NEW YORK (CBS/AP) — Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer R. Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported, the new characters emerging in the R. Kelly story revealed, among other things, how Kelly allegedly lured and secured underage girls – from wristbands worn to identify them to travel plans and rules.
Among the rules were that the girls could not leave the room to go to the bathroom, that they couldn’t eat unless Kelly said so, that they had to wear baggy clothes when not around Kelly, and that they had to call him “Daddy,” prosecutors said.
A longtime friend of the indicted singer, Richard Arline Jr. of Dolton, offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly’s prosecution, authorities said.
What is unclear is whether Kelly authorized the bribe.
Arline was arrested on Wednesday at his Dolton apartment, where neighbors do not believe it to be true.
“He’s a good father, a good man,” a neighbor said.
Meanwhile, a manager and adviser of Kelly, Donnell Russell, threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly. The victim, only identified as Jane Doe, never received money from Arline, officials said.
The Grammy-award winning musician has denied ever abusing anyone and has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York.
The charges range from sexual assault to heading the racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. Kelly also is accused of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.
Prosecutors described a third man accused of intimidating witnesses as being related to a former Kelly publicist, Michael Williams, 37, of Valdosta, Georgia.
Federal prosecutors said Williams texted the father of a victim and witness, saying, “It might be wise to protect your daughter from heartache she’s gonna endure through this and after.”
He traveled to Florida in June and set fire to a sport-utility vehicle parked outside a residence where one of Kelly’s victims was staying, prosecutors said.
Williams also conducted Internet searches for “the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States,” authorities said in a news release.
The attorney for Kelly said late Wednesday: “I can tell you with 100% certainty that are Kelly has absolutely nothing to do with anything that is alleged in these materials.”
A message was sent to Williams’ attorney seeking comment.
Prosecutors said the crimes of intimidation shock the conscience. They said the men charged Wednesday have shown there is no line they will not cross – even if it means re-victimizing Kelly’s accusers.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)