INTERNATIONAL

Accuser describes "molestation" by Jackson

SANTA MARIA (CALIFORNIA), MARCH 11. In testimony that was hushed and sometimes mumbled, Michael Jackson's accuser described a night at the Neverland ranch that he said started off in the arcade and ended in the entertainer's bed.

Mr. Jackson — in pajama bottoms, slippers and a suit coat — arrived in court more than an hour late because of a trip to an emergency room for what his lawyers described as a serious back problem caused by a fall. The judge threatened to have him arrested and revoke his $3 millions bail if he did not come to court, but vacated the arrest warrant after Mr. Jackson arrived.

Under questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the boy began his second day on the stand by describing how he and Mr. Jackson drank alcohol and looked at sex magazines together.

The boy said Mr. Jackson molested him twice, both times in the singer's bedroom. He said they both were dressed in pairs of Mr. Jackson's pajamas.

The second incident occurred ``about a day after'' the first encounter.

Differing testimony

The accuser's testimony differed from his 14-year-old brother's description of witnessing two molestations, and it was unclear if they were talking about the same alleged incidents. The brother said Mr. Jackson and the boy were in underwear and that the boy was asleep. The brother also said the boy was on top of the bedcovers. The defence attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., accused the witness of making up the story after meeting with an attorney. ``No, I never told him about anything,'' the boy said, referring to the lawyer. He acknowledged that he and his family went back to Neverland several times after meeting attorneys.

``Only after you met with Larry Feldman you started talking about inappropriate touching,'' said Mr. Mesereau, referring to a lawyer who had represented another boy in allegations against Mr. Jackson in 1993.

``I never told Larry Feldman,'' said the boy.

Mr. Mesereau then attacked the accuser's testimony that the boy did not feel that Mr. Jackson had done much for him when he had cancer. ``I didn't see him much,'' the boy said. ``He was my best friend in the world and my best friend was trying to avoid me when I had cancer.''

Mr. Mesereau then ticked off a list of things he said Mr. Jackson did for the boy — calling him three times a week during his cancer treatment, inviting him to Neverland, allowing him and his family to move into the luxury estate, having them fly to a resort where they received spa treatments and giving him gifts.

Prosecutors allege the family was held against their will at the ranch and the other locations because Mr. Jackson wanted them to help him rebut a documentary in which he held hands with the accuser and talked about sharing his bed with children. — AP