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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 08:03 GMT
Jackson was 'victim of own team'
Michael Jackson arrives at court 02/03/05
Michael Jackson has strenuously denied the 10 charges
A prosecution witness has told Michael Jackson's child abuse trial the pop star became a victim of the aides who were supposed to serve him.

Under heavy questioning by Mr Jackson's defence lawyer, PR expert Ann Kite said she felt the aides did not have Jackson's interests at heart.

She earlier told the court she feared Mr Jackson's associates had launched a smear campaign against his accusers.

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

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

Ms Kite said a TV documentary at the heart of the case was an "absolute disaster".

She told the court in the Californian town of Santa Maria she was hired to "crisis manage" the fallout after the programme was broadcast on television in 2003.

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

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".

Mr Jackson's defence 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.

Under cross-examination by Mr Jackson's defence lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, she said she could not discuss strategy with anyone in his team "because they all had different agendas".

She also admitted having told police she felt Jackson was being "slammed" by his team.

She told the court she had learnt that one of Jackson's aides may have been an agent of a record company, planted in order to loosen his control over a music catalogue worth millions of dollars.

'Concern' for family

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.

Martin Bashir

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

Ms Kite told the court she had later asked 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.

Ms Kite began to work for Mr Jackson in February 2003, after the controversial film was televised in the US and Europe.

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

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".

See the scenes outside the Santa Maria courtroom

Michael Jackson on trial

Michael Jackson Jackson show
How the star's style has changed during lengthy trial








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