Accuser's Mother to Face Tough Questions

Accuser's Mother | Beatles, Pt. 2

Accuser's Mother Faces Serious Questions

Hang on for what promises to be the mother of all cross-examinations today.

Michael Jackson's defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. is going to surgically and systematically take apart Janet Arvizo, the mother of Jackson's accuser, when she sits back down on the stand here in Santa Maria, Calif.

This should be like a great moment in a soap opera, where many secrets are revealed and old festering lies are put to rest.

The biggest revelation could be that Jackson planned to adopt a boy and girl from Brazil in March 2003, around the same time he was planning to send the family of his then-13-year-old accuser there for an extended vacation.

Jackson, my sources say, was going to put on a concert in Rio's Maracana Stadium and create a video for the now-ironically titled song "One More Chance." A major TV network was all set to sponsor the concert and broadcast it later.

The concert/video didn't pan out, and neither did the Brazilian vacation for the Arvizo family.

In court yesterday, Janet Arvizo told the jury that Jackson intended to send her to a remote part of Brazil where "there were no Americans."

But that was only one of the false statements Arvizo may have given under oath during the last two days.

In reality, I am told, the plan was for the family to remain in Brazil for only as long as Jackson expected to stay.

"They were going to be right in Rio de Janeiro at a big hotel," says my source, who points out — contrary to Arvizo's testimony — that there is no unpopulated area where the family could have been stashed.

The Brazil trip is just one of the issues Arvizo may have to deal with when Mesereau begins his cross-examination. And it may be the least of her problems.

For example, Mesereau will trot out all the receipts for the spending she did during her "kidnapping" in Calabasas, Calif., in February 2003.

Yesterday, Arvizo claimed under oath that using Jackson associate Marc Schaffel's credit card, she shopped once for replacement clothes.

But as I wrote in this column on February 10, 2005, the truth is that Arvizo shopped 'til she almost dropped during her Calabasas run.

To wit: On the day they arrived in Calabasas, the Arvizos' "kidnapping" began with dinner at the Outback Steak House ($131).

The next day, Feb. 26, 2003, this welfare mother, who also received food stamps, hit the Banana Republic ($415), Wilson's House of Leather ($127), Pacific Sunwear, The Gap, Jockey, Anchor Blue ($454), Robinsons-May Company, Abercrombie & Fitch, Jeans Outlet ($430) and a Ralph's supermarket ($127 for cosmetics and liquor). The family dined at the tony Black Angus steak restaurant in Woodland Hills ($175).

The next day Arvizo continued to eat her way through Jackson's money at Foot Locker ($85), stopped again at Robinsons-May and made one more trip to Anchor Blue.

On Feb. 28, she had a manicure and pedicure ($51) and she and all three kids also got haircuts.

The next day was March 1, and she hit the Topanga Canyon Mall and Anchor Blue again before taking in a showing of the movie "Old School" (concessions $32, dinner at Johnny Rockets $26). The family also consumed quantities of Baskin-Robbins ice cream that day.

On March 2, she returned to Robinson-May ($71 for "night repair and lipstick"), spent $171 at Champs Sports and grabbed a Starbucks coffee.

By the time the family was returned to Neverland, their "captors" must have been broke and exhausted.

Arvizo told the jury yesterday that as she was "held hostage" at the Country Inn & Suites in Calabasas, she made only a few phone calls and spoke in code, quickly, "dropping clues" about her situation.

In truth, she made 12 calls on Feb. 27 from her room. Four of them were to her kids' school, three were to her best friend, Azja Pryor — fiancée of comic Chris Tucker — two were to her parents and one was to her then-boyfriend, now her husband, U.S. Army Maj. Jay Jackson.

On Feb. 28, she called Pryor twice. She spoke to her boyfriend three times. She spoke to her parents once and called Neverland once.

On March 1, Arvizo managed to get seven calls out to the boyfriend, one call out to Pryor and two to her parents. And on March 2 there were three calls to the boyfriend, two more to the parents and one to a local skin-care specialist named Elizabeth Murray.

There's more, of course, lots more.

Arvizo told the jury that Jackson's employees Frank Tyson and Vinnie Amen only wanted her to go to Brazil, and had no other housing plans for them. But Mesereau knows that Arvizo met with at least one realtor in the Woodland Hills area and looked at several apartments.

"She liked the area because of the schools," but couldn't pick a place, a source says.

Her real interest was in moving to Solvang, the recreated Danish village in Santa Barbara County near Neverland, but Jackson would not agree to fund that project.

There are plenty of other holes in Arvizo's story, and Mesereau is sure to explore them.

For one thing, she admitted yesterday to having a longtime family court attorney, Michael Manning, on retainer. But when she appeared in family court on March 11, 2003, she didn't bother to tell Manning that her three children were being "held" at Neverland.

Later in the day, she testified she planned a complicated ruse so the kids could escape. She didn't call the police, she said, because she didn't think anyone would believe her. Mesereau may ask why she didn't call Manning to help her.

Ironically, no one believes her now, especially since Arvizo's actions don't match those of a desperate or terrified mother.

For example, she told the court that when she thought she couldn't escape from Neverland, she set up a rendezvous with her boyfriend in West Los Angeles to tell him what was going on.

She chose a beauty salon as a cover, but then stopped to have her legs waxed while she was there. That's not how panicked moms usually react to missing kids.

Arvizo also used an application for a passport as evidence that Jackson's aides lied to her. They told her she was going to Brazil, but the applications read "Italy and France" as destinations.

Arvizo told prosecutor Ron Zonen she'd never heard any discussion of these countries. But I'm told that listing European countries as possible destinations will be explained as an expeditious solution to obtaining passports quickly.

In court, Arvizo also claimed that she didn't see her kids at Neverland for eight days, from March 2-10, 2003, and kept to herself out of fear. But sources at the ranch say that that was her own choice, and that she refused to come out of her room despite often being entreated to do so.

Arvizo has had at least two stays in hospitals for mental problems, and that may come out in cross-examination, too.

On Wednesday, she was manic on the stand, while she was subdued yesterday. Today, Mesereau has the right to ask her what kind of medication she may be taking.

Beatles for Sale, Pt. 2

Michael Jackson's publicist Raymone Bain issued a denial yesterday concerning our story about Jackson selling off most of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, aka the Beatles catalog, to save himself from financial ruin.

Well, we're sticking by this story. It can be argued that Bain, who lives and works in Washington, D.C., has no idea what's up with Jackson's finances. She certainly knows nothing of his trial.

Bank sources reconfirmed for me yesterday that the deal described in this column is now on the table. And if Jackson doesn't take it, he will likely have a perilous financial dilemma on his hands next week.