- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — The teenage boy who says Michael Jackson molested him left the witness stand yesterday after telling jurors that he had denied the abuse to a school administrator because he was tired of classmates making fun of him.

The conversation with the administrator occurred after the broadcast of a TV documentary that showed Mr. Jackson with the boy. In the documentary, the pop star acknowledged sharing his bed with children but characterized the practice as innocent.

The boy, now 15, testified he was harassed by schoolmates who said he had been “raped” by Jackson, and he got into fights as a result. He then was sent to see the school’s dean, who asked him whether Mr. Jackson had molested him.

“I told him that it didn’t happen,” the boy said. “All the kids were already making fun of me at the school and I didn’t want anyone to think it had really happened.”

The testimony came during questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, just before the boy left the witness stand after four days. A day earlier, the defense got the teen to admit under cross-examination that he told the school official nothing happened during stays at Mr. Jackson’s Neverland ranch.

Mr. Sneddon also sought to counter a video showed by Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. showing the boy saying Jackson “was like a father to me.” Mr. Sneddon asked the boy what he thinks of the pop star now.

“I don’t really like him anymore,” the boy said. “I don’t really think he’s deserving of the respect I was giving him as the coolest guy in the world.”

Prosecutors say the boy and his family were held captive for about a month at Neverland while Mr. Jackson used them to make a video rebutting the damaging TV documentary.

Under cross-examination, the boy said he did not take advantage of several opportunities to escape — during trips to the dentist and to go shopping at a toy store — because he did not want to leave.

“Those first few escapes you talked about — I liked being at Neverland. It was like Disneyland,” the boy said. The family left for good in March 2003.

He said even when the family left Neverland, Jackson employees kept a close eye on them. “They never wanted us to be in separate areas. They wanted us to be together,” he said.

Mr. Mesereau also asked the boy whether he knew he had until age 18 to file a civil lawsuit against Mr. Jackson and that winning a criminal conviction would help such a lawsuit. The boy said he was unaware of either issue.

Later yesterday, sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Robel showed items seized from Mr. Jackson’s ranch, including a black-and-white image of a nude woman and a sex magazine called Teenage, featuring a woman on the cover.

Under questioning by defense attorney Robert Sanger, Sgt. Robel said he didn’t know of any witness who saw the items, and that they were not illegal. Mr. Sanger noted the black-and-white nude is a collector’s item.

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