Published April 11, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The mother of a boy who received a $20 million settlement from Michael Jackson (search) in the famous 1993 child molestation case against the pop star testified Monday that she initially refused to let her son sleep in the singer's bed, but relented when a "sobbing and crying" Jackson made another request.
June Chandler's (search) testimony set the stage for prosecutors to call the mother of the boy now accusing Jackson of molestation in a scenario that virtually duplicates the situation described by the mother Monday.
At day's end, Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen told the court that prosecutors might call the current accuser's mother as early as Tuesday, after some legal matters regarding her testimony were resolved.
Chandler testified that even though she once forbade Jackson from sharing a bed with her son, after she relented the two developed a relationship that was "getting out of control."
When her son started staying at Jackson's Neverland ranch, Chandler told him he couldn't stay over in the pop star's bedroom.
Later, on a trip to Las Vegas, she, the boy and the boy's brother stayed in Jackson's suite at the Mirage hotel, she said. On the second night, Jackson tearfully asked why the boy could not sleep in Jackson's bed, the mother testified.
"He was sobbing and crying, shaking and trembling," she said. "He said, 'You don't trust me? We're a family. ... (The boy) is having fun. Why can't he sleep in my bed? There's nothing wrong. There's nothing going on.'"
She said she then allowed her son to sleep in Jackson's bed for two nights. The day after she relented, Chandler said, Jackson gave her a gold Cartier bracelet.
Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) suggested on cross-examination that Jackson countersued the family for "extortion," but the woman said she knew nothing about it and testified they never paid Jackson any money.
The woman said her son is now 25 and she hasn't spoken to him in 11 years. Asked if that was by her choice, she said no. Her son, who did not cooperate with a law enforcement investigation after receiving the multimillion-dollar settlement, has refused to testify in Jackson's current prosecution.
After the Las Vegas incident, the boy was constantly with Jackson, and the pop star even came to the family's Santa Monica home and stayed there with the boy, the mother said.
"Did Mr. Jackson ever spend nights at your residence?" asked District Attorney Tom Sneddon (search).
"Yes ... more than 30 times," she said.
"And where would he stay?" asked Sneddon.
"In (my son's) bedroom," she said.
She said they made trips to Disney World in Florida in May 1993 and later to Monaco, where she and her daughter went on a shopping spree funded by the star.
So close was the relationship, she said, that when she and her children flew to New York to attend a family wedding, she received word from Jackson's secretary that he would be joining them. She said he arrived after the wedding and stayed at the same hotel.
Eventually, she said, her brother raised concerns about the relationship and she too became concerned.
She said there was another confrontation with Jackson and "he was upset that I wanted my son back. I didn't like the situation. It was getting out of control."
That June, she said, Jackson gave her a necklace, a pair of earrings and a ring. He later gave her a $7,000 gift certificate to a West Hollywood boutique, the woman said.
On cross-examination, she also denied Mesereau's suggestion that she took the molestation allegations to a lawyer before going to police. She said she went to child welfare authorities, where her son made a report to officers working there on Aug. 7, 1993.
Mesereau noted that when she was first interviewed by Los Angeles County prosecutors in 1993 she talked of the family's relationship with Jackson and said, "Michael Jackson wasn't the superstar. He was a regular person. We couldn't believe how nice he was."
She also told them that "when Michael Jackson is not working, he's a lonely person," Mesereau said.
Prosecutors called the woman to try to show that Jackson has a history of improper behavior toward young boys. No charges were ever filed against Jackson as result of the 1993 accusations.
Earlier Monday, another witness surprised the prosecution by saying he did not remember seeing the pop star lick the same boy's head during a long flight in the early 1990s, but he later reversed himself and said it must have happened after being confronted with an e-mail he wrote.
Former Jackson publicist Bob Jones (search) initially testified that "I don't recall ever seeing any head licking" by Jackson on the flight from Paris to Los Angeles.
Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss (search) then read a proposed passage from a book Jones is writing that stated that Jackson and the boy were cooing and kissing and that Jackson licked the boy's head.
"They were holding each other tightly, almost in a romantic sense," the passage said.
Prosecutors claim Jackson also licked the head of a boy who now accuses Jackson of molesting him in early 2003.
Under cross-examination by Mesereau, Jones said that passages he writes are completed by a co-writer and then reviewed. Jones said he had not reviewed the passage and it was inaccurate.
But the prosecutor then confronted Jones with an e-mail he sent to the co-writer in which he described Jackson licking the boy on the head. "If it was in my e-mail, I'm taking responsibility for my e-mail," Jones finally testified.
Jones was only the most recent prosecution witness to surprise prosecutors. For example, former Jackson former house manager Jesus Salas (search) had told investigators that he brought wine to Jackson and several boys, but said on the stand that he had just remembered that he brought soda as well as wine.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, plying the boy with alcohol, and holding his family captive in February and March 2003 to get them to help rebut a damaging documentary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.