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USA MICHAEL JACKSON TRIAL DAY 2
Joshua Gates Weisberg  /  EPA via Sipa Press
Michael Jackson gestures to fans as he arrives Wednesday at the courthouse. Prosecutors are trying to detail his associates' efforts to discredit his accuser's family.
updated 3/2/2005 6:44:36 PM ET 2005-03-02T23:44:36

A public relations specialist testified Wednesday in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial that a Jackson lawyer told her in the aftermath of a damaging documentary that the mother of the boy involved in the case would be made to look like a “crack whore.”

Ann Marie Kite, called to the stand as the prosecution focused on conspiracy allegations, testified about the Jackson camp’s response to fallout from the documentary “Living With Michael Jackson,” which aired on Feb. 6, 2003, and triggered the investigation that led to the charges.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor at his Neverland Ranch in 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive.

Kite said there was alarm in the Jackson camp when the woman and her children abruptly left Neverland in the middle of the night in the aftermath of the documentary.

“It made me very uncomfortable,” she said of being told by Jackson associate Marc Schaffel that the mother and children had left. Jackson’s indictment names Schaffel as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Later the same day, she said, Schaffel told her “the situation had been contained. ... He said they had been brought back to the ranch. I didn’t understand why he would be upset about them leaving the ranch.”

She said she then contacted her ex-boyfriend, David LeGrand, a lawyer for Jackson who had hired her.

“I said, ‘Don’t make me believe that these people were hunted down like dogs and brought back to the ranch,”’ she said.

She said he told her, “I can’t discuss this right now.”

Prosecutors called Kite to support allegations that Jackson and associates held the family against their will at Neverland and other locations throughout February 2003 to force them to help in a public relations campaign to rehabilitate his image.

Defense attorneys say the family was free to leave at any time.

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Kite said she was hired on Feb. 9, 2003, six days after the documentary aired, and was terminated on Feb. 15 with no reason given.

'Designed to shut me up'
A former Jackson lawyer, Mark Geragos, later asked her to sign a confidentiality agreement but she refused, the witness said.

“I believed it would negatively impact me. I believe it was designed to shut me up,” she said.

Kite said that later she contacted her ex-boyfriend again and was told the mother would not be a problem.

Slideshow: Michael Jackson trial “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,” she said.

The conversation was apparently a reference to a videotaped statement the family made on Feb. 19-20, 2003, in which they praised Jackson.

On cross-examination, Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. stressed that Kite never met the singer or most of his associates and dealt with them only by telephone.

“In the six days that you represented Mr. Jackson did you feel you became an expert on Mr. Jackson’s life?” the attorney asked acerbically.

“Oh no, sir,” she said.

Asked about her expertise in representing celebrities, she said the only one she had ever represented was Marshall Sylver, a Las Vegas hypnotist who appeared in informercials.

Earlier, under prosecution questioning, Kite mentioned child molestation allegations that the pop star faced in 1993 but which did not result in charges. The reference was made even though the judge has not yet ruled on whether prosecutors will be allowed to present evidence from 1993.

The prosecution had asked about other public relations problems Jackson faced in February 2003.

Kite listed both the Bashir-produced documentary that triggered the current case, and the leaking of information from the 1993 allegations to the Web site thesmokinggun.com. Kite said the latter allegations involved inappropriate actions with a young boy.

The document released by the Web site was an affidavit from Jackson’s 1993 accuser in which the boy graphically described alleged molestation by the singer.

“In combination with the Bashir documentary I felt it was beyond a disaster,” Kite said.

Mesereau objected to questions about 1993, and the judge cautioned jurors that they were only to consider the testimony as it related to explaining Kite’s motivations and not for the “truth of the matter.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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