News and Information

Jackson trial to focus on ranch
March 3, 2005

Michael Jackson has strenuously denied the 10 charges
Michael Jackson's child abuse trial is expected to hear evidence on Thursday about the raids on the pop star's Neverland ranch that led to his arrest.
The estate in the hills above Santa Barbara in California was searched by police in November 2003 and again in December last year.

Prosecutors at the trial in Santa Maria have alleged that it housed a "private world" of alcohol and pornography.

Mr Jackson, 46, denies 10 charges of child abuse and false imprisonment.

If convicted, he could face up to 21 years in prison.

On Wednesday, prosecution witness Ann Kite, a publicist hired to rescue Mr Jackson's reputation, told the court that the singer became a victim of the aides who were supposed to serve him.

Ms Kite said her task was to "crisis manage" the fallout from a TV documentary at the heart of the case, which she described as an "absolute disaster".

I said: 'Don't make me believe that these people were hunted down like dogs and brought back to the ranch'

Ann Kite

Ms Kite suggested Mr Jackson's associates had been intent on launching a smear campaign against the accuser's family after the airing of Martin Bashir's film Living with Michael Jackson.

She told the court that in the aftermath of the broadcast, a Jackson lawyer had told her the boy's mother would be made to look like a "crack whore".

The documentary sparked a media storm and the subsequent investigation into Mr Jackson's relationship with the boy.

Jurors saw the film, in which the pop star held hands with the alleged abuse victim and admitted sharing his bed with children, on Tuesday.


Mr Jackson's defence lawyer questioned Ms Kite's credibility, pointing out that she worked for the singer's team for less than a week before being fired, and had never met or spoken to the star.

Ms Kite said she received a phone call on 13 February 2003 from a Jackson associate, Marc Schaffel, who said the boy and his family had abruptly left the Neverland ranch where they had been staying.

The opening statements
Martin Bashir profile

Soon afterwards, Mr Schaffel allegedly told her the situation had been "contained".

Ms Kite told the court she had later asked Mr Jackson's lawyer, David LeGrand, what had happened.

"I said: 'Don't make me believe that these people were hunted down like dogs and brought back to the ranch'," she said.

In the prosecution's opening statement on Monday, Tom Sneddon told the court that Mr Jackson had shown the boy porn and plied him with wine, in order to molest him.

The defence replied that the "charges are fictitious, they are bogus and they never happened".


    Support Caprivi Freedom
Fill out the form below to become a member of this site and receive our regular newsletter.

First Name
Last Name