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The trial of R. Kelly’s manager began Tuesday over charges that he forced the cancellation of a 2018 screening of the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary about the singer’s sexual abuse of women and girls by calling in an active shooter threat to the packed New York theater.
Donnell Russell is on trial for allegedly phoning the NeueHouse Madison Square on Dec. 4, 2018, and telling a staff member that someone in the crowded theater had a gun in their possession and was going to “shoot up” the event, which required evacuation of the building.
The trial of R. Kelly’s manager commenced Tuesday over charges that he forced the cancellation of a screening of a documentary about the singer’s sexual abuse of women and girls. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told jurors that Russell “knew his words would sabotage the event.”
R. Kelly’s manager Donnell Russell is on trial for charges that he forced the cancellation of a screening of the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary by calling an active shooter threat to the theater. (AP Photo)
“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 Kelly’s career.
Kelly, who was convicted in 2021 of racketeering and sex trafficking, was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison.
R. Kelly was convicted last year of racketeering and sex trafficking and was sentenced last month to 30 years in prison. (Photo by Antonio Perez – Pool via Getty Images)
Defense attorney Michael Freedman told jurors that they would exonerate Russell if they study the evidence.
The man who received the call at the New York theater, Adrian Krasniqi, testified in court. Krasniqi also worked at the venue. He pointed out that he received the threatening phone call less than an hour after a man, who claimed to be part of Kelly’s legal team, called.
The caller said the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary was violating the R&B singer’s copyright to his name and should not be shown. Krasniqi described the caller as someone who had a low, professional-sounding voice. He testified that the caller said in a very serious and very blunt manner that “someone had a gun and they were going to shoot up the place.”
Krasniqi noted during cross-examination that he believed the caller had a Brooklyn accent, which he recognized since he’s from the area. He also said the caller sounded like he was outside when he made the threat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Stephanie Giang-Paunon is an Entertainment Writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @SGiangPaunon.