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Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Donnell Russell pleaded guilty to interstate stalking for his participation in a scheme to harass, intimidate, and cause substantial emotional distress to Jane Doe, a victim in the racketeering case against Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as “R. Kelly,” and Jane Doe’s mother. The proceeding was held before United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly. When sentenced, Russell faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ricky J. Patel, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the guilty plea.
“Russell used threats, harassment and intimidation in a deliberate effort to silence one of R. Kelly’s victims and prevent her voice from being heard,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “When his initial effort failed, he continued his vile campaign by sending threatening messages to Jane Doe and her mother, and publishing explicit photos of the victim on the internet before and after Kelly was indicted. As this prosecution makes clear, the defendant’s conduct was not only reprehensible, but it was also criminal and will not be tolerated.”
“Through the use of intimidation tactics, Russell repeatedly and purposefully worked to silence ‘Jane Doe’ from revealing the emotional and physical trauma inflicted on her by R Kelly and his associates. Despite multiple threats, Russell ultimately failed in his efforts and will now face the consequences of his despicable behavior,” said HSI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Patel. “HSI will continue to work together with our partners to support and empower survivors of abuse and exploitation to come forward and speak out against their abusers.”
Between November 2018 and February 2020, Russell, a self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly, used the mail, phones and the internet to harass and intimidate Jane Doe, a victim in the Kelly case, and her mother after Jane Doe filed a civil lawsuit against R. Kelly. Specifically, Russell threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly and “cease her participation and association with the organizers” of a “negative campaign” against Kelly. In November 2018, Russell caused a letter, with attachments, purportedly written by Kelly to be mailed to Jane Doe’s Brooklyn-based lawyer at the time. The attachments included cropped nude photographs of Jane Doe with the following text: “the next two pictures have been cropped for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!” In December 2018, Russell, using his alias “Colon Dunn,” sent a series of text messages to Jane Doe and her mother, which contained the same photographs of Jane Doe, and stating, “Just a sample. We will seek criminal charges. You’ve been warned,” as well as “Publishing soon” and “[T]his is Colon.”
On January 3, 2019, Russell sent additional text messages to Jane Doe and her mother, stating, “Pull the plug or you will be exposed.” On January 6, 2019, Russell, using the Colon Dunn alias, created a Facebook Page named “Surviving Lies,” a play on the title of Lifetime’s “Surviving R Kelly” documentary, and posted screen shots of text messages between Kelly and Jane Doe, which contained the same sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe. In late January 2020, Russell appeared on two live interviews with “vloggers” supporting Kelly discussing Kelly’s legal troubles, which were streamed live on the internet via YouTube. Russell again displayed the same sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe and broadcast them publicly over the internet.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia I. Shihata and Anna Karamigios are in charge of the prosecution.
DONNELL RUSSELL (also known as “Don Russell” and “Colon Dunn”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-427 (AMD)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office