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Jury Views Jackson Deposition in Lawsuit

Times Staff Writer

A Santa Monica jury on Thursday watched a videotaped deposition of Michael Jackson insisting that he knew little about his own business affairs and had no idea that a close associate now suing him for unpaid fees had been a pornographer.

“I was shown a videotape by the lawyer, and I was shocked,” Jackson said of the revelation that F. Marc Schaffel had made gay adult films. “He was in that whole circle, and I didn’t know.”

Schaffel has sued the star, alleging that Jackson owes him for loans and fees to work on a charity record and two Fox TV documentaries made to counter a documentary that spawned child molestation allegations in 2003.

Earlier Thursday, Schaffel took the witness stand and admitted that he failed to get receipts for cash payments he made on Jackson’s behalf, including $300,000 he has said he delivered to a “Mr. X” in South America.

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Outside court, Schaffel’s lawyer, Howard King, said he has cut the amount his client is seeking from Jackson to $1.6 million, from $3.8 million, because of various problems, including the lack of receipts.

“We so far have managed to show that he has no knowledge about anything,” King said during a break in Jackson’s deposition.

“Michael certainly appears forgetful at times,” Jackson’s attorney, L. Londell McMillan, said after Thursday’s hearing, “but he did not seem dishonorable, and that’s how the plaintiff appeared.”

On the videotape, the pop star said he couldn’t recall signing multimillion-dollar promissory notes or borrowing large sums of cash from financial advisors he only vaguely remembered knowing.

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Jurors occasionally chuckled at some of Jackson’s responses. At other points, they stared intently at the video, furrowed their brows and slowly shook their heads.

Jackson’s attorneys said it’s not unreasonable for an artist to forget or be ignorant of the business aspects of his craft because his mind is on song sheets, not spreadsheets.

On the stand, Schaffel fielded a barrage of questions from defense attorneys, trying to explain ledgers he had created to document his financial claims. Schaffel said Jackson on one occasion asked for a six-figure cash loan, which Schaffel delivered in Arby’s sandwich bags. Jackson, he said, called the cash “French fries,” and the especially large loans “super-sized.”

Schaffel acknowledged that he had no receipts.

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“I learned a very hard lesson,” said Schaffel, who wore a black suit and deep blue tie.

The rest of the video is scheduled to be shown today. The case is expected to finish next week.


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