Boy who accuses Jackson of sex abuse gives evidence in secret

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The Independent US

A California grand jury meeting in secret has heard testimony from the boy who accused Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed "King of Pop", of sexual assault, according to sources following the proceedings.

A California grand jury meeting in secret has heard testimony from the boy who accused Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed "King of Pop", of sexual assault, according to sources following the proceedings.

Members of the grand jury have been meeting since Monday to hear evidence in the Jackson case. The accuser, who is now 14, was said to have made an appearance on Tuesday. No details of his or anyone else's testimony have been made available.

The prosecutor's office in Santa Barbara has done everything it can to keep the media away from the grand jury's meeting, which included barricading nearby streets. A lawyer representing media groups has appealed to have the restrictions lifted.

If 12 out of the 19 members of the grand jury vote to indict Mr Jackson, the burden on prosecutors to present evidence in pre-trial hearings and convince a judge that the star should stand trial will be eased. Proceedings are expected to last at least another week.

Mr Jackson, 45, was arrested last November and charged by the District Attorney with seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a child aged under 14, and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to the child. The singer has pleaded not guilty on all counts and called the charges a "big lie" concocted to extort money. He was released on $3m (£1.63m) bail.

The boy, who was 12 when the alleged abuse took place, appeared briefly in a BBC documentary presented by Martin Bashir and broadcast in February last year.

He had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy when he was introduced to the star by Jamie Masada, a Los Angeles comedy club owner. Mr Masada is among the witnesses to have testified before the grand jury.

Members heard from Stan Katz, a psychologist who treated the accuser. According to sources, his testimony included details of the boy's alleged encounters with Mr Jackson.

The boy told Mr Katz that his brother had seen him and Mr Jackson engaged in a sex act, and that he was offered wine on some occasions ­ or "Jesus Juice", as Mr Jackson apparently called it.

Mr Jackson was in Washington DC yesterdaymeeting black members of Congress about fighting Aids and HIV in Africa. This evening, he will receive a humanitarian award from an association of wives of African ambassadors.

Theodore Boutros, a lawyer representing several news organisations, including The New York Times and the Associated Press, has filed a complaint with the California appeals court about the unprecedented secrecy surrounding the grand jury. "County officials have invoked an extraordinary, and seemingly unprecedented, approach to grand jury secrecy... that involved moving the grand jury from undisclosed secret location to undisclosed secret location so that the press and public will not know where the jury is meeting," he wrote.

These latest allegations became public when police raided Mr Jackson's California home, Neverland, in November. He turned himself into police, amid a media frenzy, two days later and was formally charged shortly after.

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