Boy's Father Denied Emergency Custody Motion In Jackson Case

Los Angeles judge sets February 24 for full hearing on custody issue.

The boy at the center of the Michael Jackson molestation case is now

at the center of another legal battle — between his parents.

On Wednesday afternoon (January 28), Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Denner denied an emergency motion made by the boy's father, who sought custody of his son following news reports suggesting the boy may have been victimized and is in ill health. The estranged father hasn't seen his son for more than a year. (The child and father's names are being withheld due to

the nature of the case.)

"My son may have been the victim of a crime, that being child

molestation, and I would like to see my son to give him love and

support," the father said in documents filed Tuesday. He

said he wanted to see his son immediately to "confirm or refute these

horrible reports regarding my son's health."

Judge Denner set February 24 as the date for a full hearing on the

matter.

His son had previously been treated for cancer, but the father believed

it was in remission. Friends of the family, however, have told

reporters his son has suffered a relapse, lost function of his

remaining kidney and was close to death (see "Jackson Wanted Boy To

Leave The Country, Family Friend Says").

The father has been barred from seeing his three children following

accusations that he had physically abused his wife and two of the three

children, including the boy in question. He pleaded no contest in 2001

to a single count of domestic violence and received a sentence of

counseling and probation. The following year, he pleaded no contest to

a charge of willful cruelty to a child, following an incident involving

his daughter, and received more probation. The mother was awarded sole

custody of the children and a restraining order was issued against the

father (see "U.K. Reports Tell Story Of How Jackson Met His Accuser").

The father's attorney, H. Russell Halpern, however, claims the father

never abused his family. Halpern also said the father had completed

classes in parenting and anger management, as required by his sentence.

"People often ask, why would somebody who is innocent, and I believe he

was innocent, plead no contest to a charge?" Halpern said.

"Unfortunately, it's usually the innocent person who succumbs to

pressure put on them by the courts. They are told that if they do not

plead no contest and go to trial, there is a good possibility they

could be put in jail. My clients who have actually committed crimes in

the past aren't that afraid of going to jail; they've been there

before. But the father of this boy had never been in trouble before and

faced the prospect of losing his job and going to jail for a year, with

Bubba as his roommate and new 'best friend.' That's very scary. So when

you're told you can avoid all that by pleading no contest, you swallow

your pride and take the plea bargain."

The father was there when his son was first treated for cancer

and starting hanging out with Jackson. The father considered the singer

a family friend, since he had helped defray some of the medical costs,

and in doing so "may have helped save the boy's life," Halpern said.

The father was subsequently conflicted about the accusations.

"He expressed to me that he wants to know the truth," Halpern said. "He

did not want Mr. Jackson to be unjustly accused of the crime. He said

that Mr. Jackson, aside from his high-pitched voice, exhibited a very

masculine personality and Mr. Jackson did not appear to him to be a

pedophile. At the same time, if Mr. Jackson were guilty, he would want

him to be punished. He feels this particular son is the most honest of

his three children, and he finds it difficult to believe this son would

lie."

Halpern said it comes down to the mother allowing unsupervised

sleepovers, which he described as "reckless behavior."

"I think allowing your child to spend the night in an adult male's room

would give some question to any court as to whether this is the proper

parent to have sole custody and provide primary childcare," Halpern

said. "And if she had used her children to make false accusations

against Mr. Jackson, that involves her children in criminal conduct."

Either way, Halpern argued, the father should at least have visitation

rights if not partial or sole custody.

"The child's father doesn't believe anything at this point," Halpern

said. "He doesn't know, and that's the way everybody should feel. If it

were your child, you should want to find out the facts. Otherwise, you

would be lynching people, and it's not very satisfying if you find out

they're innocent after you've hung them. It's important for him to come

in contact with his son so he can learn what really happened. And his

children should be told that their father loves and wants to see them."

The mother's attorney did not return calls for comment.

For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case,

see "Michael Jackson

Accused."