- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — In a riveting episode of courtroom drama, the mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser sobbed, snapped her fingers, affected a German accent, implored jurors not to judge her and exclaimed: “I’ve waited two years for this.”

If Mr. Jackson’s child-molestation trial were being televised, some might have scoffed that she was playing to the cameras. But there are no cameras inside this trial, which is shaping up as one of the wildest in California’s colorful history of jurisprudence.

The boy’s mother is not the first witness in the trial’s six weeks to treat the courtroom as a personal stage. Comedians kept the mood light with wisecracks, a lawyer sparred verbally with an attorney questioning him, and even the judge has been known to offer a few quips.

But the mother has been the most dramatic — her demeanor changing each day.

Beyond the vivid courtroom scenes, she is perhaps as important as her son to the prosecution’s case.

Without her, the conspiracy count against Mr. Jackson probably would fail. Prosecutors say the pop star conspired to isolate and control the boy’s family — a count that lists 28 purported overt acts, 20 of which are based on the woman’s story.

Her credibility also reflects on her children’s testimony, most importantly her son’s claims of molestation, because the defense is likely to argue that she coached them to lie.

Her son says Mr. Jackson, 46, molested him in early 2003, when he was 13 and recovering from cancer.

Mr. Jackson denies the accusations, and his lawyer is challenging the mother’s credibility.

In her first day on the stand, the accuser’s mother extended her arms to jurors and implored: “Please don’t judge me.”

She almost scuttled her entire testimony by invoking Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination if asked about welfare fraud and perjury. The judge told jurors to draw no inferences from the refusal but said the defense may explore the issues through other witnesses.

Jurors saw two different faces of the mother — one a glamorously coifed figure shown in a video praising Mr. Jackson as a father figure, the other the plainly dressed woman on the witness stand denying virtually everything her videotaped self said.

She maintained that the videotaped testimonial was scripted by Mr. Jackson’s cohorts.

“I was acting,” she insisted, adding at one point: “I’m a poor actress.”

“No,” shot back Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. “I think you’re a good one.”

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville reprimanded both the lawyer and the witness for their remarks.

At one point, she listened to herself on tape praising Mr. Jackson’s kindness during her time at Neverland.

“Now I know different,” she said during questioning. “I know that Neverland is all about booze, pornography and sex with boys.”

Mr. Mesereau also focused on what he calls the woman’s bogus lawsuit against a department store. The family received more than $150,000 in 2001, after saying they were roughed up by J.C. Penney’s security guards.

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