Nuevos giros favorecen a Jackson

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) — The lead investigator in the Jackson case said he was not aware until five months into his investigation that the teenage accuser and his family made video and audio tapes lauding Jackson and denying child molestation allegations.
Also Tuesday, the accuser said he twice denied to a dean at his middle school that anything sexual had happened between him and Jackson because he was embarrassed and «the kids were making fun of me.»
«I didn’t want anybody to think it really happened,» said the boy, now 15, who was finally allowed to leave the stand Tuesday after a tough defense cross-examination over the course of three days in Jackson’s trial.
However, another inconsistency in the boy’s testimony arose later Tuesday, when defense attorneys introduced portions of a police interview in which the boy said Jackson had manually stimulated him to ejaculation five times.
On the stand, the accuser said that happened only twice, while they were sleeping alone together at Neverland Ranch two years ago, when he was 13.
Jackson, 46, was indicted last April by a state grand jury on 10 felony counts for incidents that allegedly occurred in February and March 2003.
The charges include four counts of committing a lewd act on a child; one count of conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion; one count of attempting to commit a lewd act on a child; and four counts of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Investigators and the tapes
On Tuesday, Sgt. Steve Robell of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, said neither the accuser nor his brother or sister mentioned the existence of the laudatory video and audio tapes during two sets of police interviews in July and August 2003.
Robell, who headed the investigation into boy’s accusations against Jackson, said the boy’s mother «may have mentioned» the videotape in her interviews.
Robell said he did not become aware of the existence of the tapes until November 18, 2003, the day investigators searched Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
The audiotape, made by a private investigator employed by Jackson’s attorney, and the videotape, made by his videographer, were played earlier in the trial. The accuser and his siblings testified that they were coached on how to answer questions during the tapings and urged to offer Jackson support — and that much of what they said was untrue.
Under defense questioning Tuesday, Robell also defended comments he made during an interview with the family, assuring them that «we’re going to try our best to make this case» though he couldn’t guarantee the outcome.
Robell also told the family that they were «doing the right thing here» and that «I don’t care how much money Jackson has, but he’s done wrong.»
Defense attorney Robert Sanger challenged those comments, saying they showed Robell was not objective during the investigation. But Robell said he was trying only trying to reassure family members, who were «terrified» about coming forward, and that it was an accepted police technique.
Case closed, then reopened
Investigators called to the stand Tuesday said the probe into Jackson initially began after the airing of a ABC documentary in February 2003, showing him holding hands with his accuser and defending his practice of letting young boys sleep in his bed.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department was contacted by the state Children and Family Services Division, which had received two complaints against Jackson based on his behavior and comments in the program, according to investigators.
Terry Flaa, who in 2003 was a detective with the sheriff’s department, testified that those complaints were filed with child welfare officials by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred and Carol Lieberman, a television psychiatrist, neither of whom had any firsthand knowledge of abuse.
Flaa, now an officer with the Santa Maria police, said he looked into the complaints and concluded that there was no evidence of criminal behavior by Jackson. He recommended that the case be closed.
Flaa testified that his conclusion was based on an interview Jackson’s accuser and members of his family gave to child welfare workers, as well as an interview Flaa conducted with the accuser’s father.
Flaa said the accuser and members of the teen’s family had told welfare workers nothing sexual happened between the boy and Jackson.
But the investigation was revived in June 2003 when Larry Feldman, a Los Angeles attorney representing the accuser’s family, called Lt. Jeff Klapakis, Flaa’s supervisor at the sheriff’s department, who had signed off on his decision to end the earlier investigation.
Feldman also represented the family of a boy who had made child molestation allegations against Jackson in 1993. That case ended after the family reached a financial settlement with Jackson, who did not admit guilt.
Jackson’s supporters have characterized the current charges as part of a vendetta by Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon, fueled by his frustration at not being able to prosecute Jackson a decade ago.
‘I don’t really like him anymore’
Tuesday’s testimony began with the boy facing a final flurry of questions from lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr.
Mesereau asked the boy if he knew that he had until age 18 to file a civil suit against Jackson — and that if Jackson were convicted of the criminal charges, he would automatically win that suit. The boy said he did not, and insisted that his family is not after money.
The defense attorney also repeatedly pressed the boy on why he never complained or sought help during the time the prosecution alleges he and his family were being held against their will at Neverland in February and March 2003.
The boy said he didn’t call for help because «I was happy at Neverland.» He said it wasn’t until after he departed for the ranch for good, in March, that «I realized I didn’t want to be there.»
Under follow-up questioning by district attorney Sneddon, the boy said his classmates laughed at him and teased him, saying «that’s the kid that was raped by Michael Jackson.» He said that the fights and disciplinary problems he had at school, also brought out by the defense Monday, were the result of the teasing — and that he fought back only after he was hit.
The boy testified that he is now on the honor roll at school, gets good grades and no longer has any disciplinary problems.
The accuser, who earlier testified that he had been «kind of hypnotized» by Jackson after meeting him and spending time at his Neverland ranch, also said Tuesday that his opinion of Jackson has changed.
«I don’t really like him anymore,» he said. «I don’t think he’s really deserving of the respect I was giving him as the coolest guy in the world.»
CNN’s Dree De Clamecy contributed to this report

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