Judge Rodney Melville lifts the gag order so the star can reply to damning transcripts

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 20, 2005 08:00 AM

Michael Jackson has been given a break by Judge Rodney Melville, who has temporarily lifted the all-encompassing gag order in the child-molestation case so the singer can respond to 1,900 pages of grand jury transcripts leaked to ABC News.

Jackson, 46, has reportedly already taped an interview with Geraldo Rivera of FOX News. A FOX rep confirmed the taping to the Associated Press, though no airdate for Jackson’s appearance has been announced.

According to ABC’s findings, first reported on Good Morning America, Jackson’s accuser, a cancer survivor who is now 15, told a grand jury that the pop star closed his eyes tightly while molesting him and provided other graphic details of alleged molestation.

According to ABC’s report, the accuser, then 14, told the grand jury that Jackson “told me that he wanted to teach me (to masturbate) and so we were laying in the bed, and then he started rubbing me.”

Strongly objecting to the leaking of sealed testimony, defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said in a court-approved statement last week: “The witnesses who testified before the grand jury were never subjected to cross-examination or impeachment by the defense. By law, no judge or defense lawyer was allowed to be present in the grand jury room. Furthermore, the defense had no opportunity to call its own witnesses to refute or criticize this one-sided proceeding.”

Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin Jan. 31. Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges that include felony conspiracy with 28 overt acts involving child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.