SANTA MARIA, Calif. – The family that has accused Michael Jackson (search) of holding them captive at his Neverland ranch showed no signs that they were unhappy or felt they were being held against their will, the ranch manager testified Monday.
Joe Marcus (search) said that the family members "were excited to be there" and when he would take them out on shopping trips and to the dentist they were anxious to get back to Neverland.
"Did she ever complain to you about anything?" defense lawyer Robert Sanger (search) asked.
"Never," said Marcus.
Marcus, an 18-year employee, said he never saw Jackson do anything inappropriate to children and never saw anything that would have caused him to report an illegal act to authorities.
Marcus was part of a string of current and former Neverland (search) employees called by the defense to counter former ranch employees who testified against Jackson during the prosecution case. The defense Monday began its first full week of its case.
Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient in February or March 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which he appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed.
The ranch manager testified that during that time he provided the family with transportation when they wanted to go on outings off the property.
When they went on a shopping trip, Marcus said, he stayed at the car while they wandered around the popular tourist town shopping for an hour.
Sanger asked if there was ever a time during that shopping trip and others when the mother was followed by a "positive PR film crew," something she described on the witness stand.
"Not to my knowledge," Marcus said.
He said he met the family one day at an orthodontist's office where the accuser and his brother went to have work done on their teeth. He said it was raining and he found the family anxious to get back in the car and return to Neverland when the appointment was over.
The mother has said she made up dental needs as a ruse to try to escape.
Marcus and other witnesses gave the jurors colorful descriptions of Neverland, which they have only seen in photos. The judge refused a request early in the case to have jurors visit the ranch.
Marcus told of improvements Jackson made, including the rides, theater, zoo, train depot and water attractions.
He and other ranch employees remembered the accuser and his family as being sympathetic figures when they first arrived, when the boy was trying to recover from cancer.
But when the family returned a year later, the employees said, the boys were rambunctious and destructive and got into trouble, crashing golf carts and trying to drive ranch vehicles.
Jackson left the court hastily after the day's testimony and his spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain said he was in pain from a persistent back problem.
"He's very physically tired. His back is not doing well. He was uncomfortable in court," she said.
Bain said that Jackson's spirits remain high because of his defense team's efforts but that the trial in general has made him unhappy.
"It's very difficult to come in and hear these things said about you," she said. "None of this helps his image. We're looking forward to his being vindicated."
She said Jackson "wants this to end so he can go on with his life. He wants to get back to what he does, making people happy."
In other testimony, Neverland security chief Violet Silva said the accuser and his brother had to be stopped from trying to drive an SUV and a van at the ranch. She also said that a Feb. 19, 2003, directive to guards that the children not be allowed to leave meant they couldn't leave without adult supervision.