The government is asking a judge to shield the identities of victims planning to testify in the next trial of R. Kelly.
The disgraced singer is set to go on trial on August 15th in Chicago for luring minors into sex acts and recording them.
United States Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. asked Judge Harry D. Leinenweber to allow the victims to use pseudonyms to protect their identities from becoming public.
The victims were between 13 and 17 when R. Kelly had illegal sexual contact with them.
The pseudonyms will be necessary due to the evidence against R. Kelly, which will include testimony from the mother of a minor and the singer’s long-time abuse of her daughter.
Prosecutors are worried about R. Kelly’s rabid fan base. They believe the victims will be in danger if their identities become public.
“The limited protections requested by the government are necessary and appropriate to protect the Victim-Witnesses’ safety and well-being, avoid harassment by the press and others, prevent undue embarrassment and other adverse consequences, such as retaliation by Kelly supporters, relocation, or loss of employment,” US attorney John R. Lausch Jr explained.
The government is seeking to prevent the disclosure of the names, addresses, names of family members, and places of employment of the victims who will take the stand next month.
Prosecutors are taking no chances with the witnesses due to the dangers they face.
Last week, federal authorities charged a man named Christopher Gunn, 39, for threatening the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
Gunn urged R. Kelly’s supporters to storm the federal building, saying, if “Kellz goes down, everybody’s going down.”
In November of 2021, a man named Michael Williams was sentenced to 8 years in prison for trying to intimidate a witness on behalf of R. Kelly.
Williams, who is from Georgia, went to Florida, where victim Azriel Clary lived and set her father’s SUV on fire.
Last week, R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking.
His lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, claimed officials are punishing R. Kelly unnecessarily because he is a high-profile inmate.
In their response, the government denied the allegations and claimed it was standard procedure to put a prisoner on suicide watch after being sentenced for such heinous crimes.
Earlier today (July 5th), prison officials removed R. Kelly from suicide watch.