R Kelly Docuseries Cancelled Under Threat Of Gun Fire: Donnell Russell, manager of disgraced singer R. Kelly, has been charged with phoning a New York workspace and threatening a mass shooting unless they cancelled a screening of Surviving R. Kelly.
The docuseries features interviews with girls and women who claim to have been victims of Kelly’s alleged sexual crimes. Multiple people who spoke in the documentary were scheduled to appear at the screening at Manhattan’s NeueHouse.
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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Russell tried multiple times to get the event cancelled, including sending a cease-and-desist order. When these legal measure failed, Russell allegedly turned to threats. He is accused of placing a December 4th, 2018 phone call to NeueHouse suggesting that an armed individual would open fire at the screening.
In the wake of this call, the screening was cancelled. Now, Russell has been charged with threatening physical harm by interstate communication and conspiracy to do the same. The counts carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In a statement, acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said,
“Threats of gun violence aimed at intimidating and silencing victims of sexual abuse are unlawful as well as unacceptable. We are committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting such crimes.”
This isn’t the first time Russell has run afoul of the law on behalf of his employer. Earlier this week, he was one of three R. Kelly associates charged with intimidating and bribing victims.
Among other harassing behaviors, prosecutors say Russell threatened to leak nude photographs of a woman suing Kelly. He is one of the main reasons law officials are worried R Kelly’s jury could be subject to blackmail and other threats.
R. Kelly’s Chicago trial, originally scheduled for this April, was postponed until October after feds seized over 100 cell phones, and hard drives. The singer was subsequently charged with additional federal sex crimes, including giving herpes to minors. A judge has denied his request for a prison release amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Alleged Bribery And Intimidation
Three men connected to R. Kelly have been arrested and charged with trying to harass, threaten and bribe alleged victims in the singers’ racketeering case. That’s according to documents unsealed this week. The complaints listed the defendants as Richard Arline Junior, who is “a self-proclaimed longtime friend” of R. Kelly’s.
Prosecutors say he was recorded offering one of the alleged victims compensation; including a $500,000 payment. Donnell Russell is a “self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly.” They say he “threatened to reveal sexually-explicit photographs” of an alleged victim if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly.
And, the third defendant is Michael Williams, who is related to a former publicist for Kelly. According to a release, Williams set fire to an SUV outside a home where an alleged victim was staying. An attorney for R. Kelly said his client “had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged.”
Kelly is facing charges in New York. He also faces federal charges of child pornography and other crimes by the U.S. Northern District of Illinois; where he is being held without bail. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and is awaiting trial.