Michael Jackson’s prosecutors ran into another problem today when a witness did not testify as expected that he may have seen the pop star lick a boy’s head in the 1990s.
They had called Bob Jones, the star’s former publicist, to the stand to testify about an alleged incident on a flight from Paris to Los Angeles.
They wanted Jones to testify that Jackson licked Jordy Chandler’s head to show a pattern of behaviour. Jackson is alleged to have licked the head of his current accuser on a flight from Miami to Santa Barbara in February 2003.
But when asked if he had seen Jackson lick Jordy, Jones responded in the Santa Maria, California, court: “No, sir.”
Prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss then asked whether Jones had said during an interview with Auchincloss, Jones’ lawyer and a sheriff’s investigator that he may have seen Jackson lick the boy’s head.
“I was very adamant in saying I was not sure,” Jones said. “I don’t recall anything about licking. ... I don’t recall ever seeing any head licking.”
Jones was another prosecution witness to testify differently than prosecutors had hoped.
Previously, Jackson’s former house manager testified as a prosecution witness that he had brought wine and soft drinks to Jackson and several boys. Witness Jesus Salas had only told investigators that he brought wine, but said on the stand that he just remembered the soft drinks.
Jones said he had observed some other physical contact between Jackson and Jordy, who received a multimillion-dollar settlement after accusing the pop star of molestation and subsequently declined to participate in a police investigation of that case.
Jones said that at the World Music Awards in Monaco Jordy sat on Jackson’s lap and the boy’s sister also sat on the singer’s lap for a time. He characterised Jackson and the boy as inseparable during the trip and said that on the flight back they huddled closely together as they slept.
Auchincloss then read an excerpt from a book Jones is writing about his experiences with Jackson.
“They were holding each other tightly, almost in a romantic sense,” Auchincloss quoted from the book, which also said Jackson and the boy were cooing and kissing and that Jackson licked the boy’s head.
Auchincloss asked Jones whether the passage in the book was accurate.
“Yes, with reservations,” Jones said.
When the defence objected to several questions, Auchincloss said he was asking for the sake of impeachment.
On cross-examination by Jackson lawyer Thomas Mesereau , Jones testified that his co-writer completes passages of the book and that he then checks them for accuracy.
Jones said that he had not yet reviewed the section Auchincloss read in court and that it was not accurate.
Mesereau also noted that Jones had not been sworn to tell the truth when working on the book.
“When you were dealing with your co-writer and publisher you were not under oath, and of course today you are,” Mesereau said.
Prosecutors are presenting witnesses from Jackson’s past to show he has a pattern of inappropriate behaviour with boys and to help the credibility of his current accuser.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old former cancer patient, plying the boy with alcohol, and holding his family captive in February and March 2003 to get them to help rebut a damaging documentary.
Jackson’s mother issued a statement explaining her reasons for leaving the courtroom during testimony Thursday.
Katherine Jackson, who has been present for every day of her son’s child molestation trial, said the media misinterpreted her absence from the courtroom as a reaction to testimony. She said she left to use the bathroom.
“I am only asking for fair and accurate reporting,” she said. ”Accusing me of leaving due to graphic testimony when I simply went to the rest room is not fair, not accurate.”