SOLVANG, Calif. (AP) – Michael Jackson was taken to an emergency room Sunday for treatment of a back problem that has plagued him throughout his molestation trial, a spokeswoman said.

Jackson, accompanied by a bodyguard, arrived at the Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital about five miles from his Neverland ranch at about 2:30 p.m., spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said.

“Mr. Jackson’s back has spurred up on him again,” Bain said. “It’s pretty serious.”

Bain said stress contributed to the entertainer’s back problem.

“He’s under a tremendous amount of stress right now,” she said at an impromptu news conference outside the hospital.

“Other than his back, he is doing fine.”

Jackson’s health has been an issue throughout the trial. The 46-year-old pop star appeared gaunt in recent days, and officials at the hospital disclosed Friday that he had visited the emergency room overnight.

Jackson’s case was twice previously interrupted by hospital visits, once for treatment of flu symptoms. He first reported a back problem in early March, when he went to an emergency room on one of the days his accuser took the stand. Jackson arrived late, dressed in pajama bottoms, after the judge ordered him to come to court.

Bain said Jackson planned to return to his family at Neverland when he is released from the hospital to wait for the verdict.

“His mother is a rock of Gibraltar. So is his father,” she said.

AP-ES-06-05-05 1905EDT

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