Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Donnell Russell was sentenced by United States District Judge Ann M. Donnelly to 20 months’ imprisonment for his participation in a scheme to harass, intimidate, and cause substantial emotional distress to Jane Doe, a victim in the Eastern District of New York racketeering case against Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as “R. Kelly,” and Jane Doe’s mother. Russell, a self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly, harassed and threatened Jane Doe and her mother after Jane Doe filed a civil lawsuit against R. Kelly. Russell continued his harassment campaign after it was clear that Jane Doe was a victim in Kelly’s criminal case in this District and would likely testify against Kelly.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sentence.
“For more than a year, the defendant engaged in a vicious campaign to harass, humiliate and threaten the victim in order to force her to dismiss her lawsuit against R. Kelly and stop speaking publicly about him,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The punishment meted out to the defendant today is a victory for crime victims, particularly those of sexual assault and abuse, who are often reluctant to come forward to law enforcement or pursue legal recourse, given the trauma and fear of retaliation associated with publicly discussing their experiences.”
Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the Homeland Security Investigations, New York, for its outstanding investigative work on the case.
Between November 2018 and February 2020, 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. In November 2018, Russell caused a letter, with attachments, purportedly written by Kelly, to be mailed to Jane Doe’s 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 and discussed 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 Attorney Anna Karamigios is 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)