An associate of Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known as R. Kelly, agreed to plead guilty on Monday to committing arson as part of an effort to intimidate one of the women who accused the disgraced R&B singer of sexual misconduct and prevent her from testifying, several news outlets reported.
According to the reports on the proceeding, Michael Williams, 38, appeared remotely before Judge Anne Donnelly in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and pleaded guilty, admitting that he drove from Valdosta, Georgia to Kissimmee, Florida where the female accuser was staying. There, Williams “deliberately set a car on fire in someone’s driveway,” per Courthouse News. The woman was staying at her father’s home when Williams said he lit fire to the black SUV that was parked in the driveway and had been rented from Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
Williams answered affirmatively when Judge Donnelly asked, “When you lit the car on fire, was it your purpose to damage the car or destroy it?” There were four adults and two minors inside the home at the time of the fire, with one of the adults telling law enforcement that they heard an explosion in the front of the house and ran outside where they saw “an individual fleeing from the scene of the fire, whose arm appeared to be lit on fire.”
Law enforcement was able to use surveillance footage from outside the home to connect the vehicle used by the person who lit the fire to Williams.
Additionally, prosecutors showed records indicating that Williams had performed internet searches for making fertilizer bombs, news about R. Kelly, and witness tampering case law.
Williams, reportedly a relative of a former publicist for R. Kelly, is currently scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and faces a maximum penalty of up to 71 months in prison.
Kelly is an allegedly prolific abuser of women and girls, using resources and intimidation to keep them quiet about what happened. This has resulted in federal charges in Illinois and New York, and a state case in Illinois. Williams and two other men—Richard Aline Jr. and Donnell Russell—were also accused of trying to silence or otherwise undermine alleged victims who have accused the 54-year-old Kelly of running an enterprise that illegally trafficked underage girls and women who were fans of his music and attended his concerts.
Aline, for example, allegedly suggested paying a Jane Doe $500,000 in exchange for not cooperating with the government against Kelly.
Russell allegedly tried to intimidate one of the Jane Does connected to a civil lawsuit against Kelly, harassing her and her mother.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[image via Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images]
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