Louisville, KY – A judge deemed a Canadian man charged with stalking Jennifer Lawrence’s family a “danger” and ordered him held without bond.
US Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin said 23-year-old Han Cong Zhao of Vancouver has no ties to Kentucky, where the Lawrence family lives and that he could be dangerous if allowed to go free.
“Mr. Zhao has no connections here and apparently not strong connections in Canada,” Whalin said. “The evidence is strong. He presents a danger.”
Zhao was charged with stalking and making harassing phone calls to The Hunger Games actress’ family in May. He targeted her brother, Blaine, calling himself “Ted” and leaving messages in the middle of the night. Zhao used phones with California and Colorado area codes, but police eventually caught up with him.
Zhao asked Blaine Lawrence to put him in contact with the Oscar winner so he could “protect” her. He also said “bad things” would happen to the family if he didn’t get in touch with Jennifer Lawrence. He eventually flew to Louisville but, not knowing where the family lived, went to a police station to ask. Officers interviewed him for several hours and turned him over to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. Police arrested him upon his release.
Assistant US Attorney Joshua Judd said Han Cong Zhao’s case will be taken to a federal grand jury by mid-October. Judd asked that he be held pending trial.
“We believe he has a desire to go to Canada and possibly return to China,” he said.
Zhao’s public defender, Donald Meier, said his client isn’t a flight risk because he will be held by immigration agents until the case is over if released. He also said prosecutors are pursuing Zhao because of Jennifer Lawrence’s connection to the case.
“Nowhere that I can see is there a separate criteria for celebrities,” Meier said. “There is no celebrity rule.”
But Judge Whalin dismissed the notion of a “celebrity rule” and said that had nothing to do with his decision to hold the case for a grand jury.
“Let’s dispel any type of notion of a celebrity exception or rule,” Whalin said. “There is none.”