SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Michael Jackson’s accuser is having “a difficult time” dealing with the not guilty verdict, the prosecutor said Wednesday.
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Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon told NBC’s “Today” that he spoke to the accuser immediately after the singer 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.”
Jackson remained out of sight, recovering from his bruising trial.
“He has to spend some time healing,” said attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., who headed the defense team that convinced jurors that Jackson was not guilty of child molestation.
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.
Out of sight
The entertainer hasn’t been seen in public since returning home immediately after jurors acquitted him Monday afternoon. He looked exhausted as he walked slowly out of court, giving a tentative wave to fans.
“People don’t know who Michael Jackson is,” said defense attorney Susan Yu. “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.”
While he kept a low profile, postings to his official Web site were triumphant in celebrating his acquittal.
“Innocent,” the site declared, flashing dates and the phrases “Martin Luther King is born,” “The Berlin Wall falls,” “Nelson Mandela is freed,” and finally, “June 13, 2005, Remember this date for it is a part of HIStory” — a reference to Jackson’s 1995 album “HIStory.”
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.
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 hospitalized 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.
As for Jackson’s accusers, the verdict comes at a relatively stable time in their rocky lives. The mother has married an Army major with a good paycheck, and the family says abuse by the children’s biological father is behind them.
The accuser, once frail, is now a high school football player. But one thing he no longer remains is an aspiring actor. He said on the stand that his new career goal is to work in law enforcement.
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.” Slideshow: Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009
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.”
Lee Naumcheff, 65, a real estate broker, said she was proud of the way her city of 88,000 residents weathered the media onslaught and also glad the local jury found Jackson not guilty on all counts.
“It told a lot about the good people of Santa Maria,” she said. “They’re good, fair and intelligent people and they recognized the scam when they saw it.”
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