R. Kelly's manager, Donnell Russell, was charged Friday with for allegedly making a threatening phone call to the Manhattan theater that screened the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly back in 2018.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Russell was charged with one count of conspiracy to threaten physical harm by interstate communication and one count of threatening physical harm by interstate communication. Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Russell's alleged threatening phone call on December 4, 2018 was made in an effort to halt the New York screening of Surviving R. Kelly, which explored the allegations that Kelly engaged in abusive sexual relationships with both minor girls and adult women.
"By allegedly threatening a shooting at the theater, Russell prevented the screening, which was attended by a number of R. Kelly's alleged victims," said acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement. "Threats of gun violence aimed at intimidating and silencing victims of sexual abuse are unlawful as well as unacceptable. We are committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting such crimes."
According to authorities, Russell attempted to have the screening shut down via a cease and desist order but when that didn't work, he allegedly called the theater and told an employee an armed individual would open fire at the screening if it went on. After receiving that call, the employee notified authorities and the screening was shut down and the theater evacuated.
Russell was expected to make an appearance in federal court on Friday.
By Candice Williams
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