Jackson held family prisoner, mother of 'victim' tells court

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The Independent US

In another unlikely twist to the already unlikely saga of Michael Jackson's abuse trial, the mother of the teenaged accuser claimed that she and her family had been imprisoned by the pop star's henchman and told that "killers" were after her.

In another unlikely twist to the already unlikely saga of Michael Jackson's abuse trial, the mother of the teenaged accuser claimed that she and her family had been imprisoned by the pop star's henchman and told that "killers" were after her.

The woman said that over several weeks she and others were constantly shuttled around and felt like prisoners. She told the court in Santa Maria, California, that she had not gone to the police because "who would possibly believe" what she was saying.

Prosecutors alleged that the family members were held in order to get them to make a video rebutting a 2003 British television documentary in which Mr Jackson appeared with the boy who is now accusing him of sexual molestation. In that programme Mr Jackson admitted that he let children sleep in his bed but said it was entirely innocent.

In the video made by the woman and her family, she praised Mr Jackson. But she told the court that she had been given a script to follow and was instructed to repeat that "he's a wonderful father. Basically, in summary, that he's a wonderful father ... to my children".

Asked by the prosecutor Ron Zonen if she really believed the things she had said on the film, the woman replied: "I was confused, I was sad, so basically I was acting."

Mr Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a boy, who is now 13 years old. He has pleaded not guilty.

Yesterday was the second day of the woman's testimony. On Wednesday she had been emotional as she answered questions. Yesterday she appeared more collected as she told of being shuttled around by Mr Jackson's associates Frank Tyson and Vince Amen.

But she did burst into tears at one point when the prosecutors showed her four passports belonging to her and her children, which she said she had been forced to obtain when she was told they would be going to Brazil.

"Finally!" the woman exclaimed as Mr Zonen produced the passports. She looked upward, sighed and began to cry. She said she had never been given the documents.

She said that all of her activities during the period from 21 February to 10 March 2003 when she was being "held" by Mr Jackson's team were dictated by his aides, who she said monitored her calls, stood outside her window or her hotel door, and would not let her leave their custody.

"All along this period, I'm trying to reach people to help me because it's evolving into more and more escalation," she said.

At one point, she said, she and the children returned to Mr Jackson's Neverland ranch. She said her two sons and daughter played with Mr Jackson while she spent time at a guest house and rarely went outside. "Did you know where the boys were sleeping?" she was asked. "No," she said.

The woman described a busy period of alleged captivity during which, she said, she and the children were taken to various public offices to obtain birth certificates, passports and visas.

She said they also went shopping for clothes and went to the Laugh Factory club in Hollywood and to a hotel, and ultimately returned to Neverland, where "I just stood in the room. That was the order".

Mr Jackson's lawyers have portrayed the woman as a liar who preys on celebrities.

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