Prosecutors tried to 'dirty up' Jackson

Prosecutors portrayed Michael Jackson as a hard-drinking, porn-collecting paedophile to “dirty up” the pop star because they could not prove their case that he molested a child, Jackson’s lawyer said in closing arguments.

Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau Jnr began his closing argument on Thursday after Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen told jurors that Jackson had brought his accuser, then a 13-year-old cancer survivor, “into the world of the forbidden”.

Mesereau was to conclude his argument on Friday, followed by a prosecution rebuttal. The case will then go to the jury.

Zonen said Jackson lowered the boy’s inhibitions by giving him alcohol and showing him pornography before molesting him in the bedroom of the entertainer’s Neverland ranch.

The defence countered that the accuser’s family consisted of “con artists, actors and liars”, adding that the prosecution showed the weakness of its case by personally attacking Mesereau during closing arguments.

“Whenever a prosecutor does that, you know they’re in trouble,” Mesereau told jurors. “This is not a popularity contest between lawyers.”

Prosecutors, Mesereau said, also engaged in a “nasty attempt, a barbaric attempt” to attack Jackson personally by bringing up his financial problems, alcohol consumption, collection of adult magazines and “sagging music career”.

Jackson, who looked glum 24 hours earlier, said “I’m OK” as he left court on Thursday.

News reports surfaced late on Thursday night that Jackson was briefly hospitalised for dehydration after leaving court.
His spokesperson, Raymone K Bain, denied that he was hospitalised.

“Not true,” Bain said, adding that the rumour may have been fuelled by advice to Jackson from comedian-turned-nutritionist Dick Gregory that he receive a shot of electrolytes because he appeared dehydrated.

Bain said she did not know if Jackson followed through and got such a shot.

The 46-year-old entertainer is charged with molesting the boy in 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary Living with Michael Jackson. In the documentary, Jackson holds hands with the boy and says he allows children into his bed for innocent, non-sexual sleepovers.

Zonen said it was toward the end of a period in which the accuser and his family stayed at Neverland that “the behaviour had turned to something terribly illegal”.

He said Jackson began giving the boy alcohol and even though his mother at that time was unaware of any molestation, she insisted that her family leave Neverland.

“For all her shortcomings, after learning Michael Jackson was giving her son alcohol, in 36 hours she had her children out of there,” Zonen said.

Mesereau said the real issue was “whether the accuser’s family was credible”, and tore into the prosecutor’s claim that the boy’s mother wasn’t out for money.

He said the mother had asked celebrities for financial help, sued JC Penney after alleging that guards beat her family, and applied for welfare 10 days after getting a $152 000 settlement from the department store.

“If you do not believe [the family] beyond a reasonable doubt, Mr Jackson must be acquitted. That’s the law,” Mesereau said.

Zonen acknowledged that the mother fraudulently applied for welfare while trying to support three children, but asserted that was the only thing she had ever done that was proven to be wrong.

The prosecutor ridiculed the idea the boy’s mother could have made up the entire molestation story and prompted her children to lie in order to make money with a future lawsuit against Jackson.

“It’s unmitigated rubbish,” he said.—Sapa-AP

AP special correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report

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