R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe was among more than a dozen potential jurors dismissed at the beginning of the trial for a man accused of sneaking into a middle school and trying to sexually assault a girl.

Stipe told Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens on Monday he could not be fair and impartial in the case because he has been the target of stalkers and death threats, the Athens Banner-Herald reported.

Apart from Stipe, 15 other potential jurors were dismissed because they said they had already made up their minds about the suspect's guilt or innocence.