MICHAEL JACKSON CASE Stepfather admits to asking for money to rebut charges
The couple were disappointed in the amount the press offered for the story.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The stepfather of Michael Jackson's accuser acknowledged in court on Thursday that he and the boy's mother had demanded payment for saying complimentary things about the beleaguered star.
The career Army officer, referred to in court only as "Mr. Doe," said the woman, who is now his wife, had been offered a house and a college education for her three children in return for appearing in a video rebutting allegations that Jackson had a fondness for young boys.
However, the offer by "a gentleman from Neverland" appeared to strike the couple as an empty gesture.
"I said that's all well and good, but you're making millions off this," the man said he told Jackson's representative, who was not identified in court. "What are you willing to do for this little family financially?"
The testimony provided ammunition for both sides. Jackson's lawyers have said that the child molestation charges against their client stemmed from a shakedown orchestrated by the 12-year-old boy's mother.
On the other hand, the testimony added weight to the prosecution's theory that Jackson had applied unusual pressure to secure the family's participation in his so-called rebuttal video.
Under questioning from Jackson's lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., the man also recalled that he and the boy's mother had been disappointed over what they saw as skimpy offers from the media for their story. He said they turned down an offer of $15,000 from two British journalists.
On the witness stand at a weeklong pretrial hearing, the man painted a picture of a family enmeshed in a relationship with Jackson that shifted unpredictably between loving and loathing.
According to the man, whose name has been withheld by officials to protect his stepson's privacy, the mother and her children were Jackson's house guests at Neverland for months in 2003. At one point, however, he said he had called authorities in Santa Barbara after she had given him the impression that she was at the ranch "under duress."
About a week later she returned home to Los Angeles and he called off the police.
"I don't know the details of how or why she returned," he said. "She kept me in the dark about that."