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Michael Jackson's first accuser may testify against him: report

March 23, 2004

Prosecutor Tom Sneddon Prosecutor Tom Sneddon
LOS ANGELES — A man who accused pop icon Michael Jackson of child abuse 11 years ago may be called to testify at a secret hearing in the latest molestation case being brought against the singer, a report said.

The Santa Barbara News-Press quoted unnamed sources as saying the man, who was 13 at the time and received a multimillion dollar payment from Jackson to settle the case, would be among several witnesses called to testify in the latest child abuse allegations against Jackson.

Prosecutor Tom Sneddon plans to call the witnesses before a secret grand jury to examine charges that Jackson molested a 12-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch one year ago, the paper said at the weekend.

Jurors for the grand jury hearing will be selected next week, the paper said. The hearing will be held in the California town of Santa Barbara where evidence will be presented against the superstar in a private hearing.

Prosecutors and police officials declined to confirm whether a grand jury would be seated to outline the evidence against 45-year-old-Jackson, who has been charged with seven counts of child abuse and two counts of plying the boy with alcohol before molesting him.

Sneddon's office, however, said a grand jury would be seated in Santa Barbara, but declined to confirm which case it would be hearing.

Grand juries are held secretly to decide whether enough evidence exists to press charges against a suspect.

The News-Press, which earlier this month broke reports that a grand jury would be seated in the Jackson case, said Sneddon was trying to establish a pattern of abusive behaviour with boys to bolster his case against the singer.

Jackson was arrested in November and charged a month later, triggering an unprecedented media frenzy amid conflicting claims of what evidence prosecutors have against him.

The paper said that former Neverland employees would also be called to testify before the grand jury.

"If I'm called to testify, I'll testify, but I'd rather not go through all that again," said one unidentified former Jackson worker who was called to testify against the pop star at a 1993 grand jury hearing.

If convicted at the end of what is expected to be a long celebrity trial, Jackson — who has pleaded not guilty to all charges — could face a long stretch behind bars.

Jackson's next court hearing is scheduled for April 2 in the town of Santa Maria and reports say that if a grand jury hands down a new indictment in the case before then, Jackson could be arraigned again on that date. — – Sapa-AFP

Related links stories
Judge wants Michael Jackson tried by the end of the year [19/02/2004]




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