Social worker says family praised Jackson

A social worker told Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial today that the accuser and his family praised the singer and denied any sexual abuse during the time they claim they were held captive at his ranch.

A social worker told Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial today that the accuser and his family praised the singer and denied any sexual abuse during the time they claim they were held captive at his ranch.

Irene Peters, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, said she met them privately on February 20, 2003, after the airing of the ‘Living with Michael Jackson’ documentary.

“I asked [the accuser] if he had ever been sexually abused by Michael Jackson and he became upset,” Peters told the court in Santa Maria, California.

“He said, ‘Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me. He never touched me’.”

She said the accuser told her that the star “was very kind to him and treated him like a father”.

Jackson is accused of molesting the then-13-year-old boy between February 20 and March 12, 2003, plying him with wine and also of conspiring to hold the family captive.

The accuser, a cancer survivor, appeared with the singer in the controversial documentary. In the programme, Jackson told journalist Martin Bashir that he let children sleep in his bed, but that it was non-sexual.

Peters said she separately interviewed the accuser as well as his mother, brother and older sister. Peters claimed that they all praised Jackson.

She said the boy’s mother even gave the pop star credit for her son’s victory over cancer.

Rather than wanting to flee Jackson’s Neverland ranch, the accuser’s mother initially asked if the social worker could do her interview at the pop star’s estate, Peters said.

Peters said, however, that she wanted to see where they were living and so she was invited to the home of the mother’s boyfriend, who is now her husband.

“She denied all allegations of general neglect,” Peters said.

“I asked her about the relationship with Michael Jackson. She went on to say he was like a father to her children and she felt he was responsible for helping [her son] to survive his cancer, for his cancer to go into remission.

“I asked her if the kids ever slept in Michael Jackson’s room and she said no, that never happened.”

Under questioning by defence lawyer Thomas Mesereau, Peters said the family members never mentioned being held against their will.

The interview took place the morning after the family made the rebuttal video, which they later claimed they were forced to do by Jackson’s associates.

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