SANTA MARIA, Calif. — In many ways he looked like any other witness in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial. Dressed casually in a black jacket and white button down shirt, actor Macaulay Culkin arrived at the courthouse on Wednesday with little fanfare.
Unlike comedian George Lopez, who arrived in a white stretch limo, with a small entourage, Culkin entered unannounced through the backdoor of the courthouse. But the star of the blockbuster movie “Home Alone” is anything but just another witness.
“It’s hard to imagine there being a better witness for Michael Jackson than Macaulay Culkin,” said legal analyst Trent Copeland.
Culkin adamantly denied anything inappropriate happened between him and the embattled pop star. The exchange between Culkin and Jackson’s lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau went like this:
“Did Mr. Jackson ever molest you?”
“Never,” responded Culkin.
“Did Mr. Jackson ever improperly touch you?”
“Has Mr. Jackson ever touched you in any sexual type of way?”
“Out of the five kids that Michael Jackson supposedly molested, one never showed up at the trial. Three have said they were never molested and only one came to the courtroom and indicated he was molested,” Copeland said. “So, I think that Macaulay Culkin single-handedly devastated and shook the foundation of the prosecution’s pattern evidence against Michael Jackson.”
Culkin became an unwilling participant in Jackson’s trial after a prosecution witness testified he saw the pop star grope the child actor. And while Culkin said he did sleep in Jackson’s bed, a number of times, he also said nothing happened.
The now 24-year-old New Yorker, who appears somewhat childlike himself, never flinched on the stand, despite an aggressive cross-examination by prosecutor Ron Zonen.
When Zonen suggested that Jackson molested Culkin while he was fast asleep on the pop star’s bed, Culkin replied “I think I’d realize if something like that was happening to me.”
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A simple connection
And the jury may be realizing something. That while Jackson’s friendship with Culkin, which began when he was only 9 years old, has been described as odd, unnatural and curious, it was based on something very simple; an ability to relate and understand each other. They were both child stars, catapulted into the spotlight at a very young age. And they both discovered the pitfalls of being rich and famous.
“I was essentially a normal kid who happened to be an actor and the next thing I know, I’m just this thing, where people are hiding in the bushes and trying to take your picture,” Culkin testified under oath. “And people are trying to profit from you or the next thing you know, you have a million acquaintances and no more friends anymore. It was like that and (Jackson) understood that.”
Jackson understood that because he had been there too, and it appears he had found a kindred spirit in the child actor and vice versa.
Culkin not only provided a window into his relationship with Jackson, but when he talked about people trying to profit from celebrities, he also indirectly — perhaps without knowing it — addressed the heart of the defense’s case.
Mesereau has argued the current accuser and his family were grifters who wanted to profit from Jackson. And when they discovered “Michael Daddy,” as the accuser used to call him, had no intention of supporting the family and paying their way forever, they made up the allegations of molestation.
For his part, Culkin had said in the past that he did not want to become involved in Jackson’s criminal trial. And even on the stand Wednesday, he said he “hadn’t really planned on testifying.” But in the end, it is safe to say both the defense and Jackson are glad he did.
And when Culkin was told he could step down as a witness, he left the courtroom quietly after less than two hours on the stand. His exit much the same as his entrance. Only this time he left through the front door.
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