Three alleged R. Kelly associates are now, like him, behind bars—accused of trying to manipulate women who accuse him of sex crimes, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Federal prosecutors say they've charged Richard Arline Jr., 31, Donnell Russell, 45, and Michael Williams, 37, in separate schemes of trying to bribe, intimidate, and harass the R&B singer's alleged victims. Arline, who's described as Kelly's "self-proclaimed" friend, allegedly discussed paying one victim $500,000 to keep her quiet. Per the feds, Arline said in a recorded phone call that he'd talked to Kelly while the singer was behind bars, saying that "he gonna pay her ... off to be quiet," adding that she "got too much. She got too much."
Russell allegedly threatened to release one victim's sexually explicit photos and even sent versions of them to executives and producers of A&E and Lifetime in 2018 on the day Lifetime was set to screen some of the Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, per NPR. That screening and panel were later canceled due to a gun threat. Williams is accused of setting fire to an SUV parked outside the Florida home of a Kelly accuser in June; her father had signed the vehicle's lease. A Kelly attorney promptly denied the singer's involvement in any of the schemes. Kelly is facing a slew of federal criminal charges for allegedly abusing 11 women and girls between 1994 and 2018. (Another Kelly charge involves a "hidden" STD.)