The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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King of Pop comes under pauper cloud

Santa Maria (California), March 12 (Reuters): Michael Jackson is more than $300 million in debt and faces a looming financial crisis brought on by his 'spendaholic' ways, a prosecutor in the entertainer's child molestation case said today.

'We have reason to believe that Jackson is on the precipice of bankruptcy,' Santa Barbara county deputy district attorney Gordon Auchincloss said in a court hearing on whether Jackson's finances can be introduced as evidence at his trial. 'He is in debt to the tune of over $300 million.'

Auchincloss, saying Jackson was 'a spendaholic' who 'had an insatiable appetite for money,' sought access for prosecutors to the pop star's financial records.

Prosecutors argue that the deteriorating state of Jackson's finances explains why his camp flew into a panic over public backlash from a controversial 2003 documentary in which he described his habit of sharing his bedroom with boys.

The same documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir includes footage of Jackson holding hands and nuzzling with the then 13-year-old boy who told jurors this week that two liquor-laced nights at Neverland ended in Jackson's bed where the 46-year-old singer masturbated him.

Prosecutors claim that Jackson and his aides had detained the boy's family in a bid to coerce them into making a rebuttal video that would help shore up the crumbling image of the self-styled 'King of Pop' and preserve his earning ability.

Santa Barbara county superior court Judge Rodney Melville did not rule on the motion. But he told lawyers on both sides to narrow their discussion of what financial evidence might be admitted in court.

Melville also said he would consider an unusual request from Jackson's lawyers that would allow the pop icon to skirt the sweeping gag order in the case and make a rebuttal video in a bid to make money.

Jackson's lawyers accused prosecutors of playing to the media on a day when jurors were out of the court room, but conceded that the 46-year-old entertainer had liquidity problems.

'Mr Auchincloss just loves to have sound bites for the media,' defence attorney Robert Sanger said.

Jackson's assets, Sanger said, were worth more than prosecutors estimated, but he conceded 'liquidity from time to time may be a problem.'

Jackson's lawyers returned to the issue of a rebuttal video on Friday.

'We'd like to make a lot of money from these rebuttal programmes,' lawyer Brian Oxman told Melville, saying Jackson's team would come back with an'extensive request' to exempt the entertainer from the court order against speaking out about the case.

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