Prosecutor: Jackson Sexually Abused Teen
By TIM MOLLOY, Associated Press Writer 12 minutes ago
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments of
Michael Jackson's child molestation trial Thursday that the pop star targeted a vulnerable cancer survivor, brought the little boy "into the world of the forbidden" and molested him.
Waging a broad attack on Jackson and his defense, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen charged that the singer's attorney failed to keep promises made to the jury in opening statements and that the defense's only strategy had been to attack the credibility of the accuser's mother.
The defense was to respond later in its closing argument. The jury has been told it will get the case Friday.
Zonen told the panel that Jackson has a pattern of going after susceptible boys and when he brings children to his Neverland ranch he separates them from parents and authority and fills their days with candy, video games and other amusements.
Jackson followed the same "grooming process" with his accuser and the boy's brother, he said.
"At night they entered into the world of the forbidden. They went into Michael Jackson's room, which is a veritable fortress," Zonen said.
He said that in Jackson's room the boys learned about human sexuality "from someone who is only too willing to be their teacher."
Jackson's efforts to lower the boys' inhibitions included showing them pornography, appearing naked before them and simulating a sex act with a mannequin, he said.
"This case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity," Zonen told the eight-woman, four-man jury.
Zonen dramatically read jurors a statement from Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.'s opening statement in which the lawyer said, "I think an opening statement is a contract."
He said Mesereau had invited jurors to judge him on the basis of whether he kept the promises.
"Let's begin that judgment," he said, listing a series of alleged inconsistencies.
Zonen said Mesereau claimed that the mother was involved in shakedowns of several celebrities including Jay Leno. But the prosecutor noted that Leno testified that the boy may have called him but the "Tonight Show" host never remembered being asked for money.
Zonen also said Mesereau had told jurors he would show that the mother asked Mike Tyson, Adam Sandler and
Jim Carrey for money.
"Did you see any of them come in here?" Zonen said. "There's no evidence she received anything from the three of them."
The 46-year-old entertainer is charged with molesting the 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut damaging aspects of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." In the documentary, Jackson held hands with the boy as he talked of allowing children into his bed for what he said were innocent sleepovers.
The prosecutor also acknowledged that the accuser's mother fraudulently underreported income on an application for welfare. He said she did it when she had separated from her husband and had three children to care for.
"That was a mistake. It was fraud. She shouldn't have done it," Zonen said. "That was the only thing she's done in her life that she clearly shouldn't have done."
Associated Press Writer Tim Molloy contributed to this report.
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