Jackson Case: D.A.'s Sleazy Witness
Former Neverland employee turned porno "authority" to testify that he saw Michael Jackson molest Macaulay Culkin at ranch
APRIL 4--In a bid to convince jurors that Michael Jackson sexually molested Macaulay Culkin and screened X-rated movies for other boys visiting Neverland Ranch, prosecutors are expected to soon call as a government witness a Los Angeles man who has described himself as the "master authority" on Internet porn and who, until last year, ran a hardcore web site stocked with video and photos depicting "nudity and heterosexual, bi-sexual, homosexual, and transsexual situations," The Smoking Gun has learned.
For a trial already saturated with images from the pages of "Barely Legal," "Hustler," and other titles in the singer's periodicals collection, the testimony of Phillip Lemarque promises to further cement the case's pervy pedigree.
Along with his wife Stella Marcroft, Lemarque worked at Neverland for a brief period in the early 90s (the couple says their Jackson employment, which ended around late-1991, lasted two years, while other accounts put their tenure at 10 months). It was during that time, Lemarque has told investigators, that he witnessed Jackson act inappropriately with Culkin and other boys.
In a ruling last Monday, Judge Rodney Melville gave Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon permission to call nine witnesses to testify about alleged prior incidents during which Jackson either molested boys or engaged in pedophilic "grooming" activities. Included in that group of court-approved prosecution witnesses is Lemarque, a 69-year-old French expat who once wrote of his and his wife's Neverland responsibilities, "Stella was Michael Jackson's private chef, I was the major d'homo in charge of organizing Michael's entertainment activities."
In arguing for admission of uncharged "prior bad act" testimony against Jackson, Sneddon did not specify the exact nature of each proposed witness's testimony. However, Lemarque has previously told investigators that he saw the entertainer's hand inside Culkin's pants early one morning in the Neverland video arcade. Lemarque claims that he was delivering food to Jackson when he entered the arcade through a side door and saw the alleged groping. He claims to have backed out of the door and re-entered the arcade through the main entrance, without Jackson realizing what he had seen. Lemarque has also told of Jackson watching pornographic movies with several young male guests. Culkin has repeatedly denied that he was sexually abused by Jackson. Lemarque did not return TSG phone messages left at his L.A. office.
As with several other former employees slated to testify about alleged improprieties dating back at least a decade, Lemarque will be grilled on cross examination about prior attempts to sell his story to supermarket and television tabloids across the globe. To that end, Lemarque and his wife (and an L.A. lawyer representing the couple) talked money in 1993 with the National Enquirer, Globe, "Inside Edition," and the Splash news service.
Some of the Lemarque media entreaties, which came after news broke of teenager Jordan Chandler's molestation claims, were brokered by Paul Barresi, a self-styled investigator who often turns up on the periphery of the tawdriest tabloid stories (part snoop, snitch, and fixer, Barresi is the Zelig of Hollywood's seamy underbelly).
In a 1993 "Frontline" documentary about the media frenzy surrounding the original Jackson probe, Barresi said that as the Lemarque asking price spiraled into the mid-six figures, Phillip tweaked his account of the Culkin incident. While Lemarque initially reported that Jackson's hand was outside Culkin's clothing, Barresi told "Frontline," his tabloid asking price rose when his story shifted to claim that the entertainer actually had his hand inside the young actor's pants.
While it is unclear if the Lemarques ever consummated a tabloid deal, Barresi himself pulled an end-around on the couple, selling their story to the Globe after surreptitiously taping a meeting during which the pair laid out their charges against Jackson (the resulting piece was headlined "We Saw Michael Molesting Child Star"). Barresi made sure to have a photographer secretly memorialize an August 1993 chat with the Lemarques at an outdoor café (he is pictured at left with the couple).
According to published reports, the couple actually first reached out to a supermarket tabloid in 1991 with their Jackson molestation tales, though no story was ever published. While this contact came before the 1993 tabloid feeding frenzy, Lemarque was peddling a Jackson story at the same time he was enmeshed in a personal bankruptcy proceeding. According to court records, Lemarque reported debts of $455,000, which he amassed through his operation of Bourbon Street, an Encino restaurant. His Chapter 7 action, filed in June 1987, would not be closed until November 1992, just months before Lemarque again put his story out to bid (the Lemarques were reportedly fired from their Neverland posts by Jackson aide Norma Staikos).
While the former Neverland employee's financial motivations--and honesty--will be questioned by Jackson's defense team, Lemarque's work in the online pornography business will surely be used to tarnish his image (just as prosecutors have done to Jackson with their interminable display to jurors of his porno stash).
In 1997, Lemarque launched Virtual Sin, a web site he operated until last year. Billed as "the most sinful site on the internet," Lemarque's flagship porn offered explicit photos and videos and greeted web surfers with the words, "Welcome Beaver Hunters." With photo galleries devoted to "Blowjobs" and "ANAL," Lemarque's hardcore site was loaded with the kind of photos and pronouncements ("Ass fuckin' is lickin' gooood!!" and "We will give you a big lick on your big or small one") that would certainly make Sneddon, a respectable father of nine, blanche.
In addition to beckoning visitors to "continue your search for the Perfect PUSSY," Lemarque also gave Virtual Sin visitors a glimpse of his, um, wit, with musings on "Why I love Whores." Included in Lemarque's misspelling-laden laundry list were:
* Whores are musicains they can play the skin flute.
* Whores know how to share with others, even their most private parts!
* Whores are excellent calcium therapysts, they can make an 8 inch bonner out of nothing.
Though Lemarque's flagship porn site went offline in early-2004, a visit to virtualsin.com still turns up a directory with some of the now defunct site's data folders. Coupled with a search of archive.org, which captures versions of web sites over many years, TSG was able to recover what Lemarque once offered. Virtual Sin also steered visitors to a firm offering the $895 Motorized Orgasmic Release (MOR), a "patented electrically powered genital stimulation device for men and women." According to the device's inventor, Lemarque designed the firm's web site, which featured a creepy drawing showing a satisfied customer--who is attached to the machine--lying in repose with three naked women.
In addition to Virtual Sin, Lemarque also operated Galaxy 2001, a how-to site for wannabe online porn operators. "Selling SEX is not difficult if you know how to manage your boat through the intricacies of the Internet," noted Lemarque. He claimed that Galaxy 2001 doubled as a web host and housed "hundred of adult web site" on its servers. Among the porn tutorials sold by Lemarque was one offering instruction on how to shoot your own sex videos. The site also contained a flashing link with the words "TEENS TEENS TEENS" that went to another Lemarque site where the X-rated photos featured women clearly beyond 19. Another Lemarque web site offered sophomoric sex cartoons drawn by the former Neverland employee (click here to see two examples).
After shuttering his online porn business, Lemarque launched a web site covering the southern California restaurant scene. And while Lemarque and wife Stella primarily report on wine tastings and L.A.'s top chefs, Jackson also figures into their new venture. On a section of the site dedicated to their Jackson tenure, Lemarque tells of authoring a book about the couple's experience at Neverland Ranch, "especially Michael's behavior which at time puzzle the public."
Offering a "glimpse of this prestigious and sinful hideaway," Lemarque's book also addresses "the most hush, hush topic at the ranch that barely anyone has ever unveiled--the 'Ghosts of Never Land Valley.'" Previous versions of the Lemarque site, besteatz.com, offered visitors the chance, for $4.95, to download "the Complete Chapter of our stay at: Michael Jackson's Never Land Valley." But with Lemarque poised to testify against his famous former employer, his Jackson e-book is no longer available--it's simply said to be "coming soon."