and Ken Lee
March 28, 2005 04:00 PM

In a major setback for the defense, Judge Rodney S. Melville on Monday ruled that he will permit the prosecution to introduce testimony in the Michael Jackson trial about past allegations against the entertainer – including those involving actor Macaulay Culkin, choreographer Wade Robson and two youngsters who reached multimillion-dollar civil settlements with the pop star.

The jurist’s decision followed arguments from District Attorney Tom Sneddon about Jackson’s alleged pattern of “grooming” boys for molestation and vigorous opposition from defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., who asked the judge: “How can you just allow a parade of third-party characters to come in without any victims?”

Added Mesereau: “Macaulay Culkin … has repeatedly said he was never molested.”

Sneddon made the request to introduce evidence concerning seven boys, but the judge would only permit it from five. This will include testimony from a 1990 accuser who received a $2.4 million settlement from Jackson and testimony by that boy’s mother.

In instructions from Melville, the jury can only be told that Jackson reached settlements with the 1990 and 1993 accusers but may not be informed of the amounts, unless revealed by the defense.

CBS trial-watcher Andrew Cohen said of Monday’s decision: “Mesereau has to be a lot more careful about being too confrontational against witnesses now. He can’t just go after all these families, accusing them all of lying. This is a huge blow to the defense. ”

Neither Jackson, his family, nor the jury were present until 11:30 a.m., after the motion was decided. Only about 30 hardcore Jackson fans braved the morning rain outside.

Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

In other news from Monday’s court session, comedian George Lopez and his wife Ann were witnesses for the prosecution, saying that the accuser’s father was actually more money hungry than the mother was. According to the Lopez’s testimony, the man relentlessly pestered the couple about fundraising opportunities and on-the-spot cash handouts.

Not that the comic didn’t have some funny moments. When asked by Mesereau if he knew that the largely Hispanic Los Angeles suburb of El Monte was not in East L.A., Lopez replied: “Any Latino knows that, that’s like Chicano 101.”

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