January 20, 2005
LOS ANGELES - Attorneys defending Michael Jackson in his child molestation case want the accuser and his family referred to in court by their names or as "complaining witnesses" - not as "victims."
Jackson himself is getting a chance to respond in a TV interview to leaked grand jury transcripts in which the boy describes how the entertainer allegedly molested him.
In a motion released Wednesday, the pop star's attorneys ask that the judge bar the district attorney from saying he represents "'the people' in a manner that implies that he represents the jury against the defendant." It also requests that the accuser not be called a "victim" in court; a similar motion was filed by Kobe Bryant's lawyers in his sexual assault case in Colorado.
"This is not a case where the only issue is the identity and the complaining witnesses are victims regardless of the identity of the perpetrator," the Jackson defense motion said. "Here, the jury is being asked to decide whether or not the events alleged by the complaining witnesses occurred at all."
The motion will be considered at a Jan. 28 hearing
Also Wednesday, Fox News confirmed that Jackson has taped an interview with talk-show host Geraldo Rivera during which he read a statement, approved by Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville, about leaked grand jury transcripts. The statement was included in a larger interview unrelated to Jackson's Jan. 31 trial, and it was not known when the interview would air, the network said.
ABC News quoted from the transcripts last week in reports on its Web site, "Good Morning America" and "Primetime Live." According to the network, the accuser told the grand jury graphic details, including that Jackson closed his eyes tightly while molesting him.
Jackson, 46, was indicted in April on multiple counts of molestation and a count of conspiracy involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 31.
His attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said in a court-approved statement last week that the defense strongly objected to the leak of sealed testimony before the grand jury, which he called a "one-sided proceeding."
"The witnesses who testified before the grand jury were never subjected to cross-examination or impeachment by the defense," he said.
Grand jury transcripts normally are made public in California 10 days after they're received by a defendant. Melville, however, has kept the Jackson transcripts sealed, along with most other documents in the case.