- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — Holding her arms out to the jury, the mother of Michael Jackson’s teenage accuser sobbed and pleaded, “Please don’t judge me?”as she recounted her family’s involvement with the pop star in testimony yesterday.

The woman’s turn on the witness stand came after Judge Rodney S. Melville allowed her to testify despite her refusal to discuss purported welfare fraud — an issue on which the defense had hoped to attack her credibility. She invoked the Fifth Amendment in fending off that line of questioning.

Looking directly at the jury during a convoluted and sometimes tearful account, the woman once punctuated her words by snapping her fingers and later affected the German accent of a Jackson associate. She addressed journalists directly at one point, and at other times glanced at Mr. Jackson, who sat motionless at the defense table.

Mr. Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, plying the boy with alcohol, and holding his family captive in February and March 2003 to get them to help rebut a damaging TV documentary.

The accuser’s mother said Mr. Jackson had convinced her that her children were in danger, that there were “killers” after them, and that he was the only one who could protect them.

She then offered an account, in conflict with testimony of other witnesses, in which she described seeing Mr. Jackson lick her son’s head during a February 2003 flight from Miami to California on a private jet.

“Everyone was asleep. I had not slept for so long,” she said. “I got up. I figured this was my chance to figure out what was going on back there. And that’s when I saw Michael licking [the boy’s] head.”

Defense attorneys raised questions about the woman’s credibility by accusing her of bilking celebrities and committing welfare fraud.

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