[b]Did Jackson’s Maid Meet Cops With a Reporter?[/b] Monday, March 28, 2005 By Roger Friedman Did Jackson’s Maid Meet Cops With an Enquirer Reporter? The judge could rule today that Michael Jackson’s rumored but never-proven “prior acts” with children can be presented in court as evidence. But that may not help the prosecution. Jackson’s former maid, who said she witnessed Jackson engaged in inappropriate activity with her son and other children, has a fuzzy and questionable history to her allegations. On Friday, I told you that dozens of hours of fascinating tape-recorded phone calls made by a National Enquirer reporter have surfaced. The reporter, Jim Mitteager, who is now deceased, left them to a private investigator named Paul Barresi. Now Barresi, who combed through them and made transcripts, is uncovering material from a decade ago that resonates today. Barresi discovered that the Neverland maid Blanca Francia, who claimed Jackson molested her son, used a National Enquirer reporter as her translator when she was interviewed by the police in 1994. She sold her story to the tabloid as well as to the now defunct TV show “Hard Copy,” and received $2 million from Jackson and $20,000 from the show. Today in court, Judge Rodney Melville will hear both sides in the Jackson case argue the pros and cons of introducing evidence of Jackson’s so-called “prior acts.” This evidence would be in the form of witnesses who say they have information about Jackson’s inappropriate relationships with children. The accuser who received $20 million from Jackson in a 1993 settlement is not likely to appear. The former accuser has never outed himself publicly and there would be no benefit for him to appear. But the prosecution is counting on Francia and her son. After the story of the first boy broke in 1993, Francia came forward with the accusation that she had seen Jackson in a sleeping bag with her son and showering with other boys in 1990. Her saga was featured in Mary A. Fischer’s watershed 1994 article in GQ, “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” Before she settled, the maid was called to testify in a civil suit brought by the family of the 1993 accuser. She admitted to embellishing her story to “Hard Copy” and to being remunerated for it as well. On the tapes, Barresi discovered that Enquirer reporter Lydia Encinas was with the maid when police officers came to see her. In a January 1994 conversation, Enquirer editor David Perel asked Mitteager if anything new was breaking on Encinas’ involvement in the interrogation. “No. Just hope the cops don’t freak out when they see the story. They sort of know what’s coming,” Perel replied. What was coming was an Enquirer story about Francia that was penned by Encinas. It’s unclear whether the cops knew that Encinas was a tabloid reporter or that she had a financial interest in the maid’s veracity. The Enquirer was paying big bucks for any information about Jackson at the time. At one point on the tapes, an editor at the Globe is heard saying to Mitteager: “Jim, when you go in on these deals, talk big money and don’t back off. I mean, talk 50 grand. We need [Jackson’s former manager] Frank DiLeo telling all, at $100,000, if we can get him. We need all of Jackson’s celebrity pals. Anything they said. Every kid that has ever been with Jackson. We want to know who he is … where he’s coming from … any pictures available. We want to put big offers to any member of the family. We need to go with the big money. The big offers. It’s the biggest story since [Elvis] Presley’s death.” On March 23, 1994, Perel told Mitteager: “The reason why Lydia Encinas is involved is because she speaks Spanish and she’s got a pretty good relationship going with Blanca … The cops took Lydia yesterday to Blanca’s house. [Blanca has] only got a sixth-grade education, so there is a problem there. Blanca is very distrustful … The cops are looking for copies of agreements between Jackson and parents.” (See Friday’s column for our story about a faked agreement touted by the tabloids.) Russ Birchim, one of the police officers who interviewed the maid, denied that Encinas was present when at the questioning. “Lydia Encinas was not the translator. But I did meet with her in Los Angeles,” he said. Birchim, who is on the prosecution’s witness list, did not explain why he had met with a National Enquirer reporter in the first place. All efforts to contact Encinas have failed. Barresi is sitting on a goldmine of information not only about Jackson, but other celebrities as well. But he remains a staunch supporter of Mitteager. He’s aware of the crucial role that Mitteager’s tapes could play in rehashing scandals of a decade ago. In fact, Mitteager’s tapes provide an incredible history that shows how the tabloids worked to gin up interest in sensational stories 10 years ago when “Hard Copy” and the original “A Current Affair” were in vogue. By opening the door to this story, District Attorney Tom Sneddon may bite off more than he can chew. The maid, her payment from “Hard Copy” and the resulting lawsuits are less about Jackson than about the greed and ambition that surrounds him. In unraveling the mysteries of Jackson’s “prior acts,” Sneddon could leave room for defense attorney Thomas Mesereau to openly investigate the connections between all these people. And that would make a much more interesting story than almost anything we’ve heard so far. Source: [url=http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151665,00.html] http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,151665,00.html[/url]

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