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Mother of Jackson Accuser Not After Money, Jury Told

Times Staff Writer

A Hollywood comedy club owner testified Tuesday that he was never asked for money by the mother of the accuser in Michael Jackson’s molestation trial -- a contrast to the defense’s contention that the woman targeted wealthy celebrities.

Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard, said he met the boy and his family at his summer comedy camp in 1999 and grew close to them when the boy was diagnosed with cancer the next year.

He said he held two fundraisers for the boy at his club and turned the proceeds over to the father. He also once gave the father a check for $800 to cover the family’s rent, he said.

Jackson attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. maintained in his opening statement to jurors last month that the mother used the boy’s illness to solicit cash from celebrities and encouraged her son to lie about Jackson to solicit money from him. Jackson is charged with molesting the son in 2003.

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Masada said his experience with the woman was far different, and that she once declined an offer from a wealthy friend of his to provide her with all the money she needed, even enough to buy a house.

“She said, ‘All I need is a friend. I don’t need money. I just need prayer,’ ” Masada said.

However, Masada said the alleged victim’s father repeatedly asked him for money. He said he often dipped into his wallet and gave the father cash.

Masada brought smiles to the juror’s faces when asked about his involvement with Jackson.

“This is the first time I’ve seen him,” Masada said, turning to look at the singer who has won 13 Grammys. “How are you?”

Jackson smiled and waived at the witness as the courtroom erupted in laughter.

After court recessed for the day, Jackson paused briefly to talk to reporters. He said he appreciated some of Masada’s deadpan comments.

“We can use a little comic relief sometimes,” he said.

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Jackson, 46, is charged with four counts of child molestation, four counts of providing alcohol to a minor, attempted molestation and conspiracy. If convicted of all charges, he could face 20 years in prison.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors are in their fifth week of testimony in the case. Dist. Atty. Tom Sneddon said he has about two more weeks of testimony related to the current case before he will begin presenting evidence about alleged victims from the past, in an attempt to show the 2003 molestation was part of a pattern of pedophilia.


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