A California judge on Monday refused to reduce Michael Jackson’s $3 million bail pending his trial on child molestation charges, saying the pop star could clearly afford that amount.
Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau asked Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville during a May 28 hearing to reduce the singer’s bail, saying it was “grossly excessive” compared to other defendants and suggesting $70,000.
Prosecutors objected, saying that Jackson was a potential flight risk and could easily spend $70,000 “in a weekend in Las Vegas.”
Melville, in a two-page written ruling, agreed that Jackson’s bail exceeded the guidelines for Santa Barbara County.
But, said Melville: “No evidence has been presented and no argument made to suggest that the bail amount represents a financial hardship for defendant.”
The moonwalking entertainer was indicted in April on charges of committing lewd acts on a boy under the age of 14 as well as child abduction, extortion and false imprisonment.
The judge noted that Jackson had twice posted the $3 million bail “without objection or apparent difficulty” — once after his arrest last November and again after he was indicted.
“While there has been no significant issue with regard to the defendant’s appearance at scheduled court events, it continues to appear to the court that a cognizable financial incentive to do so should be in place,” Melville wrote.
Though Melville set a Sept. 13 trial date for Jackson, he conceded that it may be difficult to begin jury selection in the sensational case that soon.