The Michael Jackson case took a pivotal turn today when Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville — after hearing arguments by District Attorney Tom Sneddon and heated opposition by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. — ruled in favor of the presecution, allowing testimony about alleged sexual offenses and a pattern of “grooming” with attention and expensive gifts against Jackson involving five boys, of whom two are actor Macaulay Culkin and choreographer Wade Robeson, and including two who reached multimillion-dollar settlements with Jackson.
The judge will allow testimony from a 1990 accuser who received a $2.4 million settlement from Jackson, and that boy’s mother, a former Jackson maid. The boy who received a $20+ million settlement from Jackson in 1993 will not testify, but his mother will. The fact that settlements were reached in those two cases will be allowed to be introduced, but not the amounts involved unless the defense chooses to do so. The 1993 accuser claimed repeated molestation and the boy in the 1990 case claimed to be touched twice over his clothes and once under his clothes.
District Attorney Sneddon stated that Jackson was observed “inappropriately touching” four children, including “kissing, hugging and inserting his hand into children’s pants. “It is a propensity and proclivity of the defendant to be involved with children between the ages of 10 and 13,” he said. Sneddon also said testimony would indicate Jackson was seen in bed with four children while the underwear of the children and Jackson was at the side of the bed.
Jackson lead attorney Mesereau said Culkin “has repeatedly said he was never molested,” and also said the defense would put on a “mini-trial” for each allowed allegation. “You can’t stop the defense from putting on a full-blown defense and I mean just that,” he warned darkly. Mesereau also argued, “How can you just allow an array of third-part characters to come in without any alleged victim? It is going to prolong this trial interminably because we have to defend our client’s reputation and life.” But his objections did not hold.
Testimony of past allegations were allowed under a 1995 state law (upheld in 1999 by the California Supreme Court), Section 1108 of the state evidence code, permitting prosecutors to introduce evidence of previous sexual allegations, even if the alleged acts are decades old and no charges had been filed, in child molestation cases. Critics charge that the law allows prosecutors to shore up spotty cases with little physical evidence and shaky testimony from alleged child victims — kind of like this one — convicting on patterns of behavior rather the merits of the individual case. I believe that was their intent.