Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against three men accused of threatening and intimidating women who have accused R&B singer R. Kelly of abuse, including one man suspected of setting fire to a vehicle in Florida.
A longtime friend of the indicted singer offered to pay a victim $500,000 to keep her from cooperating in Kelly's prosecution, authorities said, while a manager and adviser of Kelly threatened to release sexually explicit photographs of a woman who sued Kelly.
The Grammy-award winning musician has denied ever abusing anyone and has pleaded not guilty to dozens of state and federal sexual misconduct charges in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York.
The charges range from sexual assault to heading a racketeering scheme aimed at supplying Kelly with girls. Kelly also is accused of having unprotected sex with a girl in 2015 without disclosing he had herpes.
Prosecutors described a third man accused of intimidating witnesses as being related to a former Kelly publicist. They said Michael Williams, 37, of Valdosta, Georgia, traveled to Florida in June and set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence where one of Kelly's victims was staying.
Williams also conducted Internet searches for "the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering and countries that do not have extradition with the United States," authorities said in a news release.
A message was sent to Williams' attorney seeking comment.