A Chicago man who said he was a manager, adviser and friend of R. Kelly has pleaded guilty to having threatened, harassed and blackmailed one of the disgraced R&B singer’s victims.
Donnell Russell, 47, pleaded guilty Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly to one count of interstate stalking for harassing and intimidating a woman identified in court documents as Jane Doe in order to force her to drop her allegations against the singer, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
“When the 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.”
Kelly was sentenced in late June to 30 years in prison on one racketeering charge that included 12 underlying acts of sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping, bribery and sex trafficking as well as eight counts of violating the Mann Act sex trafficking law. Doe was a witness in the trial and has also filed a civil lawsuit against the “I believe I can fly” singer.
On Tuesday, Russell admitted to harassing and intimidating Doe and her mother from November 2018 when they filed their lawsuit against Kelly to February 2020.
Russell had threatened the pair via phone, mail and Internet that he would reveal sexually explicit photographs of Doe as well as her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit and stop participating in the racketeering case.
Among the threats included a letter he sent to Doe’s lawyer on Oct. 22, 2018, that warned if she “really cares about her own reputation she should cease her participation and association with the organizers of this negative campaign,” according to the original criminal complaint.
The letter contained sexually explicit photographs and text messages from Doe.
On Dec. 21 of that same year, Russell under the alias of Colon Dunn sent Doe and her mother a series of threatening text messages that included the explicit images.
Then on Jan. 3, 2019, Doe and her mother received a text message from Russell warning “pull the plug or you will be exposed.” Days later, Russell created a Facebook page and posted screen shots of text messages between Doe and Kelly that contained some of the explicit photographs. He also displayed them during interviews with vloggers that were live streamed on YouTube.
“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,” Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Ricky Patel said.
“Despite multiple threats, Russell ultimately failed in his efforts and will now face the consequences of his despicable behavior.”
Russell was charged along with Michael Williams and Richard Arline Jr. in August of 2020 with attempting to influence the testimony of R. Kelly’s victims.
Williams was sentenced in November of last year to 96 months in prison for setting fire to a vehicle at the home of a victim in the R. Kelly racketeering case.
In February, Arline pleaded guilty to offering hush money to a woman who said she entered into a sexual relationship with Kelly as a minor.
When sentenced, Russell faces a maximum of five years in prison.