Jackson Accused of Imprisoning Family
Offering a first glimpse behind the conspiracy charges against Michael Jackson, prosecutors claimed Tuesday that the singer imprisoned a young boy and forced his family to make a video absolving him of molestation claims.
Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss told the court the star enticed the boy into thinking that Jackson was "the coolest guy in the world" then manipulated the situation.
In the hearing, the prosecutor argued that Jackson panicked after seeing a British TV profile (broadcast in the United States in February 2003) that highlighted his friendships with young boys.
"The fact that Mr. Jackson rationalized this behavior on national television was his downfall. It represented the complete and utter ruin of his empire," Auchincloss said. "It made him an international object of loathing and scorn."
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. – who is seeking dismissal of the case – immediately objected, but the judge permitted Auchincloss to continue.
Detailing several of the charges in the indictment (which up until know had been sealed by a gag order), Auchincloss suggested that Jackson lured his young accuser to his bed with alcohol after the TV interview had run.
"He had his private plane land in the middle of the night in Santa Barbara, and take John Doe and his family to Neverland," the prosecutor said. "At Neverland, there are late nights, no homework. Do what you want, eat what you want, stay out late – no rules. It's a world of self-indulgence. Ultimately, it gets John Doe (the alleged victim) to sleep in the bed of Michael Jackson."
Auchincloss added: "His right hand man told (the family) they were not allowed to leave Neverland. They did escape but were cajoled back."
He also said Jackson flew the boy's family to vacations at luxury resorts.
Mesereau ridiculed the assumptions, saying: "The idea that they were imprisoned and forced to fly on private jets to Florida, to socialize with celebrities such as Chris Tucker, is absurd on its face. It would be laughed out of court by a jury."
Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said he would take Tuesday's arguments under submission and issue a written order.
Meanwhile, Tuesday's hearing was viewed as a positive step by those seeking to unseal documents in the Jackson case.
"This is the first time that the prosecution's allegations of detailed, overt acts have surfaced," said Ted Boutrous, an attorney for a consortium of media outlets such as NBC and CBS, which is protesting the cloud of secrecy around the trial that has kept documents and the indictment sealed from the press and the public. "This is a step. We have some of the allegations. More needs to be released."
Jackson, 45, stands accused of committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on $3 million bail. A scheduled Sept. 13 start date for the trial has been pushed back to Jan. 31, 2005. The jurist's decision was based on a defense request to postpone proceedings so that their side can properly study all of the prosecution's arguments.