The secret life of [Jackson’s] accuser

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[b]The secret life of Jacko’s accuser[/b] [i]From gravely ill and living in poverty to attending boot camp and going on shopping sprees[/i] Originally published on April 19, 2004 By MICHELLE CARUSO AND ALEC BYRNE DAILY NEWS WRITERS LOS ANGELES – The young cancer patient who has accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse is now a robust teenager able to withstand the rigors of a military camp and scale 8-foot walls, the Daily News has learned. He also has moved into a comfy condo on the city’s upscale west side, and his mom is driving a new car. It is a remarkably different picture from what the family’s friends have described. In the swirl of publicity after Jackson was arrested for allegedly molesting the boy in November, family friends said the boy was desperately ill – in dire need of a kidney transplant – and so poor that he and his siblings didn’t even have beds. Comedy club owner Jamie Masada, who introduced the accuser to Jackson, broke hearts across the nation when he described the 14-year-old boy’s failing health and grim living conditions in a series of interviews late last year. “He has only one kidney and it’s failing him, and part of his face is swollen up. … It just breaks your heart,” Masada told The News in late November, adding that he donated bunk beds so the boy and his younger brother wouldn’t have to sleep on the floor. “They’re poor people, simple people,” Masada said. In late December, he told The Associated Press, “The kid is not doing very good.” Weeks after Masada’s heartrending media blitz, an in-depth investigation found the boy in good shape, despite his cancer bout, and strong enough to run, jump, scale fences and even hoist a rifle. Masada, silenced by a court gag order, declined to comment. The accuser and his mother are among the witnesses who reportedly have testified before a Santa Barbara County grand jury probing abuse allegations against the pop star. The 19-member panel will decide if Jackson should be tried on the charges, which could send him to prison for 21 years. Exclusive photos obtained by The News, which were shot during January and February, show the boy practicing grueling rifle drills with the Sea Cadet Corps, a boot-camp-style youth group, hanging out with friends and enjoying family outings. The News investigation also raises questions about reports of the family’s deprivation and poverty. The accuser’s mother was repeatedly seen driving her new red 2004 Volkswagen Jetta – with a $21,000 sticker price, a big-ticket purchase for someone struggling to make ends meet. The family moved in with the mother’s new boyfriend, Army Reserve Maj. Jay Jackson (no relation to Michael) sometime last year. By January they had relocated to a pleasant two-bedroom condo near L.A.’s posh Brentwood neighborhood – a far cry from their former rundown apartment on the city’s dicey east side. The no-nonsense Maj. Jackson, 42, a personnel administrator for an L.A.-based Army unit, befriended the accuser’s family about two years ago. He later found romance with the mother and took the family into his home last year. The investigation revealed even more surprises. On Jan. 21, the family’s former attorney William Dickerman told The Associated Press the family was “in hiding” from the media, adding, “They’re very private people.” However, 10 days later, the accuser’s mother allowed the boy and his 13-year-old brother to go on an unsupervised dining and shopping spree with a local TV reporter. Photos show Fox 11-KTTV’s reporter Barbara Schroeder and the boys cheerfully chatting on the Jan. 31 excursion. They lunched at a cafĂ©, shopped at an electronic games store, where the accuser emerged with a bag of goodies, and spent 40 minutes at a video arcade. When Schroeder brought the kids back 21/2 hours later, the mom came outside to chat. Alarmed by news reports that the boy was gravely ill, the boy’s father, who is barred from seeing his kids because of convictions for domestic violence, rushed to court seeking emergency visitation and joint custody. In court papers dated Jan. 27, two key law enforcement officials handling the Jackson sex-abuse case confirmed that the star witness against Michael Jackson is pretty healthy. Santa Barbara County Senior Deputy District Attorney Ronald Zonen wrote: “[The boy] is in excellent health, not withstanding his prior battle with cancer. I spent the day with him Monday the 19th of January. He was in good spirits and presented himself as an entirely healthy 14-year-old boy. He is pursuing his education and is involved in sports and extracurricular activities.” Santa Barbara County Sheriff James Anderson agreed. “My investigators have met with [the boy] on two occasions within the last week and found him to appear in excellent health, despite his battle with cancer.” Originally published on April 19, 2004 Source:

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