eat lunch together so they’re not bombarded by intense media coverage.
They argued: "These measures are necessary to safeguard the jurors and the fair administration of process."
The prosecution claimed Kelly and his associates have previously made attempts to obstruct justice, branding the singer "the leader of a racketeering enterprise he created and used for decades to sexually abuse and exploit women and girls for his own sexual gratification, including through the use of bribery, kidnapping and forced labour."
However, the 53-year-old singer’s lawyer insisted some of the proposed measures are "absurd".
Steven Greenberg said: "It’s absurd not to know where people are from or what kind of employment they are engaging in. Those are essential things to understand – how people think and view things.
"Imagine if there’s an FBI agent on the jury or a district attorney or someone who works for a battered woman’s shelter. The stuff about Kelly tampering and being dangerous is just a regurgitation of their same argument which we disagreed with all along."