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The Jackson Fifth

Jackson accuser's mom pleads the Fifth. She refuses to answer questions about alleged welfare fraud

Michael Jackson | FACING THE MUSIC Jackson listened to his accuser's mother testify
Image credit: Michael Jackson: Eric Neitzel-Pool/Getty
FACING THE MUSIC Jackson listened to his accuser's mother testify

The mother of Michael Jackson's accuser testified on Wednesday about her son's allegations regarding the singer, but she would not discuss her own alleged misdeeds. Judge Rodney Melville allowed her to plead the Fifth Amendment and avoid making possibly self-incriminating statements regarding allegations of welfare fraud. Melville's ruling banning that topic came despite the objections of Jackson's defense team, which has tried to paint her as a liar and grifter with a history of targeting wealthy institutions and celebrities.

The mother said she became ''uneasy'' early on about her cancer-stricken son's friendship with Jackson, but she allowed her kids to return to Neverland in 2002 at the invitation of Chris Tucker, one of the famous comedians the family had befriended, a man she said she trusted.

According to the Associated Press, the mother became tearful when she described the one-room apartment she and her sons lived in until 2003. Jackson's attorneys contend that she and the family actually spent most of their time at the boy's grandmother's home but used the apartment to gain the sympathy of celebrities and others. One of those others, the defense alleges, was her then-boyfriend, who married her in 2004, a year after the alleged molestation of his stepson took place. On Tuesday and early Wednesday, the stepfather had testifed, saying that he was unaware of possible welfare violations when he was supporting her financially in 2003. ''I didn't know any rules with regard to welfare,'' he told the defense. ''She was my girlfriend, they were her children. If I gave her any money, it was out of the goodness of my heart.''

During his testimony, the stepfather denied seeking payment for the family's appearance in a video that would rebut the suggestions of scandal in the 2003 Martin Bashir documentary, but he said a Jackson aide had offered the family a house and college tuition in an effort to secure their participation. He denied telling police at one point that he did not believe the mother was in danger as she left Neverland. He said that the accuser, upon his final return from Neverland, showed a change in behavior, acting ''mean'' and ''rude'' and using curse words. ''It appeared to me he'd been brainwashed by someone,'' the stepfather said on the stand, eliciting an objection from the defense that the judge sustained, asking jurors to disregard the remark.

The defense played for the man a recording made after the Bashir documentary aired, a tape of a conversation between the family and a private investigator working for Jackson, in which the family praised Jackson for his support, with the mother saying the pop star was ''like a father ... unselfish, kind, exhibiting unconditional love.'' That prompted the stepfather to roll his eyes, AP reports.

Originally posted Apr 13, 2005
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