Jackson Doesn’t Want Accuser Called ‘Victim’ – Reuters

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[b]Jackson Doesn’t Want Accuser Called ‘Victim'[/b] By Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Lawyers for Michael Jackson have asked a judge in his child molestation case to bar prosecutors from referring to his young accuser or the boy’s family as “victims” in front of a jury, saying that it violates the pop star’s right to a fair trial. Jackson’s attorneys also want Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon and his deputies prevented from telling jurors that they represent “the people,” for the same reason when trial begins on Jan. 31. “The issue for the jury to decide is whether the complaining witnesses are ‘victims’ (the District Attorney’s theory) or whether the complaining witnesses are lying and/or mistaken (the defense theory),” Jackson’s lawyers wrote in a nine-page motion made public on Wednesday. “The prosecution, court personnel and the state’s witnesses should not be allowed to characterize the complaining witnesses as ‘victims’ before the jury has had a chance to decide the ultimate question of whether they are victims.” Lawyers for Kobe Bryant won a similar motion in his rape case last summer before charges against the Los Angeles Lakers star were dropped. Meanwhile, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville has granted the 46-year-old entertainer permission to make a televised statement to Fox News about the case in response to leaks of potentially damaging grand jury testimony given by his teen-age accuser. However, a Fox News spokeswoman said executives for the News Corp.-owned cable TV network had not yet reviewed Jackson’s prepared statement and an accompanying interview he gave to reporter Geraldo Rivera and that no decision had been made as to when and how the material would be aired. A source said the interview dealt with Jackson’s “personal life and family relationships” and not the criminal case. … All grand jury testimony leading to Jackson’s indictment was sealed by Melville, who has imposed nearly unprecedented secrecy in the case in what he said was a necessary move to protect the singer’s right to a fair trial. A court official and Jackson’s lead defense lawyer, Tom Mesereau, declined comment. Jackson has been indicted on 10 counts of child molestation and conspiracy stemming from accusations leveled against him by a now 15-year-old cancer survivor, who appeared with Jackson in a 2003 TV documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir. Bashir filed a motion on Wednesday asking the judge to bar prosecutors from calling him as a witness in the trial. He cited California’s “shield law” protecting journalists from being compelled to testify about their news sources. Source: Reuters

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