Dressed in a charcoal gray suit and accompanied by wife Kelly Preston, the actor, 55, entered a Nassau courtroom in the morning to continue testimony in the case, in which prosecutors have accused former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater and paramedic Tarino Lightbourn of plotting to extort $25 million from Travolta in return for not making public a document relating to Jett’s treatment. The pair have pleaded not guilty.
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v During direct examination, Travolta testified that he had first heard about the alleged extortion attempt from Ronald Zupancic, a friend and employee of the actor. “[Zupancic] was upset. He said that there was a threat and a demand of money that Mr. McDermott, my attorney, had alerted him to with a release paper that I had signed in the Bahamas,” said Travolta.
“I spoke to my attorney, and he needed to investigate the matter. I gave him permission to go to the authorities based on the information he gave me,” Travolta also said.
Quietly nervous and at times clasping his hands together, the star told prosecutor Bernard Turner that a demand was made for a sum of $25 million in regard to the document, which released the paramedics from liability for not transporting the patient to a hospital. (Later that morning, the decision was made to take Jett to the hospital.)
Turner then asked what would happen if Travolta did not meet their demands.
“If it were not met, then certain stories connected to that document would be sold to the press,” replied Travolta. “They were stories that implied that the death of my son was intentional – that I was culpable in some way.”
Vouch for Accuracy
Cross-examination followed, with attorney Murrio Ducille – who is representing Bridgewater – asking Travolta if he knew the former Bahamian senator.
“Do I know her? No,” replied Travolta, who added that Bridgewater did not issue a direct demand or threat to him.
“So you acted based on what you were told by Mr. Zupancic?” asked Ducille.
“Yes,” replied Travolta.
“So you really could not vouch for the accuracy of what he told you?” asked Ducille.
“No,” replied Travolta.
A similar cross-examination of Travolta by Lightbourn’s attorney then followed, in which Travolta acknowledged that “no direct demand” had been made to him for the $25 million but that he believed his advisors and that the information they had given him had been truthful.
At one point, Judge Anita Allen spoke up, asking Travolta, “Can you say categorically that what was said to you is what was said?”
“Categorically?” responded Travolta. “No.”
• Reporting by SIOBHAN MORRISSEY