Jackson trial: Accuser's mother 'has a history of making false claims'

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The Independent US

Stand steady! Take a deep breath! The first "bombshell" to rock the case of Michael Jackson has been dropped - before the trial has even properly started.

Stand steady! Take a deep breath! The first "bombshell" to rock the case of Michael Jackson has been dropped - before the trial has even properly started.

On Monday morning, Jackson's lawyers will present evidence to a California court that the mother of his teenage accuser has a history of making false accusations about sexual assaults. It will also claim that she has coached him to make false allegations. "[We hope to demonstrate] a pattern of false accusations involving sexual assault," Jackson's defence counsel, Thomas Mesereau, said late on Friday evening.

Jackson, 46, is accused of sexually assaulting a then 13-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch, of plying the boy with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive. The boy is now 15.

Mr Mesereau's announcement came after the judge hearing the case ruled that the defence could present evidence about the accuser's family in a previous lawsuit it had brought against the clothing store JC Penney. In that case, said the defence, the mother claimed that she was beaten and sexually assaulted by JC Penney security guards following a scuffle that broke out when her son - then seven - was accused of shoplifting. The family sued the clothing store and eventually received a settlement of $137,500 (£72,000).

It was reported that the defence will present testimony from a mystery witness - a paralegal who worked at the law firm that represented the woman suing JC Penney. The paralegal has apparently told Jackson's defence team that the woman, known in court papers as Jane Doe to protect the identity of her son, lied under oath and fabricated the charges against the JC Penney security guards. She has further alleged that the bruises suffered by the woman were not inflicted by the guards but by someone else.

The defence will argue before Judge Rodney Melville that the paralegal's testimony goes to the heart of their case - that Jane Doe lied under oath and did so for money. Mr Mesereau told the court on Friday that the day after the alleged beating by guards, the mother returned to the store and hugged employees, and later amended her lawsuit to add a claim that she had been groped. He said she had testified in the JC Penney case that her husband had never hit her, but later alleged in her divorce that he had beaten his family for years.

The lawyer also said the woman had hid assets from the settlement to get welfare payments from Los Angeles County and that she even had her son ask celebrities such as TV comedian Jay Leno for money. She then spent some of the money on cosmetic surgery. While the judge ruled to allow the testimony, there were signs on Friday evening that he was not fully entering into the true spirit of the Jackson trial circus. He chastised Mr Mesereau for conducting a trial by media. "You almost laid out your whole case, not for me, but for other people," Judge Melville said, referring to the Santa Maria courtroom packed with observers, including a dozen reporters.

The prosecutor Ron Zonen said the issue at stake was not how the mother may have spent any money she received. "The question is whether a man who admits to sleeping with children was sleeping with this child, and what he did with this child," he said. The judge also ruled that the prosecution will be able to air a portion of the documentary Living with Michael Jackson, made by the British journalist Martin Bashir, that showed Jackson saying he allowed the small boys with him to sleep in his bed. Mr Bashir is likely to be the first prosecution witness.