Promoter links Shaquille O'Neal sex tape to kidnapping

LOS ANGELES Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:05pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A music promoter who was kidnapped and robbed in 2008 has told a court that his assailants demanded return of a sex tape featuring NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Robert Ross also testified during a preliminary hearing in the case that he told O'Neal about the tape during a business dispute some two weeks before his abduction, Los Angeles County District Attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

"What the victim testified to is that while he was being beaten they asked for the tape back," Robison said.

O'Neal, who retired from pro basketball this year after 19 seasons in the NBA, is not charged in the case or named in a criminal complaint filed earlier this year against seven defendants.

Representatives for the 39-year-old former star athlete, who has also released four rap albums and starred in a pair of reality TV shows, did not return calls seeking comment.

The criminal complaint charges the seven men, who are all reputed members of the Main Street Mafia Crips gang, with abducting Ross at gun point on February 11, 2008.

The men then ordered him to drive his Rolls Royce to the home of defendant Ladell Rowles, who prosecutors say is a leader of the gang, where he was beaten and robbed of a Rolex watch, diamond jewelry and $15,000 in cash.

Ross took the witness stand on Monday in the first day of the preliminary hearing in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge will determine if there is enough evidence to order that the defendants stand trial.

Rowles and his six co-defendants are charged with kidnapping, robbery, assault with a firearm and conspiracy.

The preliminary hearing has been recessed until July 6.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb. Edited by Peter Bohan)

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