Michael Williams has pleaded guilty to arson in a Brooklyn federal court after being accused of having “set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence in Florida where an alleged victim in the [R.] Kelly case and others were staying.” He’s one of three men who were charged with intimidating and threatening alleged victims in the R. Kelly sexual assault case. Details on how Williams and Kelly are connected were not disclosed during the court appearance, but Williams is said to be related to Kelly’s former publicist.
Kelly was arrested in July 2019 on two charges, including alleged racketeering and sex-related crimes against women and girls, and transporting for prostitution and coercion or enticement of a female. He pleaded not guilty at the time to all charges and was denied bail due to posing a potential threat to public safety and possible flight risk. Kelly was allegedly involved in minor sex trafficking, allegedly illegally married to Aaliyah when she was still a minor and allegedly acting with generally abusive behavior to women, such as alleged accounts of Kelly placing limits on what women could eat or when they were allowed to use the restroom. His charges are spread between Brooklyn, NY, Cooks County, IL and Hennepin County, MN.
By the time a court date was set for April 2020, Kelly had racked up 13 counts of federal indictments, including sexual abuse of minors and conspiring to obstruct justice. The court appearance was postponed until September 13, 2021 due to COVID-19, and may be postponed further if the pandemic causes enough delays. The trial is set to take place in Chicago federal court. Until then, Kelly remains detained in Chicago in spite of his latest petition to be released due to the pandemic.
Williams is the second of the three men to plead guilty to the criminal charges that were placed against them according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York last August. One of the other two, Richard Arline, Jr., pleaded guilty to an attempt to bribe one of Kelly’s accusers into silence. Arline is “a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly,” and told his judge in February that he and an unnamed person had “offered Jane Doe money for her to not go forward with her complaint or testimony against Robert Kelly.”
The allegations claimed that Kelly and affiliates had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to hide evidence, including alleged videos of Kelly performing sexual acts with underage girls. Donnell Russell, the third man to be charged who is affiliated with Kelly, is “a self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly.” Russell pleaded ‘not guilty’ to harassing and threatening Kelly accusers, but was reportedly in the middle of plea negotiations this past November.