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Travel agent takes stand in Jackson trial

Alleges a request to send accuser's family to Brazil

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A travel agent testified in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial yesterday that she was asked to arrange a one-way trip to Brazil for the singer's accuser and his family, but that the journey was abruptly canceled.

The testimony by Cynthia Montgomery was offered to support a prosecution contention that Jackson was planning to kidnap the accuser and his family and send them to Brazil for an indefinite period after a damaging February 2003 documentary in which the singer said he let children sleep in his bed.

Montgomery said all the orders for the planned March 1, 2003, flight were given to her by Jackson associate Marc Schaffel, who is among the Jackson associates named by prosecutors as unindicted coconspirators.

At the last minute, Montgomery said, the travel plans were canceled by Schaffel, who merely told her ''his plans had changed."

Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old youth in February or March 2003, giving him alcohol, and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the TV documentary ''Living With Michael Jackson."

The 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 lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. asked Montgomery, ''You never spoke to Mr. Jackson about any trip to Brazil at any time, is that correct?"

''That's correct," she said.

Montgomery, who testified under a grant of immunity, also acknowledged that she is at the center of a controversy involving the secret taping of Jackson and his former lawyer Mark Geragos during a charter flight the pop star took to Santa Barbara to surrender on the molestation charges on Nov. 20, 2003.

She said she has been interviewed by the FBI and acknow--ledged that she is suing Jackson and the singer is suing her over the incident. But she insisted she knew nothing of the taping until after it happened.

The FBI has said it is investigating the taping to determine whether there was a violation of federal law by surreptitious interception of communications.

On cross-examination, Mesereau immediately noted that Montgomery was testifying under immunity and quizzed her about the charter flight.

Jackson's former wife, Deborah Rowe is expected to testify this week that Jackson and his aides pressured her into making favorable statements about the pop star in a 2003 video rebutting the TV documentary.

Santa Barbara Senior Deputy District Attorney Ronald Zonen said Rowe would testify that she was told that if she said positive things about Jackson during the taping she would be allowed to have visitation rights with the couple's two children, Prince Michael, now 8, and Paris, now 7.

That testimony would help corroborate testimony from the mother of Jackson's teenage accuser, who also said she was bullied into following a script for the video, Zonen said.

Jackson lawyer Robert Sanger sought to block Rowe's testimony, arguing that it was a ''reach" by the prosecution and irrelevant to the trial. He said Rowe did not follow a script.

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