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Accuser's former lawyer testifies in Jackson case

Says he was never asked to file a lawsuit against the pop star
/ Source: The Associated Press

The lawyer who first interviewed Michael Jackson’s accuser testified Friday in the pop star’s child molestation trial that he never was asked to file a lawsuit against the singer.

The prosecution called Larry Feldman as part of its explanation to the jury of how the alleged molestation came to the attention of authorities. But the defense used his appearance to pursue its contention that the accuser and his family were out to get money from Jackson.

Feldman acknowledged under cross-examination that the boy could file a civil lawsuit against Jackson until he turns 20 years old. The accuser is now 15.

Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau Jr., grilled Feldman about whether a conviction of Jackson on child molestation charges would make it easier for them to get a financial judgment against the pop star.

“If Mr. Jackson was convicted of felony child molestation in this case, (the boy or his brother) could use that case to win a civil case alleging similar or same facts against Mr. Jackson, is that correct?” asked Mesereau.

“That’s correct,” said Feldman.

District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked Feldman whether he was contemplating a lawsuit at the time that he referred the boy and his family to prosecutors.

“There was no lawsuit and there were no plans to file a lawsuit,” said Feldman. “It was up to you to investigate.”

Feldman said that although he met with the accuser’s mother many times after he ceased to represent her officially, “I have never been asked to file any lawsuit against Michael Jackson.”

During an afternoon break, a handful of Jackson fans yelled “liar,” “tell the truth,” and “you’re making money off the backs of these people” when Feldman walked outside the courthouse.

Feldman repeatedly defended himself from Mesereau’s accusations that he left it to prosecutors to bring the criminal case because he knew that if they won, he would be assured of victory in a civil suit.

Feldman said he didn’t want the accuser, a cancer survivor, to go through two trials.

“It’s almost inhumane to have a cancer patient go through a criminal case and then go through a civil case,” he said.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy at his Neverland estate in early 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to make a video rebutting an ABC documentary.

In other testimony, sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Klapackis defended the scale of the effort when 69 investigators served a search warrant at Neverland on Nov. 18, 2003.

He said the many investigators were needed because the district attorney only gave them one day to carry out the search “so as not to burden the ranch and its employees with our presence longer than that.”