SANTA MARIA, California, AP
The stepfather of the boy who accused Michael Jackson of molestation testified that he asked for payment for the family’s participation in a video interview intended to restore Jackson’s reputation.
“I said, ‘This family has nothing and you’re making millions from this and what are you going to do for this little family,”’ the stepfather said Thursday of a conversation he had with someone he identified only as the “gentleman from Neverland,” a reference to Jackson’s ranch.
Also Thursday, Jackson complained in a statement posted on his Web site that he and his family have been “vilified and humiliated” for years.
“I personally, have suffered through many hurtful lies and references to me as ‘Wacko Jacko’ as well as the latest untruth about me fathering quadruplets,” Jackson said. “This is intolerable and must stop.”
The entertainer needed the judge’s permission to issue the statement because of a gag order in the case.
At a pretrial hearing, the boy’s stepfather said under defense questioning that the man he spoke with offered to give them “a college education and buy them a house.” The stepfather was referred to as “Mr. Doe” to protect his identity and that of his stepson.
The so-called “rebuttal video” was meant to answer negative publicity from a British TV documentary on Jackson that included the alleged victim and showed Jackson defending his practice of having young boys sleep in his bed. He said the contacts were non-sexual and “very sweet.”
In the rebuttal video, the 12-year-old boy and his family reportedly vouch for Jackson’s good character. Prosecutors say the family was coerced into making the video, which has not been released.
Thursday’s questioning appeared to bolster defense contentions the accuser’s family tried to “shake down” Jackson for money. Lawyers for Jackson claim the molestation accusations came when no payment was made.
Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $3 million bail. The trial is set to begin Jan. 31.
During his testimony, the stepfather refused to confirm much of the content of the rebuttal video, saying investigator Bradley Miller virtually ignored him while interviewing everyone else associated with the family.
Jackson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., said to the witness, “You heard Mrs. Doe talk about Mr. Jackson saving her son’s life and being a father figure. Do you recall her saying, ‘They filmed a beautiful story about Michael and my son?”’
“No,” the stepfather said. “I don’t recall that.”
The stepfather and other witnesses at this week’s proceedings said they did not know Miller was working for Mark Geragos, who was Jackson’s lawyer at the time. The defense contends it would be a violation of Jackson’s attorney-client privilege of confidentiality if authorities knew Miller was working for Geragos when they broke into Miller’s office and seized the video.
Later, defense attorneys showed videotaped scenes from last year’s raid on the pop star’s lavish Neverland estate.