Michael Jackson's lawyers arranged a smear campaign against the family of his teenager accuser, the troubled singer's former public relations executive claimed in a California court yesterday (02MAR05).
Las Vegas PR ANN MARIE KITE, who worked for Jackson for only six days in February 2003, alleges one of Jackson's attorneys said they would portray JANET ARVIZO - now known as Janet Jackson following her 2004 marriage - as a "crack whore" through the media.
Kite claims she was hired to handle the superstar's crisis management six days after broadcaster Martin Bashir's damning documentary LIVING WITH MICHAEL JACKSON was aired in Britain (03FEB03).
Jackson is fighting 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent, and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion in the Santa Maria trial.
Kite told the court Jackson's associates were alarmed after Arvizo, her 13-year-old son GAVIN and other son STAR, suddenly left Jackson's California Neverland Ranch in the middle of the night, only days after the broadcast.
Kite says Jackson aide MARC SCHAFFEL - who is named as an indicted co-conspirator - told her "the situation had been contained. He said they had been brought back to ranch. I didn't understand why we would be upset about them leaving the ranch."
Prosecutors allege Jackson and his associates held the Arvizo family against their will at the ranch in order to force them to help the singer repair his public image following the documentary.
Kite claims she contacted her ex-boyfriend DAVID LeGRAND, a lawyer for Jackson who had employed her: "He said that they no longer had to worry about (the mother) because they had her on tape and they were going to make her look like a crack whore."
Kite went on to refuse Jackson's then-attorney MARK GERAGOS' requests to sign a confidentiality agreement, because "I believe it was designed to shut me up".
During cross-examination, Jackson's lawyer THOMAS MESEREAU JR stressed Kite had never met the singer, most of his associates or the Arvizo family.
Kite agreed some of Jackson's aides, including Schaffel and RONALD KONITZER, were not acting in his best interests.
Kite replied, "Not in those words... Sony was waiting for the opportunity to get the Sony catalogue back."
The fourth day of the trial continues today (04MAR05).03/03/2005 09:56