[b]Jackson’s ex-wife testifies in molestation trial[/b] By Linda Deutsch ASSOCIATED PRESS 3:31 p.m. April 27, 2005 SANTA MARIA – With tears in her eyes, Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe described him from the witness stand at his child molestation trial as “my friend” and said that she was never rehearsed to say positive things about him on a video interview made to rebut a damaging TV documentary. “I didn’t want anyone to be able to come back to me and say my interview was rehearsed,” Rowe said. “As Mr. Jackson knows, no one can tell me what to say.” Advertisement Rowe, who is in a family court dispute over visitation with their children, Prince Michael and Paris, glanced at Jackson as she spoke. The pop star, dressed in a maroon suit, showed no obvious reaction to her testimony. Prosecutors called Rowe to support their conspiracy case against Jackson, who is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003. The case alleges Jackson conspired to hold the accuser’s family captive to get them to rebut the TV documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” by British journalist Martin Bashir. The accuser’s mother has claimed that a rebuttal video she made, praising Jackson as a father figure, was scripted. Rowe reiterated that she had been offered a list of questions by her interviewers but she declined to look at them before she talked. “It was a cold interview and I wanted to keep it that way,” she said. [b]Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen asked her what she expected after she gave the interview. Teary, she said, “To be reunited with the children and be reacquainted with their dad.” Asked why she wanted to see Jackson again, she said, “He’s my friend.” Rowe appeared nervous at first as she told jurors “we’ve been friends and we were married.”[/b] “Are you the mother of his two elder children?” asked Zonen. “Yes,” she said, naming them. Asked about her domestic arrangements, she said, “We never shared a home … we never shared an apartment.” Rowe and Jackson married in November 1996. Prince Michael was born in February 1997, followed by Paris in April 1998. The couple filed for divorce in October 1999. Jackson has a third child, Prince Michael II, whose mother has remained anonymous. Rowe said she knew Jackson for perhaps 20 years before they married and once they divorced she was allowed visitation with the children for eight hours every 45 days. She said it was a tough schedule to keep because Jackson travels so much with the children and she finally relinquished all parental rights. “The visitations were not comfortable,” she said, explaining that they would meet at a hotel and “it was a very sterile environment.” She said that she has not seen the children in 2½ to three years. In 2003, she said, she received a call through her former employer, a doctor who brought Jackson and her together. She said he told her that someone associated with Jackson wanted to talk to her and arranged a phone call for her with Marc Schaffel, who is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. [b]Jackson got on the phone briefly during that conversation, she said. “He told me there was a video coming out and it was full of lies and would I help. I said, as always, yes. I asked him if he was OK. I was very upset,” she testified. Zonen asked: “What did he ask you to do?” “He asked if I would work with Ronald and Dieter. I asked him if he was OK and the children were OK and if I could see them when things settled down,” she said. “He said yes.”[/b] Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner, Jackson associates, have also been named by prosecutors as unindicted co-conspirators. Zonen then asked, “Did you want to see the children?” With tears welling in her eyes, she said, “Yes, very much.” [b]Rowe said her conversation with Jackson lasted perhaps 2½ minutes and there was no discussion of what he wanted her to do other than to work with his associates.[/b] She said all she could recall him saying was, “There was a bad video coming out.” [b]”Did he tell you with any specificity what he wanted you to do?” asked Zonen. “No,” she said.[/b] Her testimony did link Jackson to the making of the rebuttal video. But her account offered less evidence than the persecution seemed to expect to tie Jackson to a conspiracy. [b]She said she was not pressured to say anything specific and that there was “no quid pro quo.” Asked why she would help Jackson, she said, “I promised him I would always be there for Michael and the children.” She did not give any details of her private life with Jackson and made it clear that she did not want to discuss it. “My personal life was my personal life and no one’s business,” she said when asked by the prosecution if she had talked completely truthfully on the video that was made.[/b] Rowe said that before the interview began at Schaffel’s home, they talked briefly about her family and he reported on her children’s progress. She said Schaffel told her that “they were fine, that Michael was going to be OK, how big the children had gotten and how beautiful they were and how strongheaded Paris was, like me.” She said the videotaped interview lasted nine hours and that she recently saw a two-hour version of it which was shown to her by prosecutors. She said she found it “very boring and dull” and didn’t really pay attention while she was watching it. Rowe said she did not see the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary before her interview was taped. “All I knew is whatever what is being put out about Michael was hurtful to Michael and the children,” she said. Rowe said she told Jackson’s associates that before she could take part in the video she needed a release from a confidentiality agreement. “The confidentiality agreement said I could not speak with the press, public, anyone, regarding Michael or the children or our lives together,” she said. Rowe was expected back on the stand Thursday for more questioning. Earlier in the day, Jackson’s attorneys asked for a mistrial but were turned down by Judge Rodney S. Melville during a controversy involving testimony about the television documentary. Former Jackson videographer Hamid Moslehi testified that during taping of the documentary he used his own camera to record the scenes as a backup for Jackson. He said the ultimate documentary was edited in a way that “Mr. Jackson sounded different than if they had continued another two or three seconds of that statement.” The judge had earlier barred the defense from showing sections of Moslehi’s tape, so he ordered prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss to cease questioning Moslehi about his tape. But the prosecutor again ventured into that area, drawing another warning. The defense finally made a motion for a mistrial, but the judge said he believed he had taken care of the problem by raising his own objection to the testimony. Source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/state/20050427-1531-ca-michaeljackson.html

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