On the stand in the Michael Jackson trial yesterday, Jay Leno — the penultimate defense witness, preceding actor Chris Tucker — contradicted previous defense assertions that Jackson’s accuser and his family had asked him for money when the boy was suffering from cancer and receiving chemotherapy treatment in 2000.
“I was not asked for any money nor did I send any,” Mr. Leno said. “No one asked me for money.”
Jackson’s lawyers, led by Thomas Mesereau Jr., have sought to portray the mother of Jackson’s accuser as an unstable but calculating grifter who plied celebrities for money out of sympathy for her son’s condition, and who likely coached her son to lie about the molestation charges against Jackson.
They have certainly succeeded in portraying the woman in an unfavorable light: The mother’s former sister-in-law testified that when she held blood drives for the boy, the mother told her “that she didn’t need my [expletive] blood, [but] that she needed money.”
Leno did confirm that the boy called and left messages for him several times and praised him effusively enough to make Leno “suspicious” — Leno said in court “I’m a comedian in his mid-50’s – I’m not Batman” — but also contradicted defense statments that Leno called the police with his suspicions. Leno said the police in fact contacted him. When leaving the stand Leno leaned into the microphone and said, “We have Renee Zellweger on the show tonight.”
Following Leno, Tucker testified that he met Jackson’s accuser, Gavin Arviso, at a benefit for the boy in 2000. He said the boy’s father had introduced himself at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood and asked him to take part.
Tucker said that a few days after the benefit the boy told him it hadn’t made any money, so he wired “probably $1,500 or more” to a foundation for the family. Mesereau asked Tucker if he believed the money was for medical expenses. “I was hoping it was for that,” he said. Tucker said he also took the boy’s family to an amusement park and on shopping trips to a mall. The actor will continue to testify today.
On Tuesday night’s Tonight Show, Leno resumed his customary jibes at Jackson and showed the audience mock footage of his day in court, including a scene in which young male witnesses were sipping from martini glasses. Another scene showed Leno high-fiving jurors as he walked into the courtroom.
“OK, you know the worst part about testifying, I had to follow the chimp. The witness chair was a mess,” he said. Leno also pulled a gavel from his pocket and said he couldn’t resist picking up “a souvenir.”
“No, actually, there was one kinda embarrassing moment. When I took the stand they asked me to point out the defendant and I pointed out LaToya,” Leno said.
“Well, after, what, 12 weeks of trial, Michael Jackson’s attorneys … have finally admitted that Michael slept with children but it was about love, not sex. It just goes to prove that line works for all guys.”
Mesereau indicated that Jackson will not testify on his own behalf, saying of Tucker, “This is the last witness.”