Michael Jackson’s accuser began telling jurors the lurid details of his alleged molestation on Thursday in a court session delayed by Jackson’s detour to a nearby hospital.
When the singer failed to show up on time, Judge Rodney Melville announced Jackson would be jailed if he didn’t show up within an hour. The countdown spectacle — caused by “severe back problems,” according to defense attorney Thomas Mesereau — delayed proceedings at the Santa Barbara Superior Court in Santa Maria, California, for about an hour and a half.
When he arrived, Jackson, wearing pajamas and appearing frail, walked slowly with the aid of bodyguards but seemed to have little problem making swift turns to wave to fans. Attorneys then met in chambers with Melville, who revoked his bench warrant, meaning the singer would not be jailed despite missing the court’s deadline.
Almost as if nothing had happened, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon continued his direct examination of the 15-year-old accuser, who had begun to tell his story on Wednesday (see “Michael Jackson’s Accuser Takes The Witness Stand” ). The boy said on Thursday that he held hands with Jackson in Martin Bashir’s “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary — an image that raised eyebrows and may have helped spark the investigation in the first place — because “Michael told me to.”
The accuser then described the damage control Jackson’s camp attempted once the documentary was scheduled to air, including whisking the boy away to Miami in February 2003 for a supposed press conference. When the accuser asked if his mother could accompany him, he said, Jackson “got angry” and only relented when the boy said he couldn’t go without her.
Once in their hotel suite, the boy testified, he was introduced to “Jesus juice” — white wine in a Diet Coke can. “Michael said, ‘You know how Jesus drank wine? Well, we call it Jesus juice,’ ” the boy recalled. He said he only drank “a little” at first, because it “tasted ugly,” but said that the singer told him to drink more because it would relax him. The accuser said he drank three-quarters of the can, making his head hurt the next day. Flying home on Jackson’s private jet, the boy said, Jackson told him not to tell anyone about “Jesus juice,” gave him a watch he was wearing that he claimed was valued at $75,000, and then gave him more wine.
When they got back from Miami, the accuser testified, he and his younger brother resumed staying over at Neverland and sleeping in Jackson’s bed. Every night that the singer was there, he said, they drank alcohol — more “Jesus juice” as well as hard liquor like rum, vodka and whiskey. Despite the fact that the boy only has one kidney, having lost the other to cancer, he said that Jackson told him it was OK to drink “because Jesus drank” and promised “nothing bad would happen.”
The drinking escalated to masturbation, the boy said. He testified about two incidents where Jackson masturbated him, and another where the singer attempted to. “We had just come back from drinking in the arcade,” the accuser told the court. “We were sitting for a while. Michael told me about masturbation. He said if men don’t masturbate, you could get to a level where you could rape a girl. He said that if I didn’t know how, he would teach me.”
Mesereau started his cross-examination about 15 minutes before the end of the session, and since Friday is devoted to court business, testimony will resume on Monday.
Jackson has a history of arriving late and avoiding court dates, which analysts have pointed out has the added benefit of switching the focus from the testimony at hand to the singer’s frailty. Just last month, he rushed to the hospital instead of court when he had what his doctors called a “flulike illness,” delaying jury selection (see “Michael Jackson, Suffering From Flu, Rushed To Hospital” ). He was even tardy to his arraignment, prompting Melville to admonish him and issue a warning (see “Michael Jackson Pleads Not Guilty To Child-Molestation Charges” ).
In a previous case at the same courthouse, a civil matter in which he lost a breach-of-contract lawsuit, Jackson complained of a series of medical problems, including being bitten by a spider, which led him to arrive on crutches (see “Allegedly Attacked By Spider, Michael Jackson Skips Court Date” ). He also once blamed a late arrival on unflattering court photos (see “Jackson Late To Court As His Lawyers Object To Photographer” ).
(CBS News contributed to this report.)
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see “Michael Jackson Accused.”
[This story was originally published at 12:06 p.m. ET on 03.10.2005]