March 1, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Authorities investigating allegations of child molestation against Michael Jackson found no DNA from his accuser when they searched the pop star's bedroom, his attorney told the jury Tuesday.
The lack of such evidence shows the molestation claims are false, Thomas Mesereau Jr. said as he continued an opening statement countering the case laid out by District Attorney Tom Sneddon on Monday.
The trial was expected to move into the testimony later in the day, with the prosecution calling British journalist Martin Bashir. He made the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson held hands with the then-13-year-old boy who eventually accused him and in which the pop star said he let children sleep in his bed.
Bashir, who has fought the prosecution's plan to put him on the stand, arrived at court accompanied by lawyers.
Mesereau also attacked the credibility of the accuser's mother and depicted the alleged victim, now 15, and his brother as troublemakers while at Jackson's Neverland ranch, where the molestation allegedly occurred.
The attorney said the mother was using the criminal charges to build a civil case in order to get a financial payoff.
Mesereau said the woman's attorney, Larry Feldman, had a lunch with CNN program host Larry King in which Feldman said of the woman, "She wants money."
Feldman also represented a boy who accused Jackson of molestation in 1993. That boy received a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson and no charges were filed in that matter.
The defense attorney also addressed allegations that Jackson showed sexually explicit images and gave alcohol to his accuser and his brother.
Mesereau said the children were sometimes "out of control" at Neverland and read Jackson's magazines and broke into his alcohol without his permission.
"Mr. Jackson will freely admit that he does read girlie magazines from time to time," Mesereau said. "He absolutely does not show them to children."
In his opening statement, Sneddon said Jackson gave his accuser alcohol to make him more susceptible to molestation, and explicit magazines were found with the accuser's fingerprints and that one magazine had the fingerprints of Jackson and the accuser.
Mesereau offered a possible explanation for that, saying Jackson once caught the boy reading his magazines and took them away and locked them in a briefcase.
The boys also memorized security codes and codes used to start amusement park rides at Neverland, so they had the run of the ranch when Jackson was away and could get into Jackson's bedroom without permission, Mesereau said.
At one point a ride operator found the boys at the top of a Ferris Wheel they had started, and they were throwing things at elephants in Jackson's zoo and at people, Mesereau said.
Of the alcohol allegations, Mesereau said the boys "were caught intoxicated, they were caught with bottles. Mr. Jackson was nowhere around."
On Monday, the prosecutor detailed a case alleging that Jackson molested the boy after a monthlong conspiracy to hold the boy's family captive and force them to help rehabilitate Jackson's image, which had been tarnished by the documentary.
Mesereau responded that it was "absurd" to think Jackson would molest the boy soon after the airing of the documentary, which drew widespread news coverage and an investigation by Los Angeles County officials because of Jackson's on-air admission that he has shared his bed with children.
"Can you imagine a more absurd time for it to ever happen?" Mesereau said.
The defense attorney said the boy's mother had manipulated her son to lie about Jackson in a bid to get his money, and that she has a history of using her children to try to dupe celebrities including Jay Leno, Mike Tyson and Jim Carrey. Only Jackson had the "naivete" to believe the family's appeals, Mesereau said.
Sneddon said Jackson spent weeks encouraging the boy to curse, giving him alcohol, and showing him sexually explicit images to make him more receptive to improper touching.
"The private world of Michael Jackson will show that instead of reading them Peter Pan, he's showing them sexually explicit magazines. ... Instead of cookies and milk, you can substitute wine, vodka and bourbon."