A travel agent testifying under immunity in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial said Tuesday she booked a flight to Brazil for the family of the pop star’s accuser at the request of one of the singer’s business associates.
Cynthia Montgomery testified that she arranged a $15,000 flight to Sao Paulo at the request of Marc Schaffel, who is named by prosecutors as one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the Jackson case.
Prosecutors contend Jackson’s associates planned to keep the family in Brazil indefinitely in the aftermath of the Feb. 6, 2003, airing of the TV documentary “Living With Michael Jackson.” Jackson appeared with his accuser in the documentary and said he allowed children to sleep in his bed, although he asserted it was non-sexual.
Montgomery was granted immunity because the FBI is investigating her in relation to the secret videotaping of Jackson and former attorney Mark Geragos during a charter jet flight she booked. The charter flight brought Jackson from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara where he surrendered to authorities on child molestation charges.
Montgomery said she booked the accuser’s family on a flight scheduled to depart for Brazil on March 1, 2003.
She said Schaffel asked her to book a one-way trip but she had to arrange a round-trip flight because Americans are not allowed to enter Brazil with one-way tickets. She said she arbitrarily chose a return date.
The family never made the flight and prosecutors did not discuss the reason why in court.
Mother: Efforts to escapeThe accuser’s mother has testified that she orchestrated her family’s escape from Jackson’s associates by claiming her children had to visit their grandparents before they could leave for Brazil. The mother has said the family left Jackson’s Neverland estate for the last time on March 12, 2003.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. immediately noted that Montgomery was testifying under immunity granted by Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville.
The travel agent’s testimony came a day after Mesereau announced that one member of the defense team, Brian Oxman, was no longer on the case. No explanation was given.
Also Monday, Melville overruled defense objections and said he will allow Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe to testify as a prosecution witness. Prosecutors want Rowe, the mother of two of his three children, to tell jurors that she was compelled to appear on a videotape praising Jackson as a good father and a humanitarian.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, giving the boy alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to get them to rebut the documentary.