In a damaging blow to the defense, the judge in the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial ruled Monday that evidence from five past molestation claims will be allowed in this current case.
This means that the jury will hear about allegations from 1990 and 1993 — which ended when Jackson settled for millions of dollars — as well as three others, as early as Monday. Jackson was not in court for the pretrial hearing.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon asked that Judge Rodney Melville allow one prior alleged victim to testify to three incidents of molestation — two instances outside the clothing, one inside his underwear. This description fits the claims of the son of a former Jackson employee, Neverland Ranch maid Blanca Francia (also known as Blanca Flores), to whom the singer paid $2 million in a 1990 settlement (see "Michael Jackson Admits He Paid Off Accuser").
Sneddon also asked to allow third-party witnesses who would testify to incidents involving four other children, aged 10 to 13, who were allegedly inappropriately kissed, licked and touched.
Melville ruled that he'll allow testimony and evidence regarding these five allegations — including the most well-known case involving the 1993 accuser, to whom Jackson paid $25 million in 1993 (see "Jackson Says $25M Settlement Is Not An Admission Of Guilt"). With regard to that case, Melville will allow reference to the fact that there was a settlement, but not how much.
Jackson's defense attorney Thomas Mesereau vigorously argued against allowing the previous sexual allegations, calling them "weak" and "unsubstantiated." Mesereau said the 1993 accuser would not testify, and said third-party witnesses who would testify to other alleged acts, including those involving choreographer Wade Robson and former child actor Macaulay Culkin, would be discredited (see "Macaulay Culkin, Corey Feldman To Testify In Jackson Case?"). Mesereau had also asked that Melville delay his decision on the issue of prior bad acts until the mother of the current accuser takes the stand.
Meanwhile, comedian George Lopez testified on Monday about his relationship with the current accuser, which had been touched upon when fellow comic Louise Palanker took the stand a week earlier (see "Michael Jackson Fan Faints In Court; Comedian Takes Stand"). Lopez said he helped the boy, his brother and his sister at a Laugh Factory-sponsored comedy camp for underprivileged kids in 1999 and started giving their now-estranged father cash when the accuser was hospitalized with cancer. He even had planned to raise more money for the boy's cancer costs, but he started having misgivings about the boy's father and opted not to, he said.
Lopez described the father as being too aggressive in asking for financial help, calling him "an extortionist." He described one incident where he found the boy's wallet at his home with $50 in it and sent it to Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada. Masada later told him that the father had accused him of taking $300 from the wallet, Lopez testified.
Lopez's wife, Ann Serrano Lopez, also took the stand, and said that the father had called her names when she tried to get copies of bills and the names of people to whom the family owed money, so they could help pay the money owed. The father thought the money would go directly to him, she said, adding that her family's relationship with the accuser took a back seat once he met Jackson. "All of a sudden our friendship was not as important as being at Neverland," she said.
(CBS News contributed to this report.)
This story was originally published at 3:30pm ET
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see "Michael Jackson Accused."