Michael Jackson kidnapped his teen accuser GAVIN ARVIZO and his family to prevent an expensive lawsuit which he feared would damage his crumbling financial empire, the singer's child molestation trial heard on Monday (02MAY05).

Forensic accountant ROSS O'BRYAN testified at the Santa Maria, California court that the BAD star was facing a cash crisis in February 2003, when journalist Martin Bashir's damaging LIVING WITH MICHAEL JACKSON documentary aired.

O'Bryan presented jurors with memos from Jackson's financial advisors, warning him his spending habits had spiralled out of control. He also showed a balance sheet showing Jackson's overall debt had rise to approximately $224 million (GBP118 million) by February (03).

And prosecutors alleged Jackson held the Arvizo family captive in California to persuade them to take part in a video rebutting Bashir's documentary, in a desperate bid to avoid a costly trial.

But former prosecutor CRAIG SMITH said after the trial it was "too big a jump in logic" to claim Jackson's money woes led to a kidnap plot.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

The trial continues.

04/05/2005 03:07