R. Kelly’s former manager was sentenced Thursday to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he stalked one of Kelly’s sexual abuse victims in an effort to keep her quiet.
Donnell Russell pleaded guilty in July using threats, harassment and intimidation to silence one of the women abused by Kelly, who was convicted last year of sex trafficking and extortion charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison in June.
Ahead of his sentencing, Russell’s lawyers argued that he should receive only probation, arguing that he had led an “otherwise exemplary life” before he “crossed the line in his attempts to benefit Robert Kelly.”
But prosecutors strongly disagreed, citing dozens of previous arrests and calling his behavior “abhorrent.” They asked for 24 to 30 months, saying it was necessary to deter such behaviour: “If victims are concerned that this type of behavior will not be sufficiently punished, it may deter victims from seeking legal remedies and from cooperating with law enforcement investigations.”
After Thursday’s sentencing, Russell’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment Billboard.
Prosecutors say Russell, a self-described manager, adviser and friend of Kelly, used “reprehensible” tactics against the unnamed victim after she filed a civil lawsuit against the singer in 2018. They included sending threatening messages to the woman and her mother, and then publish explicit pictures of her on the Internet.
“Just an example. We will be seeking criminal charges. You have been warned,” Russell wrote in a December 2018 message to the victim and her mother, referring to the nude photos.
Separated from the stalking allegations was Russell as well sentenced in July making a phone threat that gunfire was imminent at a crowded Manhattan theater preparing for a premiere of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly series. The phone threat led to a call to the police and an evacuation that forced the premiere to be canceled.
Russell is awaiting sentencing next week on those charges.