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Prosecution Says Jackson Imprisoned Boy

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Jul 28, 2004 | 11:40am EDT

The prosecution in the child-molestation case against Michael Jackson publicly divulged their theory for the first time Tuesday by telling a Santa Barbara county judge that the singer held a teenage boy and his family virtual prisoners at his Neverland ranch and conducted a bizarre campaign to both save his image from ruin and seduce the youth, Reuters reports.

Laying down the timeline in the case, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said Jackson's criminal conduct was triggered by his behavior in the 2003 documentary with British reporter Martin Bashir and that the boy was seduced several weeks after the documentary was broadcast.

In that interview, Jackson is seen holding hands with his young accuser, claiming he thought it was "innocent" to have boys sleep in his bed. Auchincloss said that the documentary was the beginning of the end for the singer. "Michael Jackson's…reputation was completely and utterly ruined (as were) his image, his empire, his career. The documentary brought Jackson's whole world crashing down."

Auchincloss continued, saying a desperate Jackson then set about fixing his image by enticing the youth and his family back to Neverland where they were allegedly forced to film a video praising Jackson.

Auchincloss accuses the pop star of then setting his sights on the boy, cutting him off from his mother and plying him with alcohol to seduce him. "There were late nights, no homework, no school, alcohol…a world of indulgence for children," he said, which led to "an ultimately successful effort to get the victim sleeping in bed with Jackson."

Jackson's lead attorney shot back that the indictment against his client was "absurd" and predicted that the case would ultimately be "laughed out of court" by a jury, Reuters reports. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville did not rule on throwing out the indictment but did postpone the trial for four months until Jan. 31, saying that both sides needed more time to prepare.

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