R. Kelly manager charged with threatening shooting against New York theater

·2 min read
Several associates of R. Kelly, the singer shown here outside a Chicago court building in May 2019, have been charged in recent days with using indimidation tactics to silence accusers

Federal authorities have charged R. Kelly's manager with allegedly threatening a shooting at a Manhattan theater, by which he aimed to halt a docuseries screening about sex crime allegations against the disgraced singer.

The charges announced Friday come just days after the self-described manager and friend of Kelly, Donnell Russell, was among three associates charged with allegedly harassing and intimidating women making accusations against the musician.

New court filings say he threatened a shooting at the theater in Manhattan to prevent a December 2018 screening of the docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," according to court documents.

His call led to an evacuation of the theater, which ultimately did not screen the series exploring accusations that the singer known for hits like "I Believe I Can Fly" engaged in decades of abusive sexual relationships with women and minor girls.

"The violence Mr. Russell allegedly threatened succeeded in shutting down one airing of the documentary, but he was unable to silence the women featured in the film," said FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney in a statement.  

Earlier this week prosecutors accused Russell of threatening to release sexually explicit photos of a woman in a bid to bully her into withdrawing her claims against Kelly, prosecutors said.

The new filing sees Russell, 45, charged with one count of conspiracy to threaten physical harm by interstate communication and one count of threatening physical harm by interstate communication. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. 

He is expected to make an initial appearance before a US judge in New York later Friday.

For more than a year the artist born Robert Sylvester Kelly has been incarcerated and awaiting trial in several states for alleged wrongdoings including sex crimes against minors and child pornography.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which range across the states of Illinois, Minnesota and New York.

The artist is set for trial first in New York, where the case against him includes racketeering accusations that he systematically recruited girls for sex while touring, later coercing them into sexual activity.

Jury selection for those proceedings are currently set to begin September 29, but restrictions preventing in-person trials due to the coronavirus pandemic will likely see that date postponed.


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