Mel B’s estranged husband is fighting the former Spice Girl’s request to conduct his upcoming domestic violence trial behind closed doors.
In new court documents the Daily News obtained, Stephen Belafonte claims he deserves a chance to publicly defend himself against Mel B’s “false and damaging” claims that he repeatedly abused her during their 10-year marriage.
Mel B filed for divorce in March. Weeks later, the 42-year-old “America’s Got Talent” judge, whose real name is Melanie Brown, won a temporary domestic violence restraining order with claims Belafonte punched and choked her, threatened to release sex tapes if she reported him and got their nanny pregnant.
“Essentially, (Brown) had free reign to make all manner of false allegations and besmirch (Belafonte) to her heart’s content and now seeks to seal the record before (he) presents his evidence and his defense at the time of the upcoming trial,” his new filing argues.
He said Mel B’s claim that a public trial would cause “irreparable harm” to their 5-year-old daughter and her other children was overblown.
“It is hypocritical for a public figure who has willingly ‘chosen to be in the limelight’ not only in her professional life but in her personal life, to turn around now at this juncture of the case and seek a veil of secrecy that the general public is otherwise not afforded,” his filing states.
Belafonte is asking the court to deny Brown’s request for a private trial and instead issue a tailored ruling that would close the courtroom for any proceedings related to the kids.
“I believe that protecting the privacy interests of (the kids) is of the utmost importance and I am agreeable to limiting access to the courtroom during the limited time the court makes any custody or visitation orders and subsequently limiting access to court records regarding the same,” Belafonte said in a signed statement filed with his paperwork.
He said Brown’s request for a completely sealed trial amounted to an attempt “to use her ‘celebrity’ to unfairly benefit from the secrecy of a private trial.”
The trial is set to begin Sept. 25.