Artist News Legal

R Kelly associate gets eight years for attempting to intimidate witness

By | Published on Friday 19 November 2021

R Kelly

An associate of R Kelly has been sentenced to eight years in prison, after admitting to setting fire to a car parked outside the home of one of the musician’s victims in an effort to get her to withdraw her testimony.

One of three men arrested on charges relating to attempts to intimidate or bribe witnesses on Kelly’s behalf, Michael Williams pleaded guilty to arson in April this year.

He said in court that he had travelled to the family home of an unnamed woman who had made abuse accusations against Kelly. There, he said, he had “deliberately set a car on fire in someone’s driveway”. One of the people inside the house at the time saw someone fleeing the scene as the rented SUV went up in flames, apparently with their arm on fire.

A search of Williams’ computer also found that he had recently searched for information about fertiliser bombs, news about R Kelly, and the phrase “case law for tampering with a witness”. Police said he also sent threatening text messages to the woman’s father telling him that she should retract her accusations against the star.

Judge Ann M Donnelly ordered Williams to service a 96 month sentence – higher than had been expected.

In a statement, prosecution attorney Breon Peace said: “In a violent act designed to instil fear and stop a witness from testifying at trial, Williams set fire to the victim’s vehicle in the middle of the night while it was parked outside of a residence occupied by four adults and two children. Intimidating witnesses and threatening the safety of crime victims undermine the very fabric of our judicial system and will never be tolerated”.

Another of the men accused of attempting to derail the criminal case against Kelly is Richard Arline Jr, who pleaded guilty to offering a bribe of $500,000 for one of the musician’s accusers to destroy evidence. He he set to be sentenced in February. The third man, Donnell Russell, is accused of attempting to blackmail another of Kelly’s victims. His case is still pending.

Kelly, of course, was found guilty in a New York court in September of setting up and running a criminal enterprise in order to sexually and physically abuse women and girls. He is also facing additional charges in other US states, in particular his home state of Illinois.