Witness claims counter central defence theory…

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The mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser refused an offer of money after the broadcast of the MARTIN BASHIR documentary, a witness has said, damaging the defence’s claims that greed was behind the molestation charges.

Speaking to a Santa Maria court yesterday (March 29), Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip claimed he also received a frantic telephone call from the mother after ’Living With Michael Jackson’ was aired.

During the call, she allegedly told him she and her family were being held against their will at the star’s Neverland ranch.

Masada told the jury, “She was in a state of crying, like ‘Oh my God, they’re holding me here.’ She said, ‘They’re holding me with my kids against my will. I need to get out of here.’”

Iranian born Masada first met Michael Jackson’s accuser Gavin Arvizo at a comedy camp at his club in 1999 and the two became close when the boy was hospitalised for what doctors thought was terminal cancer.

According to Reuters, Masada said that he tried to put Arvizo in contact with Michael Jackson after the boy asked him to set up a meeting with his “idol”.

The singer then apparently phoned inviting the family to his Neverland home.

Masada then said that after the broadcast of the Bashir documentary in 2003, which showed Michael Jackson holding hands with Arvizo, schoolmates began taunting the boy.

It was then that Masada introduced Arvizo’s mother Janet to his attorney in an attempt to prevent further broadcasting of the documentary. According to the witness, it was also at this time he told Janet that he knew someone who wanted to give her substantial amounts of money.

The benefactor was not named in court.

Masada said that Arvizo’s mother rejected the offer saying: “All I need is friends, all I need is prayer. Prayer is all I need. I don't need money."

Prosecutors were seeking the testimony to counter one of the defence’s central theories that Janet saw celebrities as an easy target and made up the molestation accusations in a bid to get money from Michael Jackson.

Also taking the stand yesterday was Cynthia Bell, a flight attendant who served Michael Jackson, his children and the accuser’s family on a flight from Miami to Santa Barbara in February 2003, following the documentary.

Answering to claims that the singer served Arvizo alcohol and licked his head during the flight, Bell acknowledged that she served Michael Jackson white wine in a Diet Coke can but said that the idea was hers. She claimed that the star was a nervous flyer who drank wine to calm his nerves but did not want to be seen drinking in front of the children.

She described Arvizo that he was “altogether loud, obnoxious” and that he screamed at her that his food was not warm. Bell said that Michael Jackson and his family behaved courteously.

Michael Jackson denies ten charges, including child abuse and false imprisonment.

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