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Heal the World

Jacko accuser reportedly testifies before grand jury. While the singer goes to Capitol Hill to address the African AIDS crisis, the boy testifies in top-secret hearing

Michael Jackson's accuser reportedly got his day in court on Tuesday. A source close to the proceedings told the Associated Press that the boy testified before the especially secretive grand jury that has convened in Santa Barbara to determine whether Jackson should be tried on child molestation charges. Also testifying, AP reports, was Jamie Masada, the Hollywood comedy club owner who has claimed in the past that he introduced the cancer-stricken boy to Jackson. It was the second day of grand jury testimony, following Monday's testimony by the boy's first laywer, Larry Feldman (who also represented Jackson's 1993 accuser) and psychologist Stan Katz (to whom Feldman referred the current accuser after hearing his allegations).

While grand jury proceedings are traditionally closed to the public, this grand jury has been unusually secretive, convening not at the Santa Barbara courthouse but at a sheriff's training facility behind a barricaded road on the outskirts of town, with jurors and witnesses shuttled there in vans with blacked-out windows, the Los Angeles Times reports. Media outlets have petitioned the court to ease the tight secrecy.

Jackson himself spent Tuesday in Washington, D.C., where he's due to receive an award later this week from the African Ambassadors' Spouses Association for his charitable efforts directed at fighting AIDS in Africa. He had hoped to meet with the 38 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss the African AIDS crisis with them, AP reports, but most turned him down, saying they were too busy working on issues affecting African-Americans. About 12 representatives did meet with him, while others told AP, on condition of anonymity, that there was no political benefit to being associated with the accused child molester. Jackson has called the charges against him a ''big lie.'' Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), one of the dozen who did meet with the singer, called him ''one of the leading celebrities in the world who has actually used his celebrity status to help people.''

Originally posted Mar 31, 2004
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