SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Michael Jackson committed "exploitation and sexual abuse," and his only defense has been to attack the credibility of his accuser's mother, a prosecutor said Thursday as closing arguments began.
"This case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity," Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen said.
He said the defense case was "entirely limited" to attacks on the credibility of the boy's mother, and the defense lawyers had failed to deliver on promises made during opening statements.
Zonen told jurors at the outset that his argument would take a few hours. Defense attorneys were then expected to begin their closing. The jury has been told it will get the case on Friday.
Zonen read jurors a line from Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s opening statement in which the lawyer said, "I think an opening statement is a contract."
He said Mesereau had invited jurors to judge him on the basis of whether he kept the promises when the testimony was presented, and he listed a series of alleged inconsistencies.
Zonen said Mesereau claimed that the mother was involved in shakedowns of several celebrities including comedians George Lopez and Jay Leno. But he said Lopez had criticized the boy's father - not the mother, in his testimony and Leno testified that the boy may have called him but he never remembered being asked for money.
Zonen also said Mesereau had told jurors he would show that the mother asked Mike Tyson, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey for money.
"Did you see any of them come in here?" Zonen said. "There's no evidence she received anything from the three of them."
The prosecutor acknowledged that the mother fraudulently underreported income on an application for welfare. He said she did it when she had separated from her husband and had three children to care for.
"That was a mistake. It was fraud. She shouldn't have done it," Zonen said. "That was the only thing she's done in her life that she clearly shouldn't have done."
Jackson's arrival at court a short time earlier was met by a contingent of fans that has been growing as the case nears its end. Jackson, in a dark coat and plaid vest, acknowledged them with a wave.
The 46-year-old singer is charged with molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in February or March 2003. He is accused of plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson appeared holding hands with the boy as he talked of allowing children into his bed for what he said were innocent sleepovers.
"It's a very difficult situation to sit in there and know your life is in the balance," Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said afterward.
The trial began with jury selection Jan. 31. Opening statements began Feb. 28.
Earlier Wednesday, Jackson looked straight ahead as Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville read a long list of jury instructions hammered out with prosecuting and defense attorneys.
Among other things, he told the jurors they may consider a lesser charge of "furnishing alcohol to a minor," a misdemeanor, in addition to the original charge of providing alcohol for the purpose of molestation.
The judge paused at one point to determine if the jurors were paying attention.
"You know, I read to my wife at night so she'll go to sleep. Am I having that effect here?" he said.