Jackson's aides 'tried to smear mother of alleged victim'

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The Independent US

A public relations executive testifying against Michael Jackson said yesterday that the singer's aides deliberately set about smearing the mother of the 13-year-old boy he is alleged to have molested, saying they would present her to the public as a "crack whore".

A public relations executive testifying against Michael Jackson said yesterday that the singer's aides deliberately set about smearing the mother of the 13-year-old boy he is alleged to have molested, saying they would present her to the public as a "crack whore".

In the first truly damaging witness testimony against the singer, Ann Gabriel Kite told the jury she had been hired as part of a damage control operation after the airing of Martin Bashir's documentary Living With Michael Jackson in February 2003. Although she did only six days' work, she described her disquiet at learning that the boy and his family had unexpectedly left Mr Jackson's Neverland Ranch, and her even greater disquiet at learning the situation had been "contained" and the family brought back.

"Don't make me believe that these people were hunted down like dogs and brought back to the ranch," she recalled telling her former boyfriend, a Jackson lawyer. Later, when she contacted the ex-boyfriend again, she recalled: "He said that they no longer had to worry about [the mother] because they had her on tape and they were going to make her look like a crack whore."

Mr Jackson's lawyers began the day doing their best to prevent Ms Kite from testifying at all, bringing proceedings to a temporary halt as they challenged her credentials as a Jackson employee. As they had done 24 hours earlier with Mr Bashir, who only appeared as a prosecution witness under duress, they sought unsuccessfully to have her testimony struck from the record.

Once she was back on the stand, Ms Kite confirmed the prosecution's contention that the documentary was a disaster for the Jackson camp. She also alluded to previous allegations, made in 1993 and subsequently settled out of court, that Mr Jackson had sexually molested another teenage boy.

Judge Melville has not yet ruled on whether the 1993 case is admissible in this trial, but he allowed Ms Kite to continue answering questions on it in the context of her public relations role. "In combination with the Bashir documentary I felt it was beyond a disaster," she said. The raising of the 1993 affair ­ which gave rise to a startlingly explicit affidavit by the then alleged victim ­ was seen as a point for the prosecution, because it established the possibility of a pattern of behaviour by Mr Jackson.

The defence is seeking to dismiss the alleged victim in the current case, a 13-year-old recovering cancer patient, as an ill-behaved member of an out-of-control family interested only in skimming money from celebrities. The trial continues.

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