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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Jackson 'enticed boy to his home'
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has denied all the charges
Michael Jackson kept the boy at the heart of his molestation case a virtual prisoner at his Neverland ranch to help the star's case, prosecutors have said.

At a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, the prosecution alleged Mr Jackson took his accuser to his home, forcing him to record a video praising the pop singer.

They added Neverland "was designed to entice and attack children".

But Mr Jackson's defence team said claims were "absurd". The star's trial was delayed four months until January.

Mr Jackson has pleaded not guilty to charges that include sexually abusing a child, conspiracy to abduct a child, false imprisonment and extortion.

A judge in California has delayed the trial until the end of January next year.

'Imprisonment'

The judge granted Mr Jackson's lawyers' request, saying there was an enormous amount of material to be examined.

Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss was speaking at a pre-trial hearing in Santa Maria, California.

The full trial has been due to start on 13 September, but it will now be delayed until 31 January.

"It [the ranch] is an isolated and gated area where Michael Jackson could carry out his plans [of] false imprisonment, child abduction and extortion," Mr Auchincloss said.

The case is an effort to take down a major celebrity
Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau
And it was inside the ranch - about 100 miles (160km) north of Los Angeles - that Mr Jackson seduced a young teenage boy now at the centre of the case, the prosecutor claimed.

He alleged that the seduction took place after a controversial British television documentary was aired in February 2003.

In the documentary, Living with Michael Jackson, the singer said he saw nothing wrong with letting children sleep in his bedroom.

Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss
Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss is acting for the prosecution
"The fact he rationalised his conduct on national TV was his downfall. He ignited a fireball of criticism that made him an object of international loathing and scorn," Mr Auchincloss said.

The prosecutor argued that after the broadcast Mr Jackson decided to lure the boy and his family to come stay at his Neverland ranch to "quell the outrage".

The singer also decided that he needed the alleged victim to say on tape that nothing inappropriate happened, the prosecutor added.

He went on by saying that Mr Jackson enticed the boy into thinking the singer was "the coolest guy in the world", then imprisoned him and his family at the ranch.

The prosecutor added that Mr Jackson also enticed the teenager with alcohol.

'Absurd' claims

Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau dismissed the entire prosecution case and demanded dismissal of all charges.

"The idea that they [the boy's family] were imprisoned and force to fly on private jets to Florida, to socialise with celebrities... is absurd on its face. It would be laughed out of court by a jury."

He also accused the prosecution of bullying witnesses and using improper expert testimony.

The abuse was claimed to have taken place between 7 February and 10 March 2003 and the alleged victim was identified only as "John Doe".

Mr Jackson, 45, has denied four counts of lewd acts involving a minor, one count involving an attempted lewd act upon a child and four counts of administering alcohol to a minor.




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