- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) - The stepfather of Michael Jackson’s accuser yesterday testified that after the broadcast of a damaging TV documentary about Mr. Jackson, an associate of the pop star offered the family a college education and a house.

But the stepfather said when he sought money for the family, he was accused of blackmail.

The stepfather took the stand as the prosecution shifted from witnesses who accuse Mr. Jackson of previous sexual abuse back to the current charges that the singer molested a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, gave him alcohol and conspired to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary.

In the Feb. 6, 2003, documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” Mr. Jackson and the boy appeared on camera, and Mr. Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed but characterized it as innocent.

Part of the stepfather’s testimony dealt with the period leading up to Feb. 19 and 20, 2003, when the boy and his brother, sister and mother made a rebuttal video in which they praised Mr. Jackson.

The stepfather testified he began asking Jackson associate Frank Tyson what monetary compensation would be given to the family if they participated in the rebuttal video.

Mr. Tyson has been named by prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in Mr. Jackson’s case.

“I said, ‘What are you offering this family to do this?’” the stepfather said. He quoted Mr. Tyson as replying, “We’re offering protection.”

The stepfather continued, “I said, ‘Frank, the family doesn’t need protection. Who are you protecting them from?’”

He said he never received an answer.

As the conversation continued, the witness said, Mr. Tyson “said he was going to offer a college education and a house.” The stepfather said he told Mr. Tyson the family did not need a house or college education, and asked, “What are you offering them monetarily?”

At that point, the witness said, Mr. Tyson replied, “Are you trying to blackmail us?”

The stepfather said he had no idea of any information that could be used for blackmail. He also said he received “zero” money from Mr. Jackson.

The stepfather described a tumultuous time in February 2003 when the mother and children were whisked off to Florida, purportedly to hold a press conference with Mr. Jackson, returned and taken to the Neverland ranch, then brought back to Los Angeles.

During that period, he said, they gave an audio interview to a private investigator, filmed the rebuttal video and were interviewed by child welfare authorities.

Prosecutors say the molestation occurred near the end of the family’s purported captivity.

“And in the middle of all this turmoil, to your knowledge, molestation began on the 20th [of February]?” Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. asked incredulously. The judge sustained an objection and the question was not answered.

The stepfather described a series of calls by the mother from Neverland in which she sounded “distressed, disturbed.”

“She said she was not able to see her children, that when she went off Neverland she had a chaperone,” he said.

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