Michael Jackson’s teenage accuser said today he told a school administrator the singer did not molest him because he wanted to avoid teasing by classmates.
Gavin Arvizo, 15, was answering questions from District Attorney Tom Sneddon after Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau concluded his lengthy cross-examination.
It was revealed yesterday that Gavin had told a dean at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles that nothing had happened to him during stays at Jackson’s Neverland ranch.
The conversation was prompted by Martin Bashir’s TV documentary that showed Jackson with the boy and in which Jackson acknowledged sharing his bed with children, although he characterised it as innocent and non-sexual.
Gavin testified that when he returned from his last stay at Neverland in March 2003, schoolmates made fun of him, saying he had been “raped” by Jackson.
He said he got in several fights as a result and had to talk to the dean, who asked him if he had been molested.
Gavin said: “I told him that it didn’t happen. All the kids were already making fun of me at the school and I didn’t want anyone to think it had really happened.” He also said he once got in a fight for refusing to join a gang.
On Monday, Mesereau questioned the boy about a history of disciplinary problems as he sought to show that the boy talked back to teachers, disrupted classes and fought with other students.
Before Gavin left the stand, Sneddon asked him what he thinks of Jackson 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.”
Mesereau completed his cross-examination by quizzing Gavin about times when he and his family left Neverland during a period that prosecutors claim they were captives.
Gavin said he didn’t take advantage of several opportunities to escape because he didn’t want to leave.
Prosecutors contend the boy’s family was held captive for more than a month because Jackson wanted to get them to make a video rebutting the damaging TV documentary about Jackson that aired on February 6, 2003.
Mesereau asked him about several trips he took from Neverland to surrounding communities and asked him why he didn’t try to get help on the trips.
“Those first few escapes you talked about – I liked being at Neverland. It was like Disneyland,” Gavin said.
The boy said his mother was the one who wanted to escape.
He said he didn’t want to flee Neverland until the family left for good in March 2003. He said his mother was the one who wanted to leave.
“Your mother was worried but she always came back?” Mesereau asked.
“I guess so,” Gavin replied, Mesereau noted that Gavin left Neverland to go the dentist and to go shopping at Toys R Us, among other trips during February 2003.
The boy said when he went to Toys R Us his mother remained behind at Neverland “where they could keep her".
He also said that 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.
On Monday, Mesereau depicted the boy as vengeful and angry over being evicted from the lush life of Neverland.
The boy said he envisioned a future with Jackson as a mentor in a sort of Big Brother programme. But the Neverland idyll that began when the boy had cancer ended with the family being delivered by limousine to a grandmother’s house.
Jackson, 46, is on trial in Santa Maria, California, accused of molesting Gavin.
Prosecutors allege Jackson, plied the boy, a cancer survivor, with alcohol and molested him at his Neverland Ranch in 2003.