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As R. Kelly awaits sentencing for his Brooklyn criminal trial and prepares for his upcoming child pornography case in Illinois, his former associates and handlers face their own justice. For decades, Kelly has been accused of running a racketeering circle with the help of dozens. Now, an associate of the disgraced R&B singer will serve prison time for torching the car of Kelly’s ex-girlfriend. 

R. Kelly's ex-girlfriend Azriel Clary walking on the sidewalk surrounded by photographers.
Azriel Clary | Kena Betancur / AFP

R. Kelly’s associate pleaded guilty to torching Azriel Clary’s car

Michael Williams is described as a relative of Kelly’s former publicist. Williams, 38, pleaded guilty to setting fire to Azriel Clary’s car last summer. Clary was in a five-year relationship with Kelly, beginning when she was just 17. Williams set the car ablaze in an attempt to intimidate Clary out of testifying against Kelly in his criminal trial. 

Per Page Six, fire investigators linked Williams to the crime after discovering an accelerant on the edge of Clary’s property. Toll plaza cameras captured Williams’ GMC Yukon, which had severe damage to the front and side of the car and no license plate, traveling from his home state of Georgia to Florida ahead of the fire. The same cameras also captured Williams returning.

Once authorities searched Williams’ home, a complaint reveals he searched the phrases “witness intimidation” and “case law for tampering with a witness” on his devices. Clary also shared a photo and video evidence of the damage to her car on Instagram.

Source: YouTube

Related: R. Kelly Hires Bill Cosby’s Lawyer To Help Appeal His Recent Guilty Verdict

R. Kelly’s associate gets prison time

Williams was sentenced to eight years in prison for his actions. His attorney, Todd Spodek, told FOX News that a sentence of five years would have been “sufficient but not greater than necessary in this case.” Now, Spodek says they plan to explore their legal options in Williams’ conviction. 

At the time of the fire, Kelly’s sex-trafficking trial was pending. In September 2021, the court convicted Kelly of all counts. He is awaiting sentencing. Kelly faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

Azriel Clary says she’s a victim of R. Kelly’s abuse

Despite initially defending Kelly in a 2019 interview with Gayle King, Clary now says the singer manipulated and forced into doing so. She claims that her relationship with Kelly included riddled with physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. But after seeing her interaction with King, she became motivated to leave Kelly. She says that upon Kelly’s first incarceration, she plotted her move.

Source: YouTube

“We had no idea that we were actually the ones who were being made fun of,” Clary says of her first sitdown with King. “It was almost like mockery, but I needed that. As embarrassing and humiliating as it was, I needed that. I really did. I needed that humiliation to be able to say, ‘hey, this is not a lifestyle that is normal. This is not a lifestyle for anyone to be living in.’ No one can thrive in this situation, and I had to wake up from that.”

Clary says her family’s support and intense therapy have helped her heal. She’s now working on music and is an advocate for other victims of abuse. 

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. 

Related: Azriel Clary Testifies About Alleged Abuse From R. Kelly; Claims Beatings, Forceful Abortions, and Herpes Diagnosis