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Writer Told to Pay Michael Jackson $2.7 Million

<i> From a Times Staff Writer</i>

A man who could not prove his claim that he had seen a 27-minute videotape of Michael Jackson having sex with a minor was ordered Thursday by a Superior Court jury to pay the singer $2.7 million.

The pop star has vehemently denied the accusation, said his attorney, Zia Modabber.

“I talked to the jurors [after the verdict], and they said they wanted to send a message to the tabloids to stop writing malicious stories about celebrities,” Modabber said.

Before the trial, Victor Gutierrez, who has written a self-published biography of Jackson, refused to produce evidence that he had seen the videotape. Gutierrez invoked California’s Shield Law, which allows reporters to protect their sources.

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Because Gutierrez refused to divulge his confidential source, Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ordered that a jury decide how much Jackson was owed. The trial began March 30.

Gutierrez was simply trying to protect a source’s confidentiality, said his attorney, Robert Goldman.

But, the lawyer said, Gutierrez “still claims he saw a videotape with Michael Jackson having sex with a boy.”

Modabber said his client is gratified that the trial’s outcome was so decisive.

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“That jury was mad,” he said. “It was a 9-3 decision, and the three holdouts wanted to give Mr. Jackson more money.”

Two years ago, Gutierrez wrote a biography of Jackson titled “Michael Jackson Was My Lover,” which details an alleged affair between the entertainer and a boy.

Goldman said that Gutierrez has asked Jackson to challenge the “truth of the book” and that the singer has refused.

Shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin, Gutierrez filed for bankruptcy.

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But Modabber said he plans to ask the Bankruptcy Court “not to discharge this debt.”

Jackson filed the suit against Gutierrez after the writer told a reporter for the television show “Hard Copy” that he had seen a videotape of the star having sex with a boy.

The singer also sued former “Hard Copy” reporter Diane Dimond, ABC and Paramount, which produces the show.

But Dunn dismissed them as defendants because, he said, there was no evidence that they acted with malice.

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Jackson is appealing that decision.

In 1994, the entertainer settled a sexual molestation lawsuit filed by a Southern California boy whom Jackson had befriended several years earlier.


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