Comediante revela intentos de "vender" acusación contra Jackson

SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) — A comedian testified Tuesday that the father of the teenager at the center of Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial pressed her for money.
Additionally, Louise Palanker testified that the teenager’s mother did not ask her for money. Jackson attorneys have portrayed the mother as the greedy and vengeful force behind the child molestation allegations against the pop star.
Palanker also testified that after the airing of an ABC documentary in February 2003, which showed the pop star holding hands with his then-13-year-old accuser, she received an «extremely disturbing» phone call from mother, who was agitated and fearful and warned Palanker that their conversation was being monitored.
«I thought they were being held against their will,» said Palanker, who also said the mother told her that «these people are evil.»
The prosecution contends that in the weeks after the ABC documentary aired, the boy, his mother and two siblings were being held against their will by Jackson’s associates at Neverland Ranch and a Los Angeles hotel. By that time, the boy’s parents were divorced.
Palanker said the mother did not say where she was calling from, and did not identify whom the mother was referring to as «evil.»
Palanker also said she remains in contact with the mother and the boy and considers them friends.
«He’s been honest in the face of others wishing him not to be,» she said, referring to Jackson’s accuser.
However, under cross-examination, Palanker admitted that when she was interviewed by police in January, she spoke of the family in less glowing terms.
She conceded she told police that the mother was «totally bipolar» and «very excitable,» and also said that «this family can be as wacky as they want to be.» But Palanker said she was probably exaggerating and engaging in «hyperbole» that is her stock and trade as a comedian.
Jackson made an on-time arrival Tuesday morning at the Santa Maria courthouse, accompanied by his parents — a day after turning up late with a doctor in tow, appearing dazed and professing to be in pain.
In contrast to his arrival on Monday, when he walked slowly and appeared to be somewhat disconnected, Jackson appeared alert on Tuesday, walking more rapidly despite being supported on either side by bodyguards.
Boy’s father ‘didn’t seem to hear me’
In her testimony, Palanker said she first met Jackson’s accuser and his family in the summer of 1999, when the children attended a camp for disadvantaged children at the Laugh Factory, a Los Angeles comedy club. At the time, they were living in a one-room apartment, sleeping on mattresses on the floor, she said.
In June 2000, when the boy was diagnosed with cancer, she began visiting him two or three times a week in the hospital and became «very close.» She said she decided on her own to give the family $10,000 so the father could take time off from work to be with the boy.
Palanker said the father then began «continuously» asking her for money, telling her that the family was financially strapped. She finally agreed to give them another $10,000, telling that «that would have to be it,» but she said he did not stop.
«He didn’t seem to hear me,» she said.
Palanker also said she was involved in putting together two benefits for the family at the Laugh Factory, which netted between $800 and $1,000 each. The mother attended neither event, but the father was directly given cash and checks from the second fund-raiser, she said.
She also said the father got into a dispute with comedian George Lopez, who also had befriended the family, over a wallet the accuser said he left at Lopez’s house. When the wallet was found, the father insisted $300 was missing, leading to a rift with Lopez that resulted in a public screaming match between them, she said.
The judge ruled last week that Lopez could be called as a witness to discuss the incident.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. painted the accuser’s mother as the force behind the allegations against Jackson, charging that she repeatedly used her son’s illness to extract money from celebrities and then turned on a wary Jackson when he tried to distance himself.
«When the family found out that they were not going to live at Neverland forever, they realized that they weren’t going to get rich, that’s when their story changed and the accusations began,» Mesereau said.
However, the accuser, his sister and his younger brother all testified that their father was controlling and abusive. The children said they stopped having contact with him after the parents split up — which happened before the boy says Jackson molested him.
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 the boy, now 15, at Neverland, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive in 2003.
Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
CNN’s Dree De Clamecy contributed to this report

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