An associate of R. Kelly has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for attempting to intimidate a victim of the singer. According to Buzzfeed News, Michael Williams—a relative of Kelly’s former publicist—drove from Georgia to Florida and poured gasoline on the vehicle owned by the unidentified victim’s father before setting it on fire. Investigators also found an accelerant poured around the home.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez read the following statement from the victim during the sentencing hearing:
“It is very unfortunate to see a man lose his freedom, however, the crime that was committed was not only vicious but disturbing. 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. In that home were not only adults but animals and children under the age of 10. My family is traumatized and has been in distress due to this unlawful act. I hope this life-changing event gives you time to reflect on your actions.”
In April, the 38-year-old pleaded guilty to arson charges related to the violent fire. Williams was arrested in August 2020 with two other men for multiple attempts to threaten, bribe, and intimidate accusers with hopes of sabotaging the singer’s federal racketeering trial. One of the arrested men later worked with investigators and testified that the 54-year-old musician had sexually abused him.
The investigation in the arson led to Williams after a search warrant was authorized to Google to determine any users who had recently searched the victim’s address. Law enforcement officials were able to locate him through his Google account and found he had also used the search engine to look up information on fertilizer bombs, news about R. Kelly, “case law for tampering with a witness,” and “where can i buy a .50 custom machine gun.”
Despite attempts to silence R. Kelly’s accusers, multiple witnesses took the stand to testify of their abuse at his hands, sharing similar, disturbing accounts. In September, he was found guilty on nine counts of the racketeering and sex-trafficking charges against him in New York City. Kelly is set to be sentenced in May 2022 and faces decades behind bars.
The disgraced singer is scheduled to stand trial in Chicago in August 2022 on charges of child pornography, enticing children into sex acts, and accusations that he and two former employees conspired to fix his 2008 criminal trial in Illinois by paying off witnesses and victims.