John Travolta and son Jett in 2005
Splash News Online
09/19/2009 at 08:00 AM EDT
Since the death
of his 16-year-old son, Jett, last January, John Travolta has rarely been seen in public, choosing instead to grieve in private
But now, with an extortion trial related to his son's death set to begin in the Bahamas, the movie star may have to relive that tragedy in a courtroom.
At the trial, scheduled to begin in Nassau on Monday, a paramedic who responded to Travolta's call for help the day Jett died, Tarino Lightbourn, and a former Bahamian senator, Pleasant Bridgewater, face charges of conspiring to extort $25 million from the star by allegedly demanding money for a document relating to Jett's care. Both of the accused have pleaded not guilty.
The charges stem from events on the morning of January 2, 2009, when Jett died after suffering a seizure at his family's island vacation home. Lightbourn and a partner were the first paramedics to arrive at the scene, where they attempted CPR on Jett. While transporting him to a hospital, the paramedics were met by another ambulance driver who completed the trip. Jett was pronounced dead at the hospital later that morning.
According to the Bahamian police, Lightbourn kept a one-page "refusal to transport" form that Travolta allegedly signed that day. The document waives responsibility on the part of the ambulance crew if a patient declines to be taken to a hospital. Approximately two weeks later, Lightborn's lawyer, Pleasant Bridgewater, called an attorney for Travolta and said her client wanted to sell the document to the movie star, Bahamian police allege.
Travolta, 55, later filed an extortion complaint, which under Bahamian law compels him testify in person.
Since Jett’s death, the Travolta family has kept a low profile. Kelly Preston, 46, Travolta's wife, returned to work over the summer, starring opposite Miley Cyrus
in the upcoming movie The Last Song
, while Travolta, an avid pilot, took to the skies, flying to Miami and Puerto Rico.
Last Friday, the couple appeared with their daughter
, Ella Bleu, 9, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., to promote Old Dogs
, a comedy starring all three family members, including Ella in her first movie role. "I always appreciate the audience's love for me," Travolta told the crowd.