Jackson accused of abuse of young cancer patient.
Opening statements began after Superior Court Judge Rodney S Melville read the indictment to the jury, revealing the names of five unindicted alleged co-conspirators. All are Jackson employees.
The judge also read 28 overt acts allegedly committed in a conspiracy surrounding the alleged molestation of the boy, a cancer patient, at Jackson's Neverland ranch and a purported attempt to keep his family silent.
Sneddon referred to the boy by name after telling the court it would be impossible to proceed without using the real names of the child and his family.
Sneddon, Santa Barbara County's top prosecutor, told the jury that the case was about Jackson's 'desperate attempt' to salvage his career after the airing of the British television documentary Living With Michael Jackson, in which the pop star is seen holding hands with the boy and saying he allows children to sleep in his bed.
Jackson had intended to exploit the boy by using the documentary to demonstrate how the singer helped him through his cancer, Sneddon said.
He said Jackson told him what to say.
'He never told the boy that this video was anything other than an audition,' Sneddon said.
Sneddon said 'Jackson's world was rocked' when the documentary aired in early 2003 and backfired by creating negative publicity. At that point, he said, Jackson's team tried to get the boy and his family to rebut it.
The prosecutor said the molestation occurred after those events, in February or March 2003, when the boy was 13. He described two specific incidents of molestation.
The defence opening statement was to follow the prosecution's presentation.
The defence has cast Jackson as the target of a money-hungry mother who coached her son to spin stories when it looked like their celebrity benefactor would cut them off.
The defence will present evidence that the mother has sued others in the past claiming abuse.
Jackson denies molesting a 13-year-old boy, plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.