Boy who accuses Jackson of abuse gives evidence

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The Independent US

The teenage accuser of Michael Jackson took the witness stand yesterday to begin testimony in which he is due to give his account of how two years ago he was allegedly abused by the singer at his Neverland ranch.

The teenage accuser of Michael Jackson took the witness stand yesterday to begin testimony in which he is due to give his account of how two years ago he was allegedly abused by the singer at his Neverland ranch.

Gavin Arvizo, now 15, told the court in Santa Maria, California, how he once thought the singer was "the coolest guy in the world". Mr Jackson, 46, denies abusing the boy, plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive.

Gavin, wearing a bright blue shirt, was asked by the prosecution lawyer Tom Sneddon if he recognised the defendant. He looked unimpressed as he replied that he did.

He spoke clearly and confidently as he described being shown pornography, sleeping in Mr Jackson's bedroom and the moment he first met the British journalist Martin Bashir.

He described how after a few visits to Neverland, Mr Jackson had suddenly became distant and stopped returning his calls.

But in autumn 2002, the pop star called him out of the blue, telling him to come back to take part in the video which was later to trigger the trial.

Gavin claimed Mr Jackson had taken him to one side, asked him if he still wanted to be an actor and said he would get him into the movies, this was his audition. "He said: 'Tell them you call me Daddy and Daddy Michael,"' he told the court. "He told me to say he helped me and that he pretty much cured me of cancer." Asked whether that was true, Gavin said: "Not really. He was hardly there during my cancer."

He claimed it had been Mr Jackson's idea that he and his brother sleep in his bedroom on their second night at Neverland.

He gave similar evidence to his brother Star about being shown pornographic websites.

He described how he had come to first meet Mr Jackson when he was suffering from cancer. Asked how he felt about the star when he first met him, Gavin said he thought he was "the coolest guy in the world".

Earlier, Tom Mesereau, for the defence, sought to discredit Star's evidence by proving he had given several different versions of events. Star, now 14, had told the court he saw Mr Jackson abuse Gavin twice.

But under cross examination he was accused of changing key details in interviews with police, a therapist and the grand jury.

In one account he said he had been lying on a couch pretending to be asleep when he witnessed the second molestation.

But in court he said he had spied both incidents through the door from the hallway outside Mr Jackson's bedroom.

Mr Mesereau bombarded the teenager with questions, asking why his account had changed. "I was nervous when I did the interview," Star said.

"So because you were nervous you didn't get the facts right," the lawyer asked. Star conceded that was the case.

As he was taken through previous interviews, Star admitted he had given contrasting versions of events. He admitted lying to the grand jury about his access to the wine cellar and contradicted his sister's evidence about alcohol.

The court heard about an elaborate security system leading to Mr Jackson's bedroom suite. There was an alarm, cameras, seven locks and a keypad which required a code. Star claims to have seen Mr Jackson molesting his brother through an unlocked door on the stairwell.

The trial continues.

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