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Jackson defense suggests accuser trying to get even

Mesereau expected to continue challenging 15-year-old over changes in testimony
/ Source: The Associated Press

Depicting Michael Jackson’s accuser as vengeful and angry over being evicted from the Neverland Ranch, the pop star’s attorney suggested that the boy made up a story of abuse to get even.

Under cross-examination, the boy’s testimony consumed a full day on the witness stand Monday. He also was confronted with his own statements to a school official that Jackson “didn’t do anything to me.”

Prosecutors allege Jackson, 46, plied the boy with alcohol and molested him at Neverland in 2003. The child molestation trial was expected to resume Tuesday.

Jackson, who was threatened with arrest last week when he failed to appear in court on time, arrived on schedule Monday. He wore a stylish red jacket with a black armband and black slacks.

'I wanted to stay there'The boy, now 15, said he envisioned a future with Jackson as a mentor. But the Neverland idyll that began when the boy had cancer ended with the family being delivered by limousine to a grandmother’s house.

When the time came to leave, the boy acknowledged, his mother was anxious to go but “I wanted to stay there.”

Earlier, the teenager was asked about conversations he had with Jeffrey Alpert, the dean at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles, where the boy had a history of acting up in class.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., in cross-examination, quoted Alpert as telling the youngster: “Look at me, look at me... I can’t help you unless you tell me the truth — did any of this happen?”

“I told Dean Alpert he didn’t do anything to me,” the boy said. “I told him twice.”

Jackson was indicted in 2004 after an investigation prompted by the broadcast of Martin Bashir’s documentary “Living With Michael Jackson,” which showed Jackson with the boy at Neverland. The program triggered controversy because Jackson acknowledged he let children sleep in his bed.

Accuser had praised Jackson in videoStriking at the heart of the prosecution’s allegations of child molestation and conspiracy, Mesereau displayed a video tribute by the boy and his family in which they credited Jackson with changing their lives and helping to cure the boy of cancer.

The video had already been shown in the trial twice. This time, Mesereau stopped it repeatedly to ask if the boy and his family were lying. In most instances, the boy said they were speaking the truth.

“Michael was nice to me,” the boy testified. “I felt like he was a father to me.”

Prosecutors allege Jackson’s associates had the boy’s family make the video after the broadcast of an infamous documentary in which Jackson said he allowed boys to sleep in his bed. The prosecution claims the rebuttal video was staged and scripted.

Mesereau noted that the accuser initially told the prosecutor he was molested before the making of the rebuttal video rather than afterward.

Asked when the conversation with Alpert occurred, the boy said: “I believe it was after I came back from Neverland.”

It was not clear in court why the dean asked him about Jackson.

'I didn’t feel I was rejected'
Also Monday, the accuser spoke warmly of Jackson’s children, Prince and Paris, and said he considered them a brother and sister. But the tone changed when the boy testified of his exile from Jackson’s estate.

“When you left Neverland for the last time, you felt your father, Michael Jackson, had rejected you,” Mesereau said.

The boy bristled, “I didn’t need him. I didn’t want him. I didn’t feel I was rejected because I had my own real father now,” referring to a man who would later marry his mother.

Jackson sat motionless across the courtroom, watching the boy testify.

The teen also denied he ever spoke to Jay Leno but said he once placed a call to the comedian from a hospital and left a message on an answering machine. The defense, which claims the family sought to get money from celebrities, has said Leno alerted police after a call from the boy because he thought the family was looking for a “mark.”