Prosecutors Target Jacko in Trial Opener
Santa Barbara, Calif., County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon unveiled the prosecution's child molestation case against Michael Jackson on Monday, saying the pop star exploited his then-13-year-old accuser and exposed the boy to "strange sexual behavior," the Associated Press reports.
The prosecutor addressed the alleged victim by name, telling the court that he could not continue his case without identifying the minor and his family. He said Jackson groped the boy, and one of his associates threatened to kill the accuser's mother if he told anyone.
"(The accuser) will describe to you his sexual experiences with Michael Jackson. He will do it here in open court and he will do it with the whole world watching," Sneddon said.
Judge Rodney S. Melville opened the day in court by reading the indictment against Jackson to the jury, in which the charges against the pop star are outlined and five co-conspirators, who have not been indicted, are named. All five are Jackson employees.
In the indictment, 28 acts were allegedly committed in the conspiracy to keep the molestation under wraps, prosecutors charge. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to Sneddon, the case centered on Jackson's "desperate attempt" to protect his career following the 2003 television documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which the alleged victim is seen holding hands with Jackson, who said on camera that he allowed children to sleep in his bed. The airing of the documentary was "a train wreck," according to one of the co-conspirators, Sneddon said.
All the media were watching as Jackson arrived at the courthouse in Santa Maria on Monday morning. But the public's interest in the case, at least those near the courthouse, seems to have waned. Only a few people showed up outside the courthouse to lend their support to Jackson.
The defense was expected to offer its opening statements later in the day.
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