Jackson Case: Boys Don't Lie?
Discrepancies in the accuser and his brother's molestation accounts will fuel Jackson defense
MARCH 7--With their sister already struggling on the witness stand, the Los Angeles brothers at the heart of the molestation case against Michael Jackson are now waiting in the wings, with their anticipated testimony appearing more crucial than ever.
However, the pair's accounts of Jackson's illegal behavior have been fluid and filled with the kind of troubling inconsistencies and contradictions that could easily undermine their uncorroborated version of the singer's alleged sex assaults in his Neverland Ranch bedroom. Based on The Smoking Gun's review of sealed search warrant affidavits and investigative reports and the 1903-page grand jury transcript, below you'll find several key areas in which the teenage duo's tales appear ripe for a vigorous cross examination by Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau.
BROTHER SEES MOLESTATION
Like his siblings, the accuser's brother, now 14, first spoke of Jackson's alleged abuse during a May 29, 2003 interview with Stanley Katz, an L.A. child psychologist to whom the children were referred by the family's lawyer, Larry Feldman.
In an interview with detectives, Katz recalled that the boy told him of two instances in which he saw Jackson place his hand on his brother's crotch, above the boy's clothes. However, on July 7, during his first interview with sheriff's investigators, the child's story shifted considerably.
This time, he claimed to have seen Jackson place his left hand under the front of his brother's pajama pants during the first alleged incident. Jackson, he told cops, was "jacking off" with his right hand. During the second molestation, the boy reported, Jackson's erect penis was exposed and the performer was masturbating.
The boy again tweaked his account in an August 13 police interview, saying that Jackson had placed his hand inside the front of his brother's boxer shorts--the only mention that his brother wore that kind of underwear. The accuser has said he wore Hanes briefs during the molestations, and when investigators raided Jackson's estate in November 2003, among the items they searched for were that brand of briefs, not boxers.
During the younger boy's initial grand jury appearance, he testified that his brother was wearing "underwear and a shirt" during the first assault and "pants shorts" during the second alleges molestation. Gone were any mentions of pajama pants, boxers, and, of course, inappropriate touching over his brother's clothes.
In a follow-up grand jury appearance on April 15, the boy also committed himself to other facts that will surely be called into question by Mesereau.
For example, the boy said that the two molestations occurred between 1:00 AM and 2:00 AM--when Jackson's home was presumably quiet. The child testified that as he headed for the singer's bedroom, which is on the second floor of Neverland's main house, he set off two alarms, which were triggered by hidden sensors. The boy claimed that tripping the sensors triggered two loud "ding-ding" sounds. Asked if Jackson could have heard the tones, the boy first said no, since a door leading to the stairs to the singer's bedroom was closed. He later modified that claim, noting that you can, in fact, hear the warning alarm from Jackson's bedroom if the downstairs door was closed. But, the boy claimed, the alarm sound was "really low." Which, it seems, would defeat the purpose of a security system that detectives have claimed, for more than a decade, was used by Jackson to alert him when someone was approaching the stairs to his bedroom. The inference being, of course, that those "ding-ding" warnings would give Jackson time to stop molesting a boy before someone--maids, aides, police--reached his room.
The boy, who claimed to have seen his brother's molestation from a vantage point on the stairs, testified that he watched each episode for "about a minute" before heading downstairs and out of the main house. In his opening statement, District Attorney Tom Sneddon told jurors that the child was "frozen by what he saw" from his stairwell perch. The boy, however, never offered investigators (or the grand jury) such a dramatic explanation for his lingering look.
[March 7 update: During the younger brother's direct testimony this afternoon, the boy told Sneddon that he watched the first molestation for four seconds and the second assault for three seconds. Sneddon did not ask about the child's grand jury claim to have watched each episode for "about a minute." Additionally, when Sneddon asked if he saw any liquor in Jackson's bedroom during the first molestation, the boy answered, "I don't think so." However, during his March 29, 2004 grand jury testimony, the boy said, "there was vodka on the, like there's a little night table with two glasses on the side."]
Based solely on the younger brother's account, Jackson has been charged with a pair of felony molestation counts in connection with these two alleged incidents.
GOLF CART GROPE
During his interview with Katz, the younger brother claimed that he was once traveling in a golf cart with Jackson when the entertainer allegedly reached over and placed his hand on the child's penis--again over the clothes. At the time of this alleged March 2003 incident--which the boy said occurred in the days before he watched Jackson molest his brother--the child was driving the golf cart, with Jackson to his right.
In his first interview with detectives, on July 7, the boy claimed that while he drove, Jackson reached over with his left hand and touched the boy's "penis and testicles" over his clothing.
However, by the time the boy reached the Santa Barbara grand jury on March 29, 2004, his story had changed. During a drive through Neverland, Jackson, he testified, "put his hand--he wasn't close to my private area, but he put his hand on my leg until we reached the train station, then he moved his hand." During his second grand jury appearance, on April 15, the boy said Jackson placed his hand on his right thigh. When prosecutor Ronald Zonen asked, "How close to your crotch?" the child replied, "About a couple of inches. But he wasn't touching it."
Jackson has not been charged in connection with the alleged golf cart incident.
During his first interview with detectives, on July 7, 2003, the alleged victim, now 15, claimed that Jackson once took his hand and made him touch the performer's "private part" over his clothes. The child would later testify that he believed the incident occurred while he was being molested by Jackson.
In an August 13 police interview, the accuser was again asked if he was "made to do anything to" Jackson. He answered, "I don't know. I don't think he did." The child told detectives that he believed Jackson "asked him something about touching" him, but that he told the performer he "didn't want to." When detectives reminded him of his July 7 claim that Jackson made him touch him on the outside of his pants, the teenager "said he could not remember that," according to a sealed search warrant affidavit.
However, by the time of his first grand jury appearance, the boy had rallied, becoming more certain of this alleged molestation attempt.
Asked if he ever touched Jackson, the boys said, "No. He--he wanted me to, but I didn't. I said no. And I pulled my hand away." He added, "He put his hand on my hand, and he was trying to gesture my hand to go to where he wanted me to touch it. I pulled my hand away."
For this alleged incident, Jackson was charged with a felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child. In his closing statement to grand jurors, Zonen claimed that while the incident wasn't "even attempted, it's actually completed child molestation," prosecutors were "going to give Mr. Jackson the benefit of the doubt on that one" and only charge him with an attempted lewd act.