LOS OLIVOS, Calif. – Michael Jackson's accuser is distressed and having "a difficult time" dealing with the not guilty verdict against the pop singer, the prosecutor in the molestation case said Wednesday.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon (search) told NBC's "Today" that he spoke to the accuser immediately after Jackson was acquitted on all counts Monday.
"He's very down. He's having a difficult time understanding why people didn't believe him," Sneddon said.
"He's gone through a lot in his life. He's survived cancer, a very serious bout of cancer," he said. "He didn't necessarily want to get involved in this case. ... It was very painful for him to tell people what had happened to him."
Sneddon and Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen (search) defended the decision to put the accuser's mother on the witness stand. Jurors have said she put them off by staring at them, snapping her fingers during testimony and winking at the jury foreman.
"She behaved as she behaves," Zonen said on a cable news show. "This is her. She does snap her fingers when she talks to you; she has unusual behavioral patterns. I was hopeful that the jury would be able to understand that she is who she is and simply accept her testimony accordingly."
He added that she was a vital witness because she had information no one else had.
Jackson himself hadn't been seen in public since returning home to his Neverland ranch immediately after the acquittal was announced. He looked exhausted as he shuffled slowly out of court, giving a tentative wave to fans.
"He has to spend some time healing," lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. (search) said.
By late Tuesday night only 20 to 30 hardcore Jackson fans remained outside Neverland. Of the dozen or more television trucks that had once lined the walls outside Jackson's estate, only two remained.
"People don't know who Michael Jackson is," said defense attorney Susan Yu (search). "I spent a lot of time with him. I've never seen anybody so vulnerable. This person is totally incapable of doing any of the things they said he did."
Both Mesereau and Yu said they haven't discussed Jackson's future with him, adding he needs to recover his strength before considering returning to work. During the trial, Jackson was taken to a hospital several times for an aching back.
Despite the acquittal, at least three jurors said afterward they suspected the pop star has molested some boys, but not the one who accused him in court. Because of the public perceptions, Mesereau said Jackson will have to change his lifestyle.
"He's going to have to not let people easily enter his life," Mesereau said. "He was very generous to people who didn't deserve it."
As for letting children sleep in his bed, Jackson is "not going to do that because it makes him vulnerable to false charges," Mesereau said.
The entertainer's concert and recording career had seemed to be sagging even before his arrest, and there has been much speculation as to whether he'll ever be able to regain the stature that saw him widely regarded as the "King of Pop" in the 1980s.
The accuser, once frail as he battled cancer, is now a high school football player who aspires to a career in law enforcement. His mother is married to an Army major with a good paycheck, and the family says abuse by the children's biological father is behind them.
With the trial over, the tents outside the Santa Maria courthouse were being taken down. Also gone were the sheriff's deputies and police officers who stood sentry, as well as the barricades that limited courthouse access.
"The goal right now is to try to restore the place to the condition we found it in when we first arrived," said Peter Shaplen, media coordinator for the thousands of journalists. "It's a tough deal when you had 2,200 people here."
Carmen Jenkins, 46, said a surge in sales at her Coffee Diem store near the courthouse would help her buy a new BMW. The coffee shop, popular with journalists for its caffeine, food and wireless Internet connection, had only a few patrons the day after the verdict.
A chalkboard sign on the storefront Tuesday politely announced: "Dear Media, We will miss you very much. Thank you for everything."