R Kelly’s manager, Donnell Russell, was sentenced to 20 months in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to stalking and harassing one of the disgraced singer’s sexual abuse victims.
According to the Department of Justice (per Rolling Stone), Russell, 47, used text messages, phone calls, and emails to intimidate one of Kelly’s victims, identified as Jane Doe, and her mother out of coming forward about her experience with the singer. Russell allegedly threatened to release explicit photos of the victim if she did not withdraw her civil suit against Kelly. “Pull the plug or you will be exposed,” he wrote in a text sent on January 3rd, 2019. Russell also posted the photos to a Facebook page he made with an alias called “Surviving Lies” — a play on the 2019 Surviving R Kelly documentary that detailed his abuse — and displayed them again during two 2020 livestreams.
“Russell used threats, harassment and intimidation in a deliberate effort to silence one of R. Kelly’s victims and prevent her voice from being heard,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “When his initial effort failed, he continued his vile campaign by sending threatening messages to Jane Doe and her mother, and publishing explicit photos of the victim on the internet before and after Kelly was indicted. As this prosecution makes clear, the defendant’s conduct was not only reprehensible, but it was also criminal and will not be tolerated.”
Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Ricky J. Patel added, “Through the use of intimidation tactics, Russell repeatedly and purposefully worked to silence ‘Jane Doe’ from revealing the emotional and physical trauma inflicted on her by R. Kelly and his associates. Despite multiple threats, Russell ultimately failed in his efforts and will now face the consequences of his despicable behavior.”
In June, Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison in after a jury found him guilty of racketeering related to the sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, and forced labor, as well as eight charges of violating the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to “transport any woman or girl” across state lines “for any immoral purpose.” That sentence was the conclusion of his federal sex trafficking case in New York; in September, meanwhile, a federal jury in Illinois found Kelly guilty of child pornography. The singer is also still facing state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.