Son of Jackson maid says tickling escalated to fondling
Judge rebukes Jackson attorney
SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- The son of Michael Jackson's former personal maid testified Monday that Jackson initiated tickling sessions which escalated to the pop star fondling the boy -- after which Jackson would give him a $100 bill and tell him not to tell his mother about the money.
The young man, now 24, told jurors in Jackson's child molestation trial that he was fondled by Jackson on three occasions, with the first incident taking place when he was about 7 years old, at Jackson's apartment hideaway in Hollywood.
The young man said he told no one about what had happened until he was 13 -- about two years after his mother stopped working for Jackson -- when investigators looking into other allegations against Jackson interviewed him.
Under cross-examination, the witness admitted that during a later interview with police, which was taped and transcribed, he denied that he had been improperly touched by Jackson because he did not want to be embarrassed at school.
"I was fighting them with everything I had," he said. "I was trying to figure out how to get out of there."
After finally revealing what had happened, he said went into counseling until he was 18.
"It took a lot of counseling to get over," he said -- a remark that was stricken after the defense objected.
His family later reached an out-of-court settlement with Jackson, before a lawsuit was filed, but he said he wasn't consulted about the legal action. He did not reveal the amount of the settlement; the trial judge had earlier ruled jurors could be told previous cases were settled, but not for how much.
The testimony came during the beginning of the sixth week of the singer's child-molestation trial. Jackson was indicted last April by a state grand jury on 10 felony counts for incidents that allegedly occurred in February and March 2003.
The 46-year-old singer is accused of molesting a boy -- now 15 years old -- at Neverland Ranch, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive in 2003.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Nervous and emotional, Monday's witness, who now works as a youth counselor and pastor, grew tearful and his voice broke as he described what he says happened with Jackson more than 15 years ago.
"This is going to be hard for me to get through. I'm sorry," he said at one point.
The witness described three incidents of alleged fondling by Jackson:When he was about 7, at Jackson's Hollywood apartment, Jackson started tickling him, and the boy started tickling Jackson back. But at some point, Jackson began tickling "my little private region around my crotch area," above his clothes. He said he was laughing from the tickling and thought to himself that "I'm laughing too much."About a year later, on the next occasion when he saw Jackson, the entertainer initiated another tickling session leading to above-clothes genital contact, after sending the boy's mother out of the apartment to buy chips at a store. The witness said he thought to himself that "it's not right." Jackson, as he had after the first incident, gave him a $100 bill. When he was 10, he and Jackson were alone together in a loft in the arcade at Neverland Ranch when Jackson began tickling him while they were in a "spooning" position together on a couch. This time, he said, Jackson reached into his shorts and fondled his testicles, in an episode that lasted two or three minutes. He said Jackson did not give him money on this occasion.
Under defense questioning, the young man said that prior to his testimony Monday, he reviewed the statements he made in 1993 about the alleged incidents. He also revealed that he saw Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon -- the man now prosecuting Jackson -- at one of his counseling sessions, though he said he did not remember why Sneddon was there.
In 1993, Sneddon was involved in a criminal investigation triggered when the family of another 13-year-old boy filed a civil suit against Jackson, alleging molestation. Without admitting guilt, Jackson and the boy's family reached a multimillion-dollar settlement in that case, which ended the criminal probe.
The former maid's son was the first of nine witnesses the prosecution plans to call in an effort to show Jackson had a pattern of grooming young boys for sexual abuse.
Over strong defense objections, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has allowed prosecutors to present evidence about prior allegations, which date back more than a decade and involve five boys between 10 and 13 whom Jackson allegedly singled out.
The young man on the witness stand Monday was the only one of the five who will testify. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon said details of Jackson's conduct toward the other four boys, including child movie star Macaulay Culkin, would come from third-party witnesses who say they witnessed improper behavior.
Culkin, now 24, has said that nothing of a sexual nature happened between him and Jackson. He has not been called as a witness by either side, according to his publicist, and he has expressed a strong desire not to become involved in the case.
House manager says he served alcohol
Earlier Monday, the former house manager at Jackson's Neverland Ranch testified he saw the pop star intoxicated in the presence of children "quite a few times" and once saw him emerge from the ranch's arcade with a group of drunk boys. The arcade has a wine cellar in the basement.
Jesus Salas also told jurors that on one occasion, he took a bottle of wine and four glasses to Jackson's bedroom, where he was staying with several children, including his teenage accuser in the current criminal case and the boy's younger brother.
However, Salas also said Jackson ordered sodas in addition to the wine. When prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss pointed out that he had not mentioned sodas in his police statement about the incident, Salas responded, "It just flipped up into my mind."
Salas also said that while he saw Jackson intoxicated, he didn't see him actually drink. The former manager also said that he once saw Jackson's accuser intoxicated at Neverland at a time when Jackson wasn't there.
Salas described Jackson's oversight of the ranch as hands-on, saying his level of control was "very high." He said Jackson approved all guests who stayed there, including children, and that most of the kids who stayed were boys around 10 or 11 years old.
Salas also said that during a period of time the prosecution alleges the accuser and his family were being held against their will at Neverland in February 2003, the boy's mother never complained about being held captive. Family members left the ranch twice and came back, before leaving for good the third time, he said.
In the first departure, Salas said, he drove the mother, at her request, to Los Angeles in a Rolls Royce. During the ride, she complained about two Jackson associates but said she respected and liked the pop star, Salas said.
On the two subsequent departures, he did not drive the family from the ranch himself because, "I was told not to do that anymore." But he did order a limousine for them when the family left the last time.
Jackson's current accuser has testified that on at least two occasions in February or March 2003, Jackson molested him while they were sleeping alone together at his Neverland Ranch. His younger brother testified that he witnessed two other incidents of molestation of the accuser when he walked into Jackson's bedroom.
CNN's Miguel Marquez and Dree De Clamecy contributed to this report.