- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — The property manager at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch testified yesterday that the pop star had special relationships with girls and women as well as boys. But the witness struggled to come up with examples.

“Besides his wives?” asked Joe Marcus, a witness for the defense. “He has friends. Elizabeth Taylor. … I’m drawing a blank on a few of the names. … There were — other women.”

When prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss pressed him for names, Mr. Marcus said: “Liza Minnelli has been there. They seem to be good friends.”

“OK, so we’re up to two,” Mr. Auchincloss said, raising an objection from the defense.

Mr. Marcus, an 18-year employee, was called by the defense to counter former ranch employees who had testified against Mr. Jackson.

The 46-year-old star is accused of molesting a boy and conspiring to hold the youngster’s family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary.

Mr. Marcus testified that he was never ordered to hold the family members captive and that they seemed excited to be there.

He said an order in the ranch log instructing guards not to let the boy or his brother leave was based on safety concerns, because the boys often drove vehicles around the property. He said he did not want them taking the vehicles onto the open road.

“Did you ever receive any instructions from anyone to hold the [family] against their will?” Jackson attorney Robert Sanger asked.

“No,” Mr. Marcus said.

Prosecutors also say Jackson associates planned to send the family on a one-way trip to Brazil. But Mr. Marcus said the family never objected to the trip and only wanted to know where to have passport pictures taken.

Under cross-examination, Mr. Marcus admitted that he lied to law-enforcement officials during a 2003 search of Neverland when he said he had no knowledge of Mr. Jackson’s sharing his bed with children.

At one point during the intense questioning, Mr. Auchincloss said to the witness, “You keep looking at Mr. Jackson. Why is that?”

The defense raised an objection, and the judge sustained it.

The prosecutor then asked Mr. Marcus whether he was a loyal employee to Mr. Jackson. He answered “Yes.”

Mr. Auchincloss also asked whether Mr. Marcus knew that Mr. Jackson had pornographic materials at the ranch. Mr. Marcus said no, but acknowledged that dolls in suggestive attire were kept on Mr. Jackson’s desk. He called them “artwork.”

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