Judge Refuses to Reduce Jacko's $3M Bail

A judge refused to reduce Michael Jackson's (search) $3 million bail on child molestation charges, citing the entertainer's enormous wealth and a one-time alleged plan to take his accuser's family to Brazil, according to a ruling made public Wednesday.

"Defendant has the ability to hire private jets and has frequently traveled beyond the borders of the United States," said Tuesday's written ruling by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.

The judge said a secret grand jury transcript "provides detailed evidence" that Jackson tried to arrange for the family of the boy he is accused of molesting to travel to Brazil, and family statements indicated "this was being done against their will."

Jackson said he would join them in Brazil (search), according to the ruling.

"Assuming this evidence to be true, it demonstrates both the seriousness of the crime and the manner in which defendant handles situations perceived to be difficult," the ruling said.

The judge also noted that Jackson once sought the return of his passport from authorities in order to travel to England (search).

While he never made the trip, Jackson still might seek to leave the country before his Jan. 31 trial and "no amount less than $3 million would provide a financial incentive to return and appear for hearings and trial," Melville wrote.

Jackson's attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Lawyers on both sides are under a gag order.

Jackson, 45, has pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

In seeking the bail reduction, the defense had cited Jackson's charitable contributions, lack of criminal record and ties to Santa Barbara County.

The judge acknowledged Jackson's ties to the community where the case was filed, but added that he is "uniquely a person who has similarly significant ties across the country and around the world."

The judge also noted that after a police search, Jackson once announced he would no longer be living at his Neverland estate (search).

Jackson has no prior criminal record. But the judge said that was "partially offset" by previous allegations of child molestation, a reference to a 1993 criminal investigation that never led to charges.

In the earlier case, Melville said, prosecution "may have been derailed by a private settlement with the alleged victim." Jackson did not acknowledge misconduct but said at the time that he was settling the case because of its potential to harm his career.