I thought just R. Kelly was the one on trial? Now it seems the disgraced R&B singer’s manager is taking a crack at this court thing.
On Tuesday, Donnell Russell’s trial started on charges that he forcefully canceled the premiere screening of the 2019 documentary Surviving R. Kelly by calling in a threat at a theater in Manhattan, according to the Associated Press.
Surviving R. Kelly was a documentary series from Lifetime that laid out the multitude of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer over his decades-long career. Along with many celebrities and people that worked closely with him, the series also featured many of Kelly’s alleged victims.
The threatening phone call resulted in the venue making an emergency call to the police who evacuated the area and canceled the premiere event. Which also included a panel discussion with many of the women who were featured in the documentary.
From the Associated Press:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that Donnell Russell made a terrifying brief phone call in December 2018 from his Chicago home to the theater, claiming that someone with a gun was planning to fire on the crowd watching Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series.
“He knew his words would sabotage the event,” she said.
“The defendant wanted to keep the women quiet,” Pomerantz said in Manhattan federal court. She added that Russell was motivated by a desire to protect the lucrative career of the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling songwriter.
Russell’s attorney, Michael Freedman claims that there were multiple calls to the theater the day of the premiere and urged jurors to “decide what it all means and what, if anything, it proves about my client,” according to the Associated Press.
Freedman also added there is not enough evidence to prove Russell committed a crime since there was no recording of the alleged threatening phone call.