Alleged abuse victim admits changing his story

A youth pastor who claims Michael Jackson molested him three times admitted today that he originally denied any wrongdoing to police.

A youth pastor who claims Michael Jackson molested him three times admitted today that he originally denied any wrongdoing to police.

Jason Francia, 24, has told Santa Maria court, California, that the pop star abused him three times as a young boy, groping him as they played at his Neverland ranch.

Under-cross-examination he revealed that in his first interview he told detectives Jackson had not molested him.

Defence lawyer Tom Mesereau suggested he had been bullied into making the allegations and asked whether the police had become aggressive.

But Mr Francia said he could not remember details of the interview.

He has already told the court that he initially denied it because he did not want people to think he was gay and desperately wanted to forget the incident and put it behind him.

“I was scared,” he said.

Mr Francia, whose mother worked as a maid at Neverland, described how he used to play in Jackson’s “hideout” while his mother cleaned.

He broke down in the witness box yesterday as he recalled how Jackson’s hand had allegedly slid up his shorts and touched his testicles for some two or three minutes.

Mr Francia and his mother, Blanca, received a settlement of more than £1.06 million ( 2 million) from Jackson in 1994.

Blanca Francia took the stand after her son and began to described how she cleaned Jackson’s so-called “hideout” apartment in Los Angeles.

Mr Francia has claimed she found money Jackson had stuffed in his pockets after the first two alleged acts of molestation.

Prosecutor Tom Sneddon is seeking to claim that Jackson used similar methods of grooming and molested five boys, including Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, for sexual gratification.

The decision to allow such testimony could significantly bolster the current case against the star, brought by Gavin Arvizo and his family.

But Mr Francia is the only one of the so-called “Jackson Five” expected to appear in court.

Michael Jackson denies all the charges he faces.

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