In a nearly three-hour opening statement Monday, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon promised to explore “the private world of Michael Jackson,” telling the jury that the star’s relationship with his young accuser was not about “cookies and milk” as Jackson had described on the now infamous Martin Bashir British TV documentary.
Instead, said Sneddon, it was about “wine, vodka and bourbon” and the trial will expose, once and for all, a world of “child molestation.”
Sneddon took the jury step-by-step through several weeks in February and March of 2003 when the just-aired Bashir documentary “rocked Michael Jackson’s world … not in a musical sense, but in a real life sense.” Sneddon, painting a dark picture of Jackson’s Neverland Ranch (with its secret rooms and bedroom alarms), described how this led to the “extortion, abduction and imprisonment of children.”
According to the DA, on their very first meeting Jackson took the accuser, then 10, and his younger brother on a tour of Internet sex sites. Showing them one photo of a bare breasted woman, Jackson is said to have giggled and asked, “Got milk?” Later, he reportedly said to his own son (who had fallen asleep), “Prince, you’re missing a lot of p—y.”
Several times during Sneddon’s statements, Jackson, 46, whispered to his attorney Thomas Mesereau. Then, in the defense attorney’s opening remarks, Mesereau countered Sneddon’s statement with a strong and vehement attack on the accuser and his family, particularly his mother – painting her as a money-hungry scam artist always “looking for a mark.”
Calling the prosecution’s accusations “fictitious, bogus and fake,” Mesereau, citing a call to police from Jay Leno, said the mother attempted on numerous occasions to fleece money from such celebrities as Leno, Jim Carrey, George Lopez, Chris Tucker, Mike Tyson and others through the exploitation of her sick son, who was suffering with cancer.
Mesereau also painted his client as a benevolent “genius” whose only motivation in the relationship was to help a dying young boy and his family. Jackson, said Mesereau, “didn’t smell the ruse.”
In the indictment, 28 acts were allegedly committed in the conspiracy to keep the molestation under wraps, prosecutors charge. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all counts.