NEW YORK - A federal judge in Downtown Brooklyn sentenced an associate of convicted sex trafficker R. Kelly to eight years in prison for setting fire to a vehicle used by one of Kelly's victims.
Michael Williams, who is reportedly a relative of a former R. Kelly publicist, poured gasoline onto an SUV parked outside a house in Florida where the victim was staying and then torched it in June 2020, federal authorities said. The victim was set to be a witness for the prosecution in the case against Kelly.
"In a violent act designed to instill fear and stop a witness from testifying at trial, Williams set fire to the victim's vehicle in the middle of the night while it was parked outside of a residence occupied by four adults and two children. U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. "Intimidating witnesses and threatening the safety of crime victims undermine the very fabric of our judicial system and will never be tolerated."
The woman, referred to as "Jane Doe" by the feds, was not in court for the sentencing but Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez read a statement on her behalf.
"My mental state deteriorated tremendously due to fear, invasion of privacy, and trauma among many other things. Because of your actions, I live in fear and have had to relocate my entire life," Jane Doe said in the statement, according to Cruz Melendez. "My family is traumatized and has been in distress due to this unlawful act. I hope this life-changing event gives you time to reflect on your actions."
A Georgia man pleaded guilty to torching this SUV used by a woman who testified that R. Kelly sexually abused her. (Court document trial exhibit via U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York)
Williams, 38, of Valdosta, Georgia, pleaded guilty to arson back in April. In addition to his 96-month prison sentence, he will have to pay restitution, authorities said.
In September, a jury convicted Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, on numerous racketeering charges related to shocking and lurid accusations of exploiting, coercing, and sex-trafficking several young women and girls. Kelly, 54, had repeatedly denied the accusations that he preyed on women and girls during his 30-year Grammy-winning career.
A prosecutor said R&B singer R. Kelly would often record sex acts with minors as he controlled a racketeering enterprise of individuals. (Jane Rosenberg)