September 23, 2009
Posted: 03:35 PM ET
Actor John Travolta, testifying Wednesday against two accused extortionists, publicly confirmed for the first time that his 16-year-old son suffered from autism.
The details on Jett Travolta's illness came out as the "Pulp Fiction" star recounted his desperate effort to revive the dying teen at their Bahamas vacation home.
Travolta testified that he performed CPR on 16-year-old Jett in a fruitless effort to save the youth.
Travolta said a caretaker at the home was already working on the unconscious teen when he came to Jett's aid last Jan. 2.
"I ran downstairs with my wife to help my son," said Travolta, whose spouse – actress Kelly Preston – watched his testimony inside the courtroom in the Bahamas.
The 55-year-old Travolta, who has maintained a low profile in the wake of the tragedy, revealed for the first time that his son was autistic and suffered from "a seizure disorder."
The seizures would strike every five to 10 days, Travolta said, and his son would usually sleep for 12 hours after each 60-second attack.
In the past, the Travoltas said only that their son was afflicted by Kawasaki disease, a rare malady that mostly affects young children.
Critics said the Travoltas would not admit their son was autistic because of their belief in Scientology.
Travolta is the star witness in the case against paramedic Tarino Lightbourne and former Bahamas senator Pleasant Bridgewater. The two were charged with trying to shake down Travolta for $25 million. The pair pleaded innocent.
Police said the extortion was tied to a document related to Jett Travolta's treatment.
Travolta testified that he and Preston were sleeping at the family home in the Bahamas when a nanny woke them up with word of the teen's seizure.
After they came downstairs, the star began providing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as an employee continued with chest compressions.
Travolta arrived at the courthouse in an entourage of SUVs before taking the stand. The family was in the Bahamas to celebrate New Year's before the tragedy.
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