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Accuser ‘choked up’ while talking about abuse, officer says

Investigator says boy claimed he was assaulted 5-7 times by singer
/ Source: The Associated Press

The lead investigator in the Michael Jackson case testified Wednesday that the young accuser slumped down in his seat and became “choked up” when first interviewed about allegedly being molested by the pop star.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Robel also testified that the boy told him he was molested between five and seven times, but could not recall what happened every time.

“He was fine with talking to us,” Robel said of the teenage boy’s initial interview. “When I got into the molestation acts I noticed a change in (his) demeanor. He became very quiet, folded his arms and sank down into his chair. ... He even became choked up.”

Robel’s questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon and cross-examination by Jackson attorney Robert Sanger also delved into differences in the number of alleged molestation incidents that have emerged in testimony.

The boy himself testified in the trial to only two molestations but said he believed there may have been more. Despite the statements about five to seven incidents, the investigator said that since the first interviews of the boy in July 2003 he has been able to provide detailed accounts of only two alleged molestations.

The possibility of the accuser not being aware or fully aware at certain times has been raised in testimony by the boy’s brother, who said he twice witnessed his brother being molested while asleep.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to get them to rebut a TV documentary in which Jackson appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed but it was non-sexual and innocent. Jackson’s defense contends the family has a history of filing false claims to get money.

Sharp cross examination
The defense cross-examined Robel about what he knew of the rebuttal video, in which the family praised Jackson as a father figure.

Robel testified that before obtaining an arrest warrant for Jackson, none of the investigators had seen the rebuttal video.

“And it did not appear to you to be consistent with what you had been hearing from the family?” Sanger asked.

“I was not alarmed,” said Robel, “because I recalled what (the mother) said to me in her initial interview.”

Robel said the mother indicated she was instructed by a Jackson associate to do the video.

Robel also acknowledged he had not seen a collection of cards and letters written by the family to Jackson, calling him “daddy” and effusively paying tribute to him.

Another detective, Paul Zelis, testified about adult magazines found at Neverland, including one found in a nightstand drawer that also contained a studio photograph of the accuser, his brother and sister.

He acknowledged under cross-examination that the magazines were not tested for fingerprints until after grand jury hearings in March and April 2004.

Zelis did not say whether any fingerprints were found on the magazines, but prosecutors said in opening statements that some magazines had Jackson’s and the accuser’s fingerprints.

The defense contends Jackson once caught the boy and his brother going through his magazines and took them away.