Mark Geragos Testifies in Jacko Trial

Michael Jackson's former attorney took the stand in the pop star's child molestation trial, testifying he investigated the accuser's family and became "gravely concerned" about them as a threat to his client.

Mark Geragos (search) told jurors Friday that he had both researched the family himself and hired a private investigator to check their background. The findings, Geragos said, disturbed him.

"Michael should have nothing to do with them," he said. "It was a pending disaster."

Geragos testified under cross-examination that he had asked Jackson (search) if the boy slept in his bed and the entertainer had answered yes.

"He said he didn't do anything untoward or sexual and if anyone spent the night in his room it was unconditional love," Geragos said.

Geragos said an initial visit to Jackson's Neverland Ranch (search) made him worry that his client would be a prey for possible allegations.

"When I was there what I saw was a gentleman who was almost childlike in his love for kids. I didn't see anyone doing anything nefarious or criminal. I saw someone who was ripe as a target," he said.

Geragos said he was hired about the time of the February 2003 airing of a documentary in which Jackson appeared with his now-accuser. In the documentary, Jackson said that he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.

Under questioning by Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search), Geragos said he was concerned about allegations spawned by the documentary and was particularly concerned that the boy or his family might take advantage of them.

He said he conducted database searches to see if the family had a "litigious history" and was disturbed to find they had sued J.C. Penney over allegations they were beaten by security guards. The family received a $150,000 settlement.

"I was gravely concerned," Geragos said.

Geragos said he hired a private investigator to look into the family, and the results led him to believe the family was bad news.

"Michael should have nothing to do with them," he said. "It was a pending disaster."

Mesereau asked Geragos if he was aware of any crime committed against the family. Geragos said no.

"I was trying to prevent a crime against my client," he said. "I thought that they were going to shake him down."

Geragos worked for Jackson until he was replaced in April 2004.

At one point, Geragos declined to answer a prosecution question on grounds that Jackson only waived attorney-client privilege concerning events before his arrest in November 2003, surprising Judge Rodney S. Melville and prosecutors.

The judge sent the jury out of the room to address "the misrepresentation Mr. Mesereau has made to the court and counsel." The judge said he believed it was a total waiver of the privilege.

Mesereau apologized, saying he did not think events after Jackson's arrest were relevant.

Geragos did not complete his testimony before court recessed for the weekend. The judge scheduled him to return on May 20.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient in February or March 2003 and plying him with wine. He is also accused of conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to make a video rebutting the documentary.

Late Friday, both sides filed documents concerning potentially important testimony by a Neverland employee who claims the accuser's sister confided to him that her mother and the mother's boyfriend were planning "something big" regarding Jackson.

The witness, Angel Vivanco, whom prosecutors described as having a "quasi-sexual relationship" with the sister while she was at Neverland, would testify that the girl referred to her mother as "Psycho Mom" (search) and said she was "not OK in the head."

Among statements he attributed to the sister were that the mother was "making her do something" and that "something bad is going to happen."

The prosecution seeks to bar the statements from the trial as hearsay. The defense says they support the theory that the family planned to allege molestation to get money from Jackson.

The mother and sister testified that the family was held against their will at Neverland.