Jackson lawyers prepare to attack accuser’s mom – Fritz Coleman

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[b]Jackson lawyers prepare to attack accuser’s mom[/b] 12/2/04 By DAWN HOBBS Popular L.A. weatherman says he may be called to testify NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER Michael Jackson’s lawyers are trying to stockpile ammunition to fire at the credibility of the young accuser’s mother in their client’s upcoming trial on child molestation and conspiracy charges. The attack is expected to include questioning whether the mother appropriately used money that celebrities — including comedians Chris Tucker, George Lopez and Fritz Coleman — raised at the Laugh Factory in the fall of 2000 for her son’s cancer treatments. Mr. Coleman, a well-known Los Angeles TV weatherman, told the News-Press that a defense investigator recently made an early-morning visit to his Southern California home and advised him to be prepared to testify at Mr. Jackson’s trial. This week, a judge approved a defense request to subpoena the family’s psychological, medical and financial documents, including records for an American Express card. “That American Express card is also the means by which the funds collected by Fritz Coleman and others are expended,” according to the defense document. However, Laugh Factory owner Jaimie Masada said, “Anything we raised we gave directly to the hospital, except for a couple of checks I wrote myself, which was for her apartment.” A source close to the accuser’s family criticized the defense strategy, referring to it as a smear campaign launched in a desperate attempt to turn public attention away from Mr. Jackson and onto the boy’s family. The mother told the family friend Wednesday that she has never owned an American Express card and denies misusing any funds raised for her child’s medical expenses. It will be the job of Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville to determine what evidence will be allowed at trial, scheduled to begin with jury selection Jan. 31. The defense lawyers will likely argue that their material is relevant to the mother’s character and shows that she orchestrated an attempted shakedown of their client. Prosecutors will likely counter that those allegations have nothing to do with whether Mr. Jackson gave the boy alcohol and then molested him. Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to all charges. It is expected that both sides may try to show that a pattern of past behavior casts doubt on the motives and credibility of the key players. The defense is targeting the accuser’s mother while the prosecution focuses on Mr. Jackson. Authorities have contacted the alleged victim and witnesses from a 1993 child molestation investigation against Mr. Jackson that crumbled when the boy’s family accepted a multimillion-dollar settlement. Prosecutors may want these individuals to testify to try to show an alleged pattern to Mr. Jackson’s behavior with boys. Similarly, defense lawyers want to show the mother’s alleged pattern of making up claims for financial gain. They’ll likely use as an example the civil suit she filed against J.C. Penney Co. that claims a security guard beat and then molested her. In confidential psychological reports obtained by the News-Press and NBC, a psychiatrist hired by J.C. Penney states it appeared the children were rehearsed and that medical and police reports did not support the allegations. J.C. Penney settled the $3 million lawsuit by dropping shoplifting charges against the boy and paying the family $137,000. The family friend insists the defense is on a fishing expedition to discredit the boy’s mother. The boy and his brother are living a relatively normal life, doing well in school, playing football and moving forward with their lives — all a credit to her character, the source said. Instead, the source said, what shows up in the media are scandalous reports fed to reporters by the defense: “Why put the family through this? It’s all nonsense.” In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Coleman said he met the family in 2000 through the Laugh Factory summer camp, which Mr. Masada offers to underprivileged children. “They really lived a hand-to-mouth existence in a one-room flat in a barrio in East Los Angeles,” said Mr. Coleman, a guest teacher at the camp. He noticed the boy, his brother and sister were all “vivacious performers.” “(The boy) would talk freely,” Mr. Coleman said. “He had sparkle. He had a real bright essence about himself on the stage. With a little guidance, he could probably be a great performer.” Mr. Coleman met the mother when she picked up the children at camp. “She seemed like a good Christian woman with a Bible in hand and blessing people.” Mr. Coleman and camp colleagues later decided to provide Christmas gifts to one of their summer camp families. [b]”We thought (this boy’s) family would be a good one,” he said. “They had to reach certain poverty requirements to get into the program, and the dad was unemployed. So we went to Best Buy and bought them hundreds of dollars of video games and other toys. They were ecstatic — so overwhelmed and thankful.”[/b] In October 2000, the boy’s Laugh Factory friends learned he was diagnosed with cancer and held three fund-raisers to help with medical costs. Mr. Masada declined to say how much money was raised. Mr. Coleman didn’t know. “None of us were in control of where the money ended up,” he said. Mr. Masada would offer no information except to emphasize that the money was given directly to the hospital. A spokeswoman for Kaiser-Permanente said she could not comment because of privacy rules. Mr. Coleman and other Laugh Factory performers visited the boy in the hospital. In fact, the boy met Mr. Jackson through his Laugh Factory connections. Mr. Jackson held a blood drive for him at his Neverland Valley Ranch. And Mr. Coleman announced the fund-raisers at the club during his TV weather forecasts. [b]”The family welcomed me with open arms,” Mr. Coleman said. “I know their motives are being questioned here, but I don’t really know too much about the parents. I got on board to help with what I thought was a worthy cause. “It’s entirely possible the money was used for something else. If that’s the case, I’d be very mad — especially after my station allowed me to promote it. It’s a very sad and odd case. It’s all very bad. Either way, I’m sad for the children.” Mr. Coleman mentioned the mother did try to take advantage of him by dropping his name during the dispute with J.C. Penney employees. “She said, ‘If you’re not careful, I’m going to get my friend Fritz Coleman to come down with his camera crew,’ ” Mr. Coleman said. His name also appears in a Los Angeles police report from October 2001. The mother, who called authorities to report her husband had abused her, told officers that: “Kobe Bryant, Fritz Coleman, Michael Jackson and other celebrities are helping her,” the document states.[/b] It is unclear exactly what the mother meant. But the defense will likely point to this as evidence that she allegedly gets close to celebrities and then tries to use them. Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/120204jackson.htm

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