A former housekeeper at Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch told the singer’s child molestation trial today that the pop star had close friendships with several boys, aged 10 to 14, and that she saw children she believed to be intoxicated at the estate.
Kiki Fournier also said children who remained at Neverland from a few days to months at a time would sometimes stay in Jackson’s room.
She described children “running wild” without parental supervision and little discipline from Jackson, being permitted to stay up late, eat candy, watch movies and play games.
“They would get in candy-throwing fights in the theatre,” she said, describing how she nicknamed Neverland ”Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island.”
“Sometimes they would get pretty rowdy. … He did let them have a free hand, so to say. They could get pretty rambunctious.”
Jackson’s accuser and his brother were among the children who became wilder the longer they stayed at Neverland, Fournier said.
Asked by prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss if she had ever seen children who appeared to be intoxicated, Fournier said, “I can’t say for sure how many times but I’ve seen it a couple of times.”
She later clarified that it was about three or four times.
She said she once served dinner to Jackson and about four children, three of whom appeared to be intoxicated.
Fournier said she stopped working at Neverland soon after that dinner in September in 2003 but did not give the court her reasons for leaving.
She also said the children who stayed there included actor Macaulay Culkin and Frank Cascio, who became a Jackson employee when he became an adult and is named by the prosecution as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case against the pop star.
Earlier, a TV weatherman who befriended the accuser's family testified that he gave them gifts and helped raise money even though they never asked him for anything.
Fritz Coleman, the weather forecaster in Los Angeles and a standup comedian, had been mentioned in opening statements by the defence, which suggested he was misled by the family into thinking they needed money for medical expenses when they actually had sufficient funds from the father’s union insurance.
But Coleman was called to the stand by the prosecution, which has said the accuser was introduced to Jackson through the owner of a Hollywood club who ran a comedy camp for underprivileged youth.
Coleman said of the boy, his brother and sister: “I found them personable and polite and charismatic.”
He said that he first encountered them in 1999 when he was teaching a class at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, where word spread that the family was impoverished and needed help.
Coleman said he and a friend bought hundreds of dollars worth of gifts and took them to the family’s home at Christmas.
“I got the feeling this might be the only Christmas they would have,” he said, describing how he went to their one-room East Los Angeles apartment, where living spaces were separated by sheets.
Later, he said, he heard that the eldest son had cancer and went to visit him in the hospital.
“He appeared very drawn and pale. This was in the darkest days of his diagnosis when they were not sure he was going to make it. It was very hard to watch,” Coleman said.
After that, he said, he took part in a fund-raiser and blood drive for the boy and made announcements on his TV broadcast urging people to come.
On cross-examination, Coleman said he did not know that the family had collected more than 100,000 in a lawsuit against J.C. Penney and that the mother mentioned him in that suit and had told Los Angeles police that he was going to help her in a domestic violence dispute with her husband.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the then-13-year-old at his Neverland ranch in early 2003, giving him wine, and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a damaging documentary in which Jackson appeared with the boy and said he allowed children to sleep in his bed, a practice he described as non-sexual and innocent.