- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2004

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Michael Jackson’s attorneys battled yesterday to get crucial evidence in his child abuse case thrown out of court, a day after the singer’s Hollywood-style court appearance.

Mr. Jackson’s legal team is trying to prove that prosecutor Thomas Sneddon broke attorney-client confidentiality rules as he launched the case against him last year.

The defendant’s attorneys are asking Judge Rodney Melville to toss out evidence, including videotapes and computer disks, seized during a raid on the office of a private investigator who worked for Mr. Jackson’s former attorney Mark Geragos.

Mr. Jackson’s team yesterday questioned witnesses about the Nov. 18 search of the singer’s Neverland Ranch and on the offices of private eye Bradley Miller.

The witnesses included psychologist Stan Katz, who counseled the boy who accused Mr. Jackson of plying him with alcohol and molesting him at Neverland last year when the boy was 12.

It was Mr. Katz who alerted police last year after the boy and his brother were referred to him by the family’s attorney, Larry Feldman. The referral came after Mr. Jackson appeared in a TV documentary holding hands with the youngster.

“Feldman asked me to interview the children to ascertain the veracity of what they told him,” Mr. Katz said. He refused to discuss details of his relationships with his patients.

But Mr. Katz also counseled Mr. Miller, the detective, the court heard yesterday.

Mr. Jackson’s attorney, Brian Oxman, quizzed the psychologist in a bid to prove that authorities must have known that the private investigator worked for Mr. Geragos.

But Mr. Oxman ran into trouble with the judge when he repeatedly tried to ask the psychologist about conversations with his patients. Judge Melville slapped Mr. Oxman with an immediate $1,000 fine for not backing away from questions that infringed upon doctor-patient privilege.

Mr. Jackson was not in court for the second in a five-day series of technical pretrial hearings.

On Monday, Mr. Jackson and his famous siblings made a show-business-style appearance, although the singer was not required to be in court.

Mr. Jackson, dressed in a white suit and dark glasses, arrived at court in a customized tour bus along with his parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson, his singing sisters LaToya and Janet, and his brothers Jermaine, Randy and Jackie.

In 1993, Mr. Jackson was accused of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy. The district attorney tried to prosecute Mr. Jackson on that charge, but the case dissolved after the singer reached an out-of-court settlement with the youngster, paying the boy a reported $15.3 million.

In the current case, Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts, including child molestation, kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion plots. He is free on $3 million bail. The trial is scheduled for January.

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