Workers: Boys were out of control

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[b]Workers: Boys were out of control[/b] 5/10/05 By DAWN HOBBS Heads of security, housekeeping departments testify NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER Neverland Valley Ranch employees said Monday that Michael Jackson’s accuser and his brother were frequently out of control while visiting the entertainer’s sprawling Los Olivos estate. Violet Silva, head of security now and when the family visited the ranch in early 2003, testified in the Santa Maria courtroom that the young teens were caught driving Mr. Jackson’s Navigator and the ranch’s Chevy Astro. “They were pretty reckless — driving fast in the golf carts and just getting into the ranch vehicles and taking off,” Ms. Silva said during questioning by defense co-counsel Robert Sanger. “We’d have to stop them.” The testimony bolstered the defense contention that the boys were unruly teenagers and that their bad behavior was not the result of an alleged molestation, which the accuser testified occurred later, during the last week of the family’s stay in March 2003. Under cross-examination by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon, Ms. Silva said that because the boys were caught in the sport utility vehicles, security guards were instructed not to allow them to leave the ranch. Mr. Sneddon had said the directive, given by the ranch manager, was part of a conspiracy to keep the family captive. Several former Neverland employees took the stand Monday and undercut the statements made by former employees who testified for the prosecution. Monday marked the beginning of the 11th week of the high-profile child molestation trial and the defense’s third day of putting on its case, which is expected to last up to eight weeks. Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering alcohol to a minor to commit a felony and conspiracy. Gayle Goforth, a former head housekeeper, testified that during one of the family’s first visits to the ranch in August 2002, the mother asked her for a job. At that time, her son, the accuser, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer in Los Angeles. “Shortly after their arrival, she started talking to me about being concerned about her son’s health and that they were having money problems and if I would give her a job at the ranch,” Ms. Goforth said. When Ms. Goforth responded that it would be too far to drive and she should just take care of her son, “She told me she’d move to the valley to be closer to the ranch,” Ms. Goforth said. Her testimony lent weight to the defense assertion that the mother wanted to live at the ranch where the wealthy entertainer could take care of her and her family. On cross-examination, Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen prodded Ms. Goforth to expand on her statement. “I told her the rents were expensive in the area,” Ms. Goforth said. “She said, ‘We’ll, I’ll come and sleep in my car if we need to. We need the money.’ ” Ranch manager Joe Marcus, the defense’s 11th witness, told jurors the boy and his brother were “destructive. . . . They wrote some graffiti. They just weren’t very respectful.” He also testified that whenever he saw the mother, “she seemed to be enjoying herself,” contradicting her allegation that she was being held captive. Prosecutors allege Mr. Jackson and his associates held the family against their will to force them to participate in a video portraying Mr. Jackson in a positive light. “Did (she) appear to ever try to leave the ranch and not be allowed to do so?” Mr. Sanger asked. “No,” Mr. Marcus responded. “Did (she) ever complain about anything?” Mr. Sanger continued. “Never,” Mr. Marcus answered. During the period when the mother said the family was being held captive, Mr. Marcus testified he took them shopping in Solvang and waited in the car until they finished. He also testified he sat in the waiting room of a Solvang orthodontist while the boy had his braces removed, a procedure paid for by Mr. Jackson. The mother testified she never had an opportunity to tell anyone her family was being held hostage because she was always under the surveillance of Mr. Jackson’s associates or employees. Mr. Marcus is expected to continue his testimony today. Other ranch employees are scheduled to follow. Source:

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