Published April 15, 2005
SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The mother of Michael Jackson's (search) young accuser was barraged with questions and insinuations on the witness stand Friday as the singer's attorney tried to portray her as a con artist and forced her to admit she had lied under oath twice in an unrelated case.
Attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s (search) biting cross-examination and the witness's long-winded answers that often strayed from the subject prompted Judge Rodney S. Melville to admonish both sides.
Mesereau, attempting to shatter the mother's credibility, focused many of his questions on the woman's lawsuit against a department store. The family received more than $150,000 in 2001 after alleging they were roughed up by JC Penney security guards.
Mesereau noted that in a sworn statement, the woman said she had never been abused by her husband at the time — an important issue, because her alleged injuries may have been caused by such violence.
"You were not telling the truth under oath when you made those statements," Mesereau said.
The woman eventually responded, "This is correct," but explained that she lied because she was embarrassed about the abuse.
She also acknowledged being untruthful when she said in the lawsuit that her husband was honest.
Earlier, the witness testified that she gave a poor performance on a videotaped interview in which she praised Jackson, saying she is a "poor actress." Mesereau fired back: "I think you're a good one."
The judge chastised Mesereau for the remark and told the woman to refrain from delivering long answers unrelated to attorneys' questions, telling her, "It's as much your fault."
Cross-examination of the witness is expected to continue when court resumes Monday.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, plying the boy with alcohol, and holding his family captive at his Neverland ranch (search) and elsewhere in February and March 2003 to get them to help rebut a damaging documentary.
Jackson's lawyers have suggested that the child-molestation charges were concocted by the boy's mother in an attempt to shake down Jackson for money.
The mother said Jackson associates gave her a precise script to follow in the rebuttal video but later told her she had strayed too far from it, leading to the comments on her acting skills.
The woman testified that almost everything on the video — even breaks where the boy complains about his seat and the family laughs at jokes — was scripted by Jackson aides. She said the only departure from the script was when she discussed God, cancer and child welfare workers.
At one point on the tape, the boy speaks at great length about the agonies of undergoing cancer treatment.
"Do you believe what (he) was saying was the truth or not?" Mesereau asked the boy's mother.
"I believe what he was saying was according to a script," she said.
The woman suggested that she met with one of Jackson's associates 10 times at Neverland to discuss what she would say on the video. Mesereau noted that she had never said this before in interviews with police or prosecutors, and suggested she was trying to enhance her story.
Asked about a report she made against her ex-husband accusing him of molesting her daughter, the woman refused to answer the question directly and instead turned to the jury and said, "No, he's wrong." But ultimately, she agreed she had made such a report.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors concluded their questioning of the woman by showing jurors videotapes found in a private investigator's office to demonstrate that Jackson associates had closely monitored the boy's family while he, his mother and siblings were allegedly being held captive by Jackson at Neverland.