Jackson accuser made 'unusual' calls to me, Jay Leno tells court

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The Independent US

The Michael Jackson child abuse trial reached a new level of celebrity octane yesterday as the defence, close to wrapping up its case, called the television comedian Jay Leno to the stand.

The Michael Jackson child abuse trial reached a new level of celebrity octane when the defence, close to wrapping up its case, called the late-night television comedian Jay Leno to the stand.

Mr Leno, who is well known for regularly skewering the King of Pop on his nightly comedy show on the NBC network, told jurors that he had received a series of unsolicited telephone calls in 2000 from the boy who is Mr Jackson's accuser. His suspicion at the time was that the boy was looking for money. The defence team called on Mr Leno to make the argument that the boy and his family were out for money from celebrities and that Mr Jackson was one of the targets. When he called Mr Leno the boy was suffering from cancer.

Describing the calls as "overly effusive", Mr Leno said the boy told him in voice mails that he was one of his heroes. "The voicemails were: 'Oh, I'm a big fan, you're the greatest.' They were overly effusive for a 10-year-old." He said he considered that that was odd, given that he was a comedian in his fifties and the boy wasn't even in his teens. "I'm not Batman. It seemed a little unusual," testified Mr Leno, who said he makes around 10 to 15 calls every week to young children with diseases.

Mr Leno said that at no point did the boy actually ask for cash. "I wasn't asked for money nor did I send any," he told the jury. He added that he did, however, once call the boy back in his hospital room. He recalled speaking to the boy, his brother and his mother.

While the defence had indicated Mr Leno had contacted police about the calls, on the stand Mr Leno said police had first contacted him. There was no explanation why they would have done that, however.

On his show on Monday night, Mr Leno made fun of the paradox of appearing to defend a singer he has so relentlessly lampooned.

"I was called by the defence. Apparently they have never seen this programme," he joked.

Mr Jackson's leading lawyer, Tom Mesereau, confirmed that the star would not be taking the stand when he told the court that the last witness would be the comedian Chris Tucker, best known for co-starring with Jackie Chan in the "Rush Hour" series of films. Mr Mesereau had earlier on in the trial hinted Mr Jackson may take the stand.

Mr Leno was followed by Mary Holzer, the office manager of the law firm that represented the boy's family when they won a substantial settlement in a civil assault case.

Ms Holzer said the mother told her that body bruises depicted in photographs used in the case had been inflicted by her then-husband and not by store security guards, as she had claimed in the lawsuit.

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