Michael Williams, an associate of disgraced R&B star R Kelly, has been sentenced to eight years in prison after intimidating an accuser in Kelly’s trial for sexual abuse.
Williams, a relative of a former publicist for Kelly, had pleaded guilty to arson. In June 2020, he drove 200 miles to where one of Kelly’s accusers, known pseudonymously as Jane, was living, and set a car leased by Jane’s father on fire.
“The vehicle, leased by the victim’s father, was heavily damaged,” prosecutors said during the trial in April this year. “Fire investigators also detected an accelerant along the outside perimeter of the residence. Williams had previously made internet searches about the detonation properties of fertiliser and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering, and countries that do not have extradition agreements with the United States.”
Jane’s father had also received a threatening text message, saying: “It might be wise for you to protect your daughter from heartache she’s gonna endure through this and after.”
Jane was not at the sentencing, but said in a statement: “My mental state deteriorated tremendously due to fear, invasion of privacy and trauma among many other things. Because of your actions, I live in fear and have had to relocate my entire life.”
Other associates of Kelly have been accused of witness intimidation. Donnell Russell, a former manager of Kelly, is accused of threatening to leak sexually explicit photos of one woman. Russell has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. Richard Arline Jr pleaded guilty earlier this year to pressuring a woman not to testify against Kelly, offering hush money.
In September, Kelly was found guilty of nine counts against him, including sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of a child, racketeering and kidnapping. The court heard testimony from numerous women who said Kelly coerced them into sex and controlled their lives with physical and emotional abuse. He will be sentenced in May and faces decades in prison.