Past Jackson abuse claims to be used in court

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In what trial watchers say is a blow to Michael Jackson's defense, Judge Rodney Melville ruled Monday to allow the use of past allegations of child molestation in the trial. The decision was reached in deliberations done in the jury's absence. The ruling means that prosecution, led by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, can introduce what it says are 5 cases of prior molestation.

The prosecution, which originally submitted 10 cases to the deliberations, was ruled able to proceed with 5 due to a 1995 law passed in California. The law, aiming specifically at child molestation and domestic violence cases, is unlike other cases where the prior criminal conduct of the defendant is not permissable in court.

The ruling will allow testimony in cases arising from over 10 years ago. Allegations involving the behavior of Jackson, now aged 46, with boys 10 to 13 years old at the time will be presented. So far, only one boy has agreed to testify. In the other 4 cases, third party witnesses or family members, are planned.

Jackson's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau jr. worked to have the cases excluded during deliberations. Noting that Macaulay Culkin, of the movie "Home Alone" fame and once frequent visitor of the Jackson's Neverland ranch, in an interview with Larry King has previously and publicly stated "Nothing happened."

Mesereau promised to make a "mini-case" out of each of the new allegations, which could drag the trial on indefinitely. The AP reports him saying, "You can't stop the defense from putting on a full-blown defense and I mean just that."

In 1993, a molestation charge was settled out-of-court for $26m by Jordan Chandler, ending his accusations against Jackson. His mother plans to testify in this trial.

The Defence's argument

Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau jr.: "[This evidence would] easily reduce the burden of proof and the presumption of innocence and render an unfair trial."

The Defense have claimed that some of the boys listed would testify to Jackson's innocence and that they are based on third party claims, many of which are after Michael Jackson's money. "How can you just allow a parade of third-party characters to come in without any victims?"

The Prosecution's argument

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon has claimed these other cases will show behavior that is "very similar, if not identical" to that which is claimed by Gavin Arvizo.

Michael Jackson has said "None of these stories are true. They are totally fabricated. It's very sad, it's very, very painful. I pray a lot. That's how I deal with it, and I'm a strong person. I'm a warrior, and I know what is inside of me. I'm a fighter, but it's very painful at the end of the day. I'm still human, you know. I'm still a human being, so it does hurt very, very, very much."

Michael Jackson continues to deny 10 counts of abuse and false imprisonment.