SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Prosecutors seeking access to Michael Jackson (search)'s financial records told the judge in his child molestation trial Friday that the singer may be "on the precipice of bankruptcy."
Assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said during a hearing on motions that prosecutors believe financial problems may have motivated Jackson to take part in an alleged conspiracy to hold his accuser's family captive and try to get them to help rebut a TV documentary that damaged the singer's public image.
Prosecutors believe Jackson may be $300 million in debt, then said the singer may have $400 million in liabilities and that his financial troubles "will all come crashing down on him in December of 2005," Auchincloss said.
"All we are looking for is a concise snapshot of the defendant's financial condition," he said.
The defense is fighting the request.
Jackson attorney Robert Sanger said that Auchincloss' statements, "whether they are accurate or not, and I don't believe they are, are totally irrelevant to this."
Sanger said that what was at issue was Jackson's financial picture in February and March 2003, the time of the alleged conspiracy. He said existing case law should prevent admission of evidence about any possible financial motive.
Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville (search) was hearing motions on Friday. Testimony by Jackson's accuser resumes Monday.
On Thursday, Jackson angered the judge by arriving late. When the trial got under way, the accuser described a night at the Neverland Ranch that he said started off in the arcade and ended in the entertainer's bed.
The 15-year-old boy told jurors that Jackson on that particular night asked him if he ever fondled himself and offered to "do it for me."
"He said if men don't masturbate they can get to a level where they might rape a girl or they can be kind of unstable," the boy said of Jackson, who was in the courtroom.
Jackson — in pajama bottoms, slippers and a suit coat — had arrived in court more than an hour late because of a trip to an emergency room for what his lawyers described as a serious back problem caused by a fall. The judge threatened to have him arrested and to revoke his $3 million bail if he didn't come to court, but set aside the arrest warrant after Jackson arrived.
A Jackson spokeswoman emphasized Friday that the delay was for a physical ailment, "not a mind problem, not an emotional problem."
"He was having problems with his back. He was not intimidated by going in there facing his accuser," Raymone Bain told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Under questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon (search), the boy described how he and Jackson drank alcohol and looked at sex magazines together.
The boy said Jackson molested him twice, both times in the singer's bedroom. He said they both wore pairs of Jackson's pajamas.
The second incident occurred "about a day after" the first encounter, he said. In the second instance, he said, he resisted an attempt by Jackson to place the boy's hand on Jackson's genitals.
The accuser's testimony differed from his 14-year-old brother's description of witnessing two molestations, and it was unclear if they were talking about the same alleged incidents. The brother said Jackson and the boy were in underwear and that the boy was asleep. The brother also said the boy was on top of the bedcovers.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) accused the witness of making up the story.
"After you met with an attorney, you came up with a story that you were masturbated by Michael Jackson," said Mesereau.
"No, I never told him about anything," the boy said, referring to the lawyer.
He acknowledged that he and his family returned to Neverland several times after meeting with attorneys.
Mesereau then attacked the accuser's testimony that the boy did not feel that Jackson had done much for him when the youngster had cancer.
"I didn't see him much," the boy said. "He was my best friend in the world and my best friend was trying to avoid me when I had cancer."
Prosecutors allege the family was held against their will at the ranch and the other locations because Jackson wanted them to help him rebut a documentary in which he held hands with the accuser and talked about sharing his bed with children.
When Mesereau asked if the boy had stayed at Neverland for free, the boy said, "Everybody stays at Neverland for free."
"Well, who do you think pays the bills?" Mesereau said.
At that point, the judge told the attorney and the boy not to argue.
The session ended with Mesereau questioning him about his part in a lawsuit that his family brought against J.C. Penney stores on a claim that they had been abused by security guards.
Mesereau said that in a deposition in the suit, the boy said he was told what to say by lawyers. The boy denied that.
Jurors got only a hint of the strange courtroom drama that began the day.
"Mr. Jackson had a medical problem and it was necessary for me to order his appearance," the judge told jurors, adding that he didn't want the panel to draw any negative inferences from the developments.