Local News [b]THE JACKSON TRIAL: Culkin: ‘He never molested me'[/b] 5/12/05 By DAWN HOBBS NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER “Home Alone” star, who spent time as a child at Neverland, defends relationship with singer “Home Alone” star Macaulay Culkin took the stand on Wednesday morning and insisted Michael Jackson never molested him, contradicting prosecution testimony that the entertainer fondled the actor when he was a child. Mr. Culkin acknowledged that he would sometimes fall asleep in his close friend’s bed when he was 9 to 14 years old, but said nothing improper ever occurred. “I slept in his room about as often as I fell asleep anywhere (at Neverland),” Mr. Culkin said. “I’d flop down and fall asleep in the theater. . . . I’d wear myself out in the video arcade and fall asleep playing games.” The defense called the celebrity witness to rebut the story told by a former Neverland Valley Ranch chef who said he once saw Mr. Jackson with his hands up the boy’s shorts. During cross-examination, prosecutor Ron Zonen attempted to unnerve Mr. Culkin with the charge that his testimony would be more accurate if he were to say that the entertainer never molested him while he was awake. But the witness was unmoved. “He never molested me,” Mr. Culkin said. “But as a 9-year-old kid . . . you wouldn’t know what happened while you were sleeping, right?” Mr. Zonen pressed. “I find that unlikely,” said Mr. Culkin. “I think I’d realize if something like that happened.” The actor appeared at ease on the witness stand and smiled at Mr. Jackson, who greeted him with a nod of the head. Phillip LeMarque, the former Neverland chef, recently testified that he saw Mr. Jackson with his hand up the child actor’s shorts as the entertainer lifted him to reach an arcade game. Under questioning by lead defense lawyer Thomas Mesereau, Mr. Culkin, who was on the stand for more than an hour, described Mr. Jackson: “He was very childlike. He liked doing things we liked to do. He liked the arcade games, although he wasn’t as good as us. . . . He liked to play tag. You could play with him like you’d play with other kids.” The prosecution has repeatedly told jurors about the adult books, magazines and videos seized from Mr. Jackson’s ranch. During further cross-examination, Mr. Zonen asked Mr. Culkin: “Is it childlike to have sexually explicit magazines?” “When I was 12 or 13, I had a couple Playboys under my bed myself,” Mr. Culkin responded. Mr. Zonen asked whether it would be “consistent with childlike behavior” to have magazines filled with photographs of “men engaged in sexual acts or women inserting things into themselves.” “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having those things, whether it’s childlike or not,” Mr. Culkin said. “He’s a human being, and human beings have these things. . . . I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about it at all.” Several former Neverland employees have testified that they saw the entertainer molest five boys in the early 1990s. But Mr. Culkin and two others have told jurors that nothing happened to them. Prosecutors used the witnesses from a 1993 investigation of Mr. Jackson in an attempt to show that the entertainer has a history of molesting adolescent boys. Defense lawyers insist that the stories are false. They contend the former employees are bitter because they lost a wrongful-termination civil suit against Mr. Jackson and were ordered to pay him $1.5 million. Prosecutors brought up the earlier case in an effort to lend weight to the current accuser’s allegations that Mr. Jackson molested him in his bed at Neverland in March 2003. The boy was 13 at the time. Mr. Jackson has pleaded not guilty to child molestation, administering alcohol to a minor to commit a felony, and conspiracy. The prosecutor was prohibited from asking Mr. Culkin about his pending misdemeanor drug charges in Oklahoma City, where he’s scheduled to appear in court June 8. Under defense questioning, Mr. Culkin recalled how he met Mr. Jackson after the blockbuster “Home Alone” hurled him into the spotlight. “One day I was a normal kid who happened to be an actor and the next day there’s people hiding in the bushes trying to take pictures of you,” Mr. Culkin said. “People try to profit from you. All of a sudden you have a million acquaintances and no friends. . . . The first time we spoke, he said he understood . . . You can’t really talk to people about this stuff . . . He understood it and it was a comforting thing. . . . It wasn’t a child performer self-help group, but we’d talk about it, how we’re part of a unique group of people.” After Mr. Culkin’s testimony, the defense played outtakes from a British documentary in which Mr. Jackson is shown holding hands with the boy who would later become his accuser. The outtakes, played on a large screen in the Santa Maria courtroom, showed interviewer Martin Bashir flattering the entertainer as he gathered material for the documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson.” The defense used the outtakes to try to convince jurors that Mr. Bashir took Mr. Jackson’s statements out of context. The lawyers also used it as an opportunity to humanize their client. In the outtakes, he described his quest for knowledge through writers such as Emerson, Wordsworth, Hemingway and Kipling. Jurors chuckled as Mr. Jackson said he once wanted to have a celebrity animal party for Bubbles, his chimpanzee. Some looked over at Mr. Jackson as he explained, in the outtakes, that fame made him a target for the media, causing him much loneliness: “It hurts to be misunderstood. . . . No matter how good your intentions are, there’s always some jerk, some mean-spirited person trying to bring you down.” He said he’s been inspired by the innocence of children. “I haven’t been betrayed or deceived by children,” he said. “Adults have let me down. . . . Didn’t Jesus say . . . behave like the children? Not childish — childlike.” Mr. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, rubbed the knee of her husband, Joe, as they watched their son explain the need for International Children’s Day. “It would be a day when your mother and father say, ‘I love you,’ and ask ‘Would you like to go to the park today, the beach, a toy store?’ ” the entertainer said. “If I had that day, my relationship with my father would be totally different. He never even played a game with me. . . . With a little love and a little caring, I’ve seen kids totally turn around.” Source: http://news.newspress.com/topsports/051205jackson.htm

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