Cook: I caught Michael Jackson groping child actor Macaulay Culkin
By Lisa Sweetingham
SANTA MARIA, California (Court TV) -- A man who used to cook Michael Jackson late-night snacks told jurors Friday that he once caught the pop star improperly touching then-child actor Macaulay Culkin.
Phillip LeMarque, Jackson's self-described cook and "majordomo" for about 10 months in 1991, testified that the alleged grope transpired shortly after he received a 3 a.m. radio call from security: "The Silver Fox wants French fries."
LeMarque found the Silver Fox -- the name he attributed to Jackson -- in the arcade room.
"Michael was playing with Macaulay Culkin at one of the games, Thriller. He was holding the kid -- he was small, he probably couldn't reach the controls. His left hand was inside the pants of the kid ... down into the pants ... in the crotch area," LeMarque said. "I was shocked. I almost dropped the french fries."
LeMarque said he did not confront Jackson, deciding instead to back out quietly and make a noisy re-entrance to alert the singer of his approach.
When asked why he did not go to police, LeMarque said, "Nobody would have ever believed this."
LeMarque's dark tale rounded out a week of salacious testimony from former Jackson employees -- and one alleged victim who claim that the King of Pop has a history of sexually molesting young boys who were sleepover guests at his Neverland Ranch.
Culkin has publicly denied he was abused, and Jackson was never charged in any of the alleged "prior bad acts."
He maintains he is also innocent of the accusations for which he is currently on trial: repeatedly plying a 13-year-old cancer survivor with wine as a prelude to sexually fondling him in 2003 as they shared his bed.
Jackson, 46, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
While LeMarque's testimony may have troubled jurors, his credibility was an easy target for the defense.
Like several other prosecution witnesses this week, LeMarque admitted that he tried to make money from his story, even meeting with a broker who promised him $100,000 from the tabloid press, maybe more if the story were dirtier.
Was it true that the broker told him the payoff might be higher if Mr. Jackson's hand was inside Culkin's pants, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau asked.
"That's what he said," LeMarque said.
However, he insisted that he and his wife, who was a chef at Neverland, ultimately refused to be tabloid fodder and were never paid for their story.
"We were tempted by the money, for sure. Everybody would be tempted," LeMarque said. "But it was against our principles."
LeMarque's bold declaration drew laughs among press in the overflow listening room, but the irony was likely lost on jurors, as the defense was not allowed to cross-examine him about his foray into the hardcore Internet porn business.
LeMarque reportedly launched a Web site called Virtual Sin in 1997, offering a smorgasbord of video and photos depicting all manner of sexual debauchery. The site is no longer active.
The judge determined it was not relevant to the trial at hand.
Mesereau instead focused on the fact that LeMarque and his wife continued to work at Neverland for several months after the alleged mishandling of Culkin, never reporting the story to anyone but his tabloid broker. That is, until police came knocking.
In 1993, LeMarque talked to investigators who were looking into claims of sexual abuse against another boy. That boy later received more than $20 million in an agreement with Jackson, and the investigation was reluctantly dropped by authorities.
Mesereau pointed out to the witness that in his handwritten deposition, he only gave specific details about Jackson's hands being inside Culkin's pants in a "P.S." at the end of the signed document.
"Why did you want an addendum to what you had already written and signed?" Mesereau asked.
The witness said he could not recall.
"You did it because you wanted to sell a story," Mesereau said, answering his own question.
"Absolutely false," LeMarque sneered.