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U.S. Attorney Wants Court to Keep Potential R. Kelly Jurors Anonymous

R. Kelly
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP via Getty Images

R. Kelly leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building after a hearing on sexual abuse charges on May 7, 2019 in Chicago.

The lead New York prosecutor in the case doesn't want the singer to know the names and personal information of any of the potential jurors that will be deciding his case. 

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue filed a 16-page motion July 8th asking a judge to allow the case against singer R. Kelly to be heard by an anonymous jury that is partially sequestered for the duration of the trial. Donoghue says not only does R. Kelly have a history of attempting to obstruct justice, but he has also is likely to be perceived "as capable of inflicting violence."

The government is asking that the identities of all potential jurors along with their home addresses and places of employment be kept secret during the trial. They are also asking that US Marshals guard the jurors during the trial making sure that they do not come into contact with the public or any trial spectators.

R. Kelly is facing charges in New York of racketeering, coercion of a minor, transportation of a minor, and coercion to engage in illegal sexual activity. The charges related to six different victims. The indictment alleges that for over two decades that R. Kelly was the leader of a racketeering enterprise made up of managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners who recruited women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer. The sexual activity was often filmed and photographed by R. Kelly, according to the court filing by the DOJ. He is also awaiting trial in Illinois regarding separate sexual abuse allegations and is currently being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

According to the indictment, the women and girls were required by R. Kelly to follow specific rules — call him "Daddy," wear baggy clothing, not to look at other men, and needed permission to leave their rooms to eat or visit the bathroom. R. Kelly also isolated the women from their friends and family and made them dependent on him for their financial well-being, the papers state.

Donoghue argues because of this enterprise and because of the extensive media coverage of the singer's case that it is important that juror identities be kept secret. They also argue that there is evidence that R. Kelly has a history of attempting to obstruct justice.

"Based on the evidence to be presented at trial, the defendant is likely to be perceived by the jurors as capable of inflicting violence," reads the motion submitted to the court by Donoghue. "Multiple witnesses will testify that the defendant physically and violently assaulted them when they broke one of the defendant's 'rules' and that they witnessed the defendant physically assault others as well for similar transgressions."

Attorneys for the singer have not yet responded to Billboard's request for comment.