Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Prosecutors charge 3 with threatening women in R Kelly case

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2020 | 3:51 PM
In this June 26, 2019 file photo, R&B singer R Kelly (centre) arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court building for an arraignment on sex-related felonies in Chicago. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer R Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.

A longtime friend of the indicted singer offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly’s prosecution, authorities said, while a manager and adviser of Kelly threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly.

A Kelly defence attorney said he had “no involvement whatsoever” in any attempt to silence witnesses.

“He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so,” attorney Steve Greenberg said on Twitter.

The Grammy-award winning musician has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York.

The charges range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls.

Kelly also is accused of having unprotected sex with a minor in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.

Prosecutors described a third man accused of intimidating witnesses as being related to a former Kelly publicist.

They said Michael Williams, 37, of Valdosta, Georgia, travelled to Florida in June and set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence where one of Kelly’s victims was staying.

Williams also conducted Internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertiliser and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States,” authorities said in a news release.

A message was sent to Williams’ attorney seeking comment.

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