Published On: Fri, Aug 14th, 2020

R Kelly manager charged with cinema shooting threat that halted documentary screening | US News

R Kelly’s manager has been charged with threatening to open fire on a New York cinema – forcing an evacuation and police to cancel the screening of a documentary alleging the singer sexually abused women and girls.

Donnell Russell was arrested before being charged with conspiracy and threatening physical harm by interstate communication over the incident.

The 45-year-old from Chicago appeared remotely from Los Angeles before a magistrate judge in Manhattan.

He was allowed to remain free on $75,000 dollars (£57,000) bail.

Authorities say threats by Russell in December 2018 forced police to halt a screening of the Surviving R Kelly series at the NeueHouse Madison Square as a precaution, despite them having determined there was no imminent threat.

Acting US attorney Audrey Strauss said a number of the Grammy award-winning R&B singer’s accusers were to attend the screening.

“Threats of gun violence aimed at intimidating and silencing victims of sexual abuse are unlawful as well as unacceptable,” she said in a statement.

The head of New York’s FBI office, William F Sweeney Jr, said it “defies logic that a threat like the one alleged here could stop victims from speaking about their alleged abuse”.

He added that although Russell succeeded in shutting down that screening, he had failed to silence the women in the film.

Gretchen Carlson speaks at the screening of the Lifetime/NeueHouse Luminaries series 'Surviving R Kelly' before the evacuation
The screening of the Lifetime/NeueHouse Luminaries series ‘Surviving R Kelly’ before the evacuation took place

“Each and every day, we do everything in our power to make sure victims of sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard, and will continue to do so regardless of those who allegedly use violence as a means to stop them,” he said.

It comes after Russell was charged earlier this week with harassing a Kelly accuser and her mother after the unidentified woman filed a lawsuit against the singer.

Officials allege he sent a letter to the woman’s lawyer with cropped nude photographs of her, before sending her a text warning: “Pull the plug or you will be exposed.”

Kelly is being held in a Chicago jail awaiting multiple trials in Illinois, Minnesota and New York on dozens of state and federal sex crime charges.

The charges range from sexual assault to leading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying himself with girls. He is also accused of having unprotected sex with a minor in 2015 without telling her he had herpes.

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