- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson’s attorney vowed yesterday to “land like a ton of bricks” on anyone who attacks the singer and charged that the molestation accusations against him were motivated by money, saying Mr. Jackson “is not going to be a pinata.”

“If anybody doesn’t think based upon what’s happened so far that the true motivation of these charges and these allegations is anything but money and the seeking of money, is living in their own Neverland,” attorney Mark Geragos said, referring to the singer’s California estate.

Mr. Geragos’ pledge to mount a vigorous defense against those who try to damage Mr. Jackson’s reputation came after revelations that he and the entertainer were videotaped secretly while flying on a private jet to Santa Barbara last week for Mr. Jackson’s surrender.

Mr. Geragos said he obtained a temporary court order barring anyone connected to the airline from showing the tapes.

“Michael Jackson is not going to be abused,” Mr. Geragos said. “Michael Jackson is not going to be slammed, is not going to be a pinata.”

Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara County district attorney pushed back the anticipated filing of molestation charges against Mr. Jackson to mid-December.

The delay will allow development of a Web site for public posting of court-related information in the case, District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon said.

Mr. Sneddon had told a Nov. 19 news conference that charges would be filed “in a very short period of time.” By week’s end, he announced that the charges would not be filed until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The family of the child making the accusations against Mr. Jackson was involved in two previous cases that involved abuse accusations: a lawsuit in which the family said they were battered by mall security guards, and a divorce fight in which the father pleaded no contest to spousal abuse and child cruelty.

In November 2001, court documents show, J.C. Penney Co. paid the boy’s family $137,500 to settle a lawsuit charging that security guards beat the boy, his mother and his brother in a parking lot after the boy left the store carrying clothes that hadn’t been purchased. The mother also contended that she was sexually assaulted by one of the guards during the 1998 confrontation.

A month before the settlement, the boy’s mother had filed for divorce. The father’s attorney, Russell Halpern, said the mother had lied about the abuse and had a “Svengali-like” ability to make her children repeat her lies. Mr. Halpern said he had seen scripts that the woman wrote for her children’s testimony.

Evidence of past lying by the accuser would be “music to a defense attorney’s ears,” said Leonard Levine, a lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases.

“Once you can get evidence in that there’s previous evidence that either the child or the parents have fabricated evidence or testimony, you’re 90 percent to an acquittal,” Mr. Levine added.

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