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Alleged kidnap victim testifies that he had close ties to Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal.

A man who was allegedly kidnapped and beaten after claiming to possess a sex tape of former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal said he had several connections to the NBA star.

Testifying in an L.A. court on Monday, Robert Ross said O'Neal had been to his home several times in the last few years. He also said he did business with O'Neal and dated his ex-wife, according to prosecutors.

Ross was allegedly abducted by a group of gang members from inside a Bentley along the Sunset Strip on the night of the 2008 Grammy Awards. The suspects were attempting to retrieve a tape purportedly showing O'Neal involved in sex with other women, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.

Prosecutors stress that they have no evidence that a sex tape exists and said O'Neal is not involved in the case.

Ladell Rowles, who prosecutors said was the leader of the Main Street Mafia Crips gang, is accused in a criminal complaint filed in February of directing members to kidnap, beat and rob the victim. Details of the case became public in the last few days when a preliminary hearing got underway in L.A. court. 

Rowles and his six co-defendants face charges that include kidnapping to commit another crime, second-degree robbery, assault with a firearm and conspiracy.

Ross testified that he was a former member of the Main Street gang who later became a music promoter. He said he became friends with O'Neal and tried to bring musical acts to the NBA star's record label, prosecutors said.

Ross eventually got into a financial dispute with O'Neal's recording firm over one of the acts and claimed he possessed the sex tape.


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-- Andrew Blankstein


Photo: Shaquille O'Neal in 2004. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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