- The Washington Times - Friday, June 3, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors during yesterday’s closing arguments that pop star Michael Jackson targeted a vulnerable cancer survivor, brought the little boy “into the world of the forbidden” in his bedroom and molested him.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen defended the testimony of the accuser’s mother, and used charts and graphics to show what he said was a pattern of criminal behavior by Mr. Jackson, 46.

Mr. Zonen argued for nearly two hours before he even brought up child molestation, focusing first on accusations of a complicated conspiracy by Mr. Jackson to hold the accuser’s family against their will.

He said it was toward the end of a period in which the accuser and his family stayed at Mr. Jackson’s Neverland ranch that “the behavior had turned to something terribly illegal.”

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau countered by calling the accuser’s family “con artists, actors and liars.”

Prosecutors, Mr. Mesereau said, engaged in a “nasty attempt, a barbaric attempt” to attack Mr. Jackson personally by bringing up his financial problems, pornography collection and “sagging music career.”

Mr. Jackson is charged with molesting the boy in 2003 — when the accuser was 13 — plying him with wine and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut the documentary “Living With Michael Jackson.” In that TV program, Mr. Jackson held hands with the boy and defended his practice of sleeping with boys in what he said was a nonsexual way.

In the prosecution’s closing argument, Mr. Zonen defended the boy’s mother, saying that, even though she was unaware at that time of any molestation, she insisted that her family leave Neverland. “For all her shortcomings, [the mother], after learning Michael Jackson was giving her son alcohol, in 36 hours she had her children out of there,” Mr. Zonen said.

Mr. Mesereau countered in Mr. Jackson’s defense by mocking the mother’s history of lawsuits and welfare fraud by repeating the question: “Was she asking for money?” The real issue of the trial was “whether the accuser’s family was credible,” the defense attorney said.

The prosecution ridiculed as “nonsense … unmitigated rubbish” the defense’s contention that the boy’s mother made up the entire story and prompted her children to lie in order to get wealthy.

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