Having already faced one accuser in court, Michael Jackson faced another on Monday, when a young man — who broke down in tears — testified that the singer molested him in the early 1990s.
The son of a former Neverland Ranch maid is one of five boys the prosecution contends the singer previously molested. They’re revisiting the boys’ stories in an attempt to establish a pattern of behavior for Jackson (see “Blow To The Defense: Past Molestation Claims Allowed In Jackson Case” ). Monday’s witness is the only one of those five boys so far willing to testify, and he acknowledged it was difficult for him.
“This took a lot of counseling to get over, just to let you know,” he said at one point, apologizing for becoming emotional. “This is so much harder than I thought.”
He said he underwent five years of counseling after receiving a $2.4 million settlement from the singer in 1994 (see “Michael Jackson Admits He Paid Off Accuser” ), which some legal analysts believe adds to his credibility — that if his family were only after money, as the defense contends, he would not have needed additional treatment.
The witness testified that Jackson had a separate apartment in Hollywood that his mother used to clean as well as Neverland, and that he used to visit the singer there, calling it his “hideaway” or “hideout.” He said that he would sometimes watch cartoons with Jackson, sitting on his lap, and other times they would lie on top of a sleeping bag together in a “spooning” position. During these times, he testified, Jackson would tickle him, innocently at first, but eventually less so when he was around 6 or 7 years old, when the singer started tickling him around his genital area, outside of his underpants.
“I didn’t feel uncomfortable then, but looking back, I should have,” he said. “You know, you’re 7, you didn’t think it was wrong. I probably did think it was weird, but not super weird, because you were tickling.”
Each time he was tickled, he said, the singer gave him a $100 bill, so he wouldn’t tell his mother. The tickling game escalated further, he said, when he was at Neverland. He described an incident in which he claimed Jackson reached under his shorts and fondled him outright. The witness said he never talked about the incidents with anyone until investigators came to him in regard to the case involving a 1993 accuser, who also received a multimillion-dollar settlement (see “Jackson Says $25M Settlement Is Not An Admission Of Guilt” ). No criminal charges were filed.
Jackson’s attorney quizzed the young man, now 24, about his motivation for coming forward in the first place, noting that his mother had sold her story at the time to “Hard Copy” for $20,000, and that she appeared on the show before he had disclosed the alleged molestation to her. The witness said he was unaware of that until recently.
Former Neverland house manager Jesus Salas also took the stand Monday and described three boys who toured the wine cellar with Jackson as being drunk; he also described the singer as being intoxicated himself around children. He conceded under cross-examination that it could have been a reaction to the painkillers Jackson was taking at the time. Salas said that the current accuser’s mother told him that her family wasn’t allowed to leave Neverland, so he drove them back to Los Angeles.
(CBS News contributed to this report.)
For full coverage of the Michael Jackson case, see “Michael Jackson Accused.”