A former security guard at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch told a lurid story Thursday about seeing the singer kiss, fondle and perform oral sex on a boy who later received a financial settlement from the pop star.
But the credibility of the guard and another prosecution witness who also testified seeing Jackson fondle boys took an enormous hit during cross-examination by defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr.
He attacked the security guard, Ralph Chacon, as making the whole thing up “to get even” with the singer and portrayed the other witness, former Jackson maid Adrian McManus, as a thief and a liar. He accused Chacon of having tried to “extort” $16 million from Jackson in a lawsuit and lengthy trial that he, McManus and other ex-employees lost. They were ultimately ordered to pay more than $1.4 million in a judgment won by Jackson.
“After a six-month trial, this is a good way to get even with him, isn’t it?” Mesereau asked Chacon, drawing a strong objection from the prosecution.
The testimony is part of a prosecution attempt to show that the current molestation allegations against Jackson are part of a pattern of inappropriate sexual contact with little boys dating back more than a decade.
In questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, Chacon told of looking through a window one night at Jackson’s pool house in late 1992 or early 1993 and seeing him perform oral sex on a 10-year-old boy.
Chacon said he saw Jackson engage in activities he described as “passionate” after the singer and the boy took a dip in an outdoor Jacuzzi and showered. He said he saw Jackson kiss the boy’s head and shoulders and later moved his hands “down to his private area.” He also said there was another incident in which Jackson took the boy away in a golf cart and kissed him in front of a Peter Pan display.
The boy received a financial settlement, reportedly between $15 million and $20 million, from Jackson in 1994. The boy did not cooperate with a police investigation and no charges were filed against Jackson. The boy is not scheduled to testify in the trial.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a TV documentary in which Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bed but that it was innocent.
Maid testifies about incidents with boysMcManus, a Jackson maid between 1990 and 1994, also testified Thursday that she saw the pop star kiss actor Macaulay Culkin on the cheek while his hand was on Culkin’s bottom. The defense has asserted that Culkin has repeatedly said he was never molested, and a spokeswoman for the actor has said he has no plans to be part of the case.
McManus described a similar scene with two other boys and third incident involving the same boy that Chacon testified about.
In the latter incident, she said, Jackson and the boy were changing their shirts when Jackson kissed the boy on his cheek and mouth and put his hand on his groin area.
But McManus also testified that when subpoenaed in the lawsuit that resulted in the 1994 settlement she did not tell attorneys that she had seen Jackson touching the boy.
“I didn’t tell the truth. I said I didn’t see anything,” she said.
Mesereau confronted her repeatedly with statements from her deposition and each time she said she could not recall until the attorney showed them to her.
“Do you know how many times you lied under oath in the ... deposition?” asked Mesereau.
“The whole time,” she said. “I believe I didn’t tell the truth.”
She said she was afraid of Jackson because he had threatened to report her to her superiors if she ever did anything he didn’t like. She also said she needed the job because her husband had been laid off and a house payment was due.
Mesereau also pointed out that McManus and her husband were found in a lawsuit to have defrauded three children of more than $30,500 from their estate and that in the Jackson lawsuit she was assessed $30,000 for stealing a sketch of Elvis Presley that Jackson had drawn and selling it to a tabloid.
McManus insisted that she found the sketch in the trash and didn’t consider its worth.
Questionable motives for one witnessThe former guard also acknowledged he was ordered to pay $25,000 for allegedly stealing Jackson’s property, which he said was only a candy bar.
In heated cross-examination, he acknowledged that when he and other employees decided to sue Jackson they consulted a lawyer who told them the only way they could fund the suit was to sell stories to tabloids. Chacon said they sold a story for $17,000 and all the money went to the lawyer.
Mesereau pressed him on whether he drafted the story at the lawyer’s office.
“I probably did,” said Chacon. “It’s been a long time.”
“Well it’s no longer than some of these events you claim to have witnessed with Mr. Jackson,” Mesereau replied.
The witness paused and said, “I probably did. I did.”
He fended off Mesereau’s suggestions that he has added “more lurid facts” each time he has told his story, but he acknowledged that this week he met with Sneddon and gave him additional details.
“Did you say you forgot to say things about Mr. Jackson molesting young men in 1993?” asked Mesereau.
“Yes, sir,” said the witness.
“And now you remember them in 2005?” Mesereau said.
“Vaguely, yes,” Chacon said.