R. Kelly Manager Sentenced For Calling In Shooting Threat At ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Screening
New York, NY –
R. Kelly’s former manager has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for calling in a shooting threat at a New York theater in 2018 to stop a screening of the damaging docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
Donnell Russell, who briefly managed the disgraced R&B star as he faced growing sexual abuse allegations, was sentenced for his crime in a New York court on Monday (December 19), according to the Associated Press.
As the judge handed down his sentence, Russell claimed he’s not a “horrible person,” but admitted to making “bad judgements” during his time working with Kelly, who himself is behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, however, condemned the 47-year-old as someone who took part in “serious criminal conduct” in “a misguided attempt to protect someone who was a prolific abuser.”
In his phone call, Russell claimed someone at the event had a gun and intended to open fire. The theater was subsequently evacuated and the screening called off.
“I was happy that it ended. I didn’t question how it ended,” Russell said of the canceled premiere during his sentencing hearing.
The docuseries, which aired on Lifetime in 2019 and helped lead to R. Kelly’s eventual imprisonment, detailed the allegations that the singer sexually abused women and girls. Some of the accusers were scheduled to speak on a panel after the screening.
Prosecutors linked Russell to the crime through phone records and a text he sent about police potentially arriving at the venue. He was convicted in July of threatening physical harm through interstate communication, although he was acquitted of conspiracy.
Donnell Russell will serve his sentence concurrently with another conviction related to his efforts to supress R. Kelly’s accusers. In November, the Chicago native was sentenced to 20 months in prison for stalking one of the singer’s sexual assault victims in order to “silence” her.
Russell is alleged to have used phone calls, emails and texts to harass and intimidate the victim and her mother between 2018 and 2020. His coercive campaign even included publishing explicit photos of the victim online — behavior prosecutors called “reprehensible.”
As for R. Kelly, the “I Believe I Can Fly” hitmaker is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking charges. He was convicted again in September of child pornography and exploitation charges by a federal jury in in his hometown of Chicago.
Following the latter verdict, Kelly’s team filed two motions seeking a new trial or an outright reversal of his conviction. The singer’s lead attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, cited several technical factors, including that prosecutors had not proven that the infamous videotape of Kelly abusing “Jane” at his home was made for the “purpose” of producing child pornography.
Meanwhile, R. Kelly and his fiancée Joycelyn Savage reportedly welcomed their first child together earlier this month. The baby girl, whose name is Ava Lee Kelly, was conceived through IVF.
“My baby girl Ava when you were born, my whole world shined so bright,” Savage wrote in an Instagram post introducing their daughter to the world. “I knew that it was no longer about me anymore it was about us.
“Though the world is cold, I promise to always protect you. I am so happy to be your mother & you bring me so much joy . 12.08.22.”