Closing arguments in the Michael Jackson child molestation and conspiracy trial — a trial which commenced with opening statements on February 28 — began this morning in Santa Maria with Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen speaking for the prosecution.
Zonen opened, “This case is about the exploitation and sexual abuse of a 13-year-old cancer survivor by an international celebrity. Michael Jackson molested Gavin Arviso and many other boys.”
Jackson would “seduce boys into his confidence, into his bedroom, into his bed.”
“They rode rides, went to the zoo, ate whatever they wanted, which for kids meant candy, ice cream and soda pop,” Zonen said. “There was no discipline, there was only fun … And at night they entered into the world of the forbidden.”
“Michael Jackson inserted himself into the life of (the accuser’s) family, not the other way round,” he said.
Zonen said the defense case was “entirely limited” to attacks on the credibility of the boy’s mother.
Zonen quoted Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr: ‘”I think an opening statement is a contract,'” then reminded jurors that Mesereau had invited them to judge him on the basis of whether he kept the promises when the testimony was presented.
Zonen next listed a series of alleged inconsistencies between Mesereau’s opening statement and the trial testimony, including allegations that the Arviso family — and in particular the mother Janet — had asked celebrities George Lopez, Jay Leno, Mike Tyson, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey for money.
But Lopez criticized the boy’s now-estranged father, not the mother, in his testimony, and Leno said he was not asked for money.
Tyson, Sandler and Carrey never appeared in court. “Did you see any of them come in here?” Zonen said. “There’s no evidence she received anything from the three of them.”
He said Arviso, “to this day, has never asked for one penny from Michael Jackson, has never asked anything of him, has never desired anything from him.”
The prosecutor acknowledged that Janet Arviso had fraudulently underreported income on an application for welfare. “That was a mistake. It was fraud. She shouldn’t have done it. It was a bad mistake on her part, and she may well have to deal with the consequences. That was the only thing she’s done in her life that she clearly shouldn’t have done.”
Zonen’s closing continues, followed by Mesereau’s closing on behalf of Jackson. Zonen will also make a rebuttal argument after the defense finishes limited only to issues raised by the defense’s wrap-up. The jury will get the case tomorrow.