Michael Jackson’s lawyer has launched a stinging attack on the woman at the centre of the star’s child abuse trial, suggesting she is a “good actress” out to make some easy money.
Tom Mesereau engaged in a fast and furious exchange with Janet Arvizo, the mother of the singer’s young accuser, prompting Judge Rodney Melville to admonish them both and threaten to close the court.
Mrs Arvizo stuck staunchly to her guns, standing up to the lawyer and at one point declaring that Jackson’s Neverland ranch was “all about booze, pornography and sex with boys.”
She insisted that the video filmed to offset a potential backlash from Martin Bashir’s documentary was entirely scripted.
She said she was admonished by Jackson aides after being instructed to defend the star because she was a “bad actress.”
“I think you’re a good actress,” Mr Mesereau shot back.
He played the 30-minute video for a fourth time, stopping and starting it to question the apparent spontaneity of the family’s comments as they took breaks from filming and joked together.
But Mrs Arvizo insisted that every word was rehearsed, claiming she had met one of Jackson’s aides ten times to discuss what she would say.
“I was acting,” she said. “I mean, you are not going to call Halle Berry and say, ’Are you Catwoman?”’
Mr Mesereau suggested she was embellishing her story. For her part, she later turned to jurors declaring that the lawyer’s facts were “inaccurate”.
When he played a recording of a conversation between her and one of Jackson’s associates, she snapped: “This tape has been manipulated.” Mrs Arvizo did admit that she had once lied under oath in a lawsuit she filed against a US department store.
She won more than €115,000 in 2001 after alleging she was assaulted and her family beaten by guards when her son Gavin was caught shoplifting.
She conceded that she was lying when she denied being abused by her husband, but said it was because she was embarrassed and explained that she had subsequently tried to get the record corrected.
Mr Mesereau sought to portray the woman as the architect of an elaborate plot to extort money from Jackson but Mrs Arvizo stressed for the second day in a row, that she had no intention of suing the star.
“I want justice here,” she said.
Earlier, the court was played surveillance tapes found in the office of Jackson’s private investigator.
The footage of Gavin Arvizo and his family was proof they were closely monitored as they were held captive at Neverland, the prosecution claimed.
Jackson, 46, denies molesting 13-year-old Gavin, plying him with alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family captive. The trial continues.