A comedy club owner says he introduced Michael Jackson to the cancer-stricken boy he is accused of molesting two years ago at a time when doctors had given the child three weeks to live.
JAMIE MASADA, owner of The Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, said the boy had expressed an interest in meeting Jackson and Masada made “a few phone calls.”
The child remains in poor health and requires a kidney transplant, Masada said Thursday.
“The kid is not doing very good,” Masada said at an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless that he holds at the club.
Masada said doctors removed a large tumor from the boy’s stomach some time ago, and at the same time took out one of his kidneys and spleen. Masada said he saw the boy earlier this week and the boy’s remaining kidney is failing and he needs a transplant.
He said the teenager was being treated at home, not a hospital, but was getting dialysis treatments.
It was unclear what effect the boy’s condition could have on the case against Jackson. Masada said he and the boy had not discussed Jackson, and Masada declined to comment on whether he believes the molestation allegations.
Jackson’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said this week that the accusations are motivated by money and are untrue.
Jackson surrendered to Santa Barbara County authorities last week after an arrest warrant alleged he committed lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. He was released on $3 million bail; authorities say they expect to file formal charges sometime after Dec. 15.
Masada said he met the boy at a camp where stars including Adam Sandler and Chris Tucker teach underprivileged children about comedy. He said he contacted Jackson’s people and asked that Jackson watch a news report about the boy’s condition and the efforts to help him.
He said he asked that the pop singer “call him, cheer him up.”
Masada said that in the past, comedians have given blood for the boy and held benefits to help pay his medical bills.
Stuart Backerman, Jackson family spokesman, declined to comment on Masada’s account but said he hoped the boy’s condition would improve.
“I think it goes without saying that we all hope he recovers well and that everybody’s heartfelt wish is for him to be healthy,” Backerman said.
The boy’s mother has an unlisted phone number and could not be located for comment. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.
In another development, a man who identified himself as a news and photo agency reporter was arrested after allegedly getting aboard Michael Jackson’s private jet when the pop star flew into town to surrender on a child-molestation warrant last week, police said Wednesday.
The revelation followed news that Jackson and his attorney were secretly videotaped aboard the plane, triggering an FBI investigation and a lawsuit by Jackson against the charter jet company.
The possibility of a connection between the alleged trespass and the videotapes was under investigation, but no connection had been made, Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dave Gonzalez said.
Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman Cheryl Mimura said she was unaware of the arrest, which was initially reported by the syndicated TV program “Entertainment Tonight.”
Lee Kevin Madden, 27, was arrested on Nov. 20 after being discovered aboard the plane by Jackson’s security people and held for the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport patrol, Gonzalez said.
At that time Jackson was being booked by sheriff’s investigators at the county jail.
Madden, of Los Angeles, had a video camera, digital camera, notepad and metal clipboard, and claimed to be a reporter with the Splash news and picture agency, Gonzalez said.
Madden was booked for investigation of misdemeanor trespassing and released. No charges have been filed.
A telephone message seeking comment was left by The Associated Press at the Marina del Rey, Calif., offices of Splash. There was no immediate response.
Splash identifies itself on its Web site as an independent entertainment news and picture agency, with corporate headquarters in London.
The Web site on Wednesday displayed numerous small sample aerial photos of Jackson’s Neverland ranch credited to “Lee Madden / Splash.” Other photos credited only to Splash showed interior shots of an airplane cabin with a black fedora identified as Jackson’s hat atop a seat, and an exterior shot of the aircraft in a hangar with someone identified as Jackson descending its stairs to surrender.
Jackson’s arrival had been cloaked in secrecy. News reporters and photographers were kept far away and the jet rolled its nose through partly opened hangar doors before Jackson got out.
The discovery of the videotapes came to light this week when the charter company, XtraJet of Santa Monica, showed them to news organizations.
Jackson attorney Mark Geragos immediately alleged violation of attorney-client privilege and sued XtraJet on Tuesday. A judge barred the company from releasing the tapes and doing anything with the jet until Jackson’s attorneys can inspect it.
The FBI sent agents to investigate whether there was a violation of federal law by surreptitious interception of communications.
“Michael Jackson is not going to be abused,” Geragos said. “Michael Jackson is not going to be slammed. He is not going to be a pinata for every person who has financial motives.”
The developments came as details about the boy’s family began to emerge, including two previous cases that involved abuse allegations: a lawsuit in which the family said they were battered by mall security guards, and a divorce fight in which the father pleaded no contest to spousal abuse and child cruelty.
In November 2001, J.C. Penney Co. paid the boy’s family $137,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging security guards beat the boy, his mother and his brother in a parking lot in 1998 after the boy left the store with clothes that hadn’t been paid for, court records show.
ALLEGATIONS OF ASSAULT
The mother also contended that she was sexually assaulted by one of the guards during the confrontation.
A month before the settlement, the boy’s mother had filed for divorce, beginning a bitter fight that would include criminal charges of abuse. The father’s attorney, Russell Halpern, said the mother had lied about the abuse and had a “Svengali-like” ability to make her children repeat her lies.
Halpern said the father once showed him a script his wife had allegedly written for their children to use when they were questioned in a civil deposition.
“She wrote out all their testimony. I actually saw the script,” Halpern said Tuesday. “I remember my client showing me, bringing the paperwork to me.”
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. The child’s mother has an unlisted number and could not be located for comment. J.C. Penney lawyers did not return a call seeking comment.
The family’s past legal cases could be critical in the current molestation case, if Jackson attorneys can show the mother or the accuser lacks credibility, said Leonard Levine, a defense attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases.
“It sounds like music to a defense attorney’s ears - that there have been other cases where they have sued and there is at least an argument that the allegations are similar to the ones here,” Levine said.
Jackson’s spokesman, Stuart Backerman, declined to comment about the past lawsuits involving the accuser’s family. The Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday.
In 2002, the boy’s father was charged with four counts of child cruelty, and one count each of injuring a child, making a threat and false imprisonment. He pleaded no contest to one count of child cruelty but it was unclear from court records which of his children was involved. The other charges were dismissed.
The father also pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 2001.
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