[b]Judge In Jackson Trial Grants Delay[/b] [i]Prosecution Claims Jackson Imprisoned Boy, Family At Neverland Ranch [/i] POSTED: 9:37 am PDT July 27, 2004 UPDATED: 5:14 pm PDT July 27, 2004 LOS ANGELES — The judge in the Michael Jackson case granted a request by the defense to delay the start of Jackson’s trial from Sept. 13 to Jan. 31, 2005. A prosecutor said Tuesday that pop star Michael Jackson enticed a young boy into thinking that the singer was “the coolest guy in the world,” then imprisoned him and his family at his Neverland Ranch and forced them to make a video absolving him of molestation claims. The fiery court presentation by Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss disclosed for the first time the prosecution’s theory of its conspiracy case against Jackson, claiming he panicked after a television show threatened to destroy his career by linking him with an obsession with young boys. “The fact that Mr. Jackson rationalized this behavior on national television was his downfall,” Auchincloss said during a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case. “It represented the complete and utter ruin of his empire. … It made him an international object of loathing and scorn,” the prosecutor said. Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. derided the entire prosecution case as “absurd on its face” and demanded dismissal of all charges. Mesereau objected that the prosecutor, who was supposed to be opposing the dismissal motion, was delivering a final argument. But the judge allowed him to continue. In a British TV documentary called “Living With Michael Jackson” and broadcast in February 2003, Jackson defended his habit of letting children sleep in his bed as “sweet” and non-sexual. The accuser is seen in the video. Later in February, Jackson’s lawyers made their own videotape of the boy and his mother. Sources who previously talked on the condition of anonymity have said the mother and child praised Jackson’s generosity toward them and described him as a father figure to the boy, a cancer patient. “The person Jackson perceived could put out this (public relations) fire was John Doe and his family,” the prosecutor said, referring to the alleged victim. “If he could get them on tape describing Mr. Jackson as a wonderful person, it would quell this fire.” Auchincloss said Jackson also sent his private jet to take the family to his Neverland Ranch and whisked them away to “vacations” in luxury resorts. “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 to sleep in the bed of Michael Jackson.” The prosecutor even suggested Jackson lured the alleged victim to his bed after the documentary was shown on television. Auchincloss said Jackson enticed the young boy with alcohol. [b]Mesereau ridiculed the assumption that the trips constituted false imprisonment, 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.” The lawyer said the accuser’s mother was also given a credit card to buy new clothes. “She claims all these benefits she was given by Michael Jackson were designed to entice her and the children. It’s ridiculous,” Mesereau said, adding the boy’s brother and sister also benefited from lavish gifts.[/b] [b]Auchincloss, however, said the family members were virtual prisoners, forbidden to leave Neverland. He said the family escaped once but was “cajoled back.” He did not give further details. Mesereau said the family left then returned to “have some more fun.” The prosecutor went on to berate Jackson’s former attorney Mark Geragos for going on national television and saying the case was “a shakedown.” Mesereau countered: “If this is an issue of prior counsel saying it was a shakedown, I say it was a shakedown!”[/b] Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville listened to 90 minutes of arguments and said he would take the arguments for and against dismissal under submission and issue a written order. Jackson, 45, did not attend the proceedings, which could last several days. He is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail and scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13. Defense attorneys, however, have requested a four-month delay to review evidence gathered by prosecutors. During Tuesday’s hearing, Auchincloss disclosed only fragmentary details of the grand jury indictment and testimony. The judge later rejected a plea from media attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. to release more of the material now that portions of it are in the public record. Boutrous represents a coalition of media organizations including The Associated Press. Also during the hearing, defense attorney Steve Cochran questioned the former lead investigator in the case about the conduct of Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who was not present. The witness, Paul Zelis, was asked whether he or any other prosecutors knew that a private investigator whose office was under surveillance by Sneddon was working for Geragos. Zelis said he was not aware of that connection. :nav Source: [url=http://www.nbc4.tv/entertainment/3582630/detail.html]http://www.nbc4.tv/entertainment/3582630/detail.html[/url]

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