Prosecutor accuses Jackson of ‘strange sexual behavior’
the associated press
SANTA MARIA, Calif. ” A prosecutor laid out the child molestation and conspiracy case against Michael Jackson to a jury on Monday, saying the singer exploited a 13-year-old boy and exposed him to “strange sexual behavior.”
District Attorney Thomas Sneddon referred to the boy by name after telling the court it would be impossible to proceed without using the real names of the child and his family.
Opening statements began after Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville read the indictment to the jury, revealing the names of five unindicted alleged co-conspirators. All are Jackson employees.
The judge also read 28 overt acts allegedly committed in a conspiracy surrounding the alleged molestation of the boy, a cancer patient, at Jackson’s Neverland ranch and a purported attempt to keep his family silent.
Sneddon, Santa Barbara County’s top prosecutor, told the jury that the case was about Jackson’s “desperate attempt” to salvage his career after the airing of the television documentary “Living With Michael Jackson,” in which the pop star is seen holding hands with the accuser and saying he allows children to sleep in his bed.
Sneddon said that when the documentary aired in early 2003, “Jackson’s world was rocked” and that one of the co-conspirators described the airing as “a train wreck.”
Jackson arrived at court with a throng of news media watching. But there was no big crowd of fans, just a handful outside and about a dozen in the courtroom. Two people demonstrated outside in support of the prosecution.
The defense opening statement was to follow the prosecution’s presentation.
The defense has described Jackson as the target of a money-hungry mother who coached her son to spin stories when it looked like their celebrity benefactor would cut them off. The defense will present evidence that the mother has sued others with claims of abuse.
“The bigger the star, the bigger the target,” Jackson said during a recent television interview with Geraldo Rivera, suggesting his defense.
Prosecutors who unsuccessfully pursued Jackson over a decade ago with charges he molested a different boy are investing huge resources to make this set of charges stick. A battalion of deputies raided Jackson’s ranch to seize evidence and a cadre of lawyers and investigators have churned out mountains of motions and search warrants.
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