Friend: Accuser’s family never complained about so-called captivity

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[b]Friend: Accuser’s family never complained about so-called captivity[/b] SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) — The family of Michael Jackson’s teenage accuser never complained they were being held against their will at the pop star’s Neverland Ranch in 2003 and they never asked for help to escape, a woman who befriended the family testified Thursday. “It’s Neverland. I don’t know who would want to escape,” said Azja Pryor, who also told jurors in Jackson’s child molestation trial that the boy’s mother only heaped praise on the entertainer, calling him an “angel” and a “father figure” who helped cure her son of cancer. The prosecution alleges Jackson and five associates conspired to control and manipulate the family in February and March 2003, including holding them against their will, after British journalist Martin Bashir’s unflattering television documentary, “Living With Michael Jackson,” was broadcast. It aired February 3, 2003 in Britain and on February 6 in the United States. Pryor’s testimony came on a day that Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville barred potential testimony by CNN talk show host Larry King and Michael Viner, identified by The Associated Press as a publisher. Melville’s ruling concerned a conversation King and Viner had last year with attorney Larry Feldman, who represented the accuser’s family just weeks before molestation was alleged. Pryor testified Thursday that she met the accuser’s family in 2000 through comedian Chris Tucker, with whom she has a son. She said she developed a close bond with the family, particularly the accuser’s younger sister, who would spend nights at her house. Tearing up on the stand, Pryor said, “It’s hard for me, because I really do love the kids.” [b]In the weeks after the Bashir documentary aired, Pryor said she spent time with the family and also talked with the accuser’s mother a number of times by phone. Pryor also said the mother was upset after the broadcast, both because of the media glare and because she had not given permission for her children to be taped. Fearing she was in over her head, Pryor said she recommended the mother hire an attorney. Pryor said the mother was “eager” and “excited” to give an interview rebutting the documentary, which was taped on February 19, 2003. The woman never told Pryor that she was being forced to do the interview, nor that she was being asked to memorize a script or rehearse, Pryor said. The mother also told Pryor she wanted to do the interview to show the friendship that her son had with Jackson “was taken completely out of context” by Bashir and “to tell the world this friendship was nothing more than what they saw — a beautiful friendship,” Pryor said.[/b] Enthusiasm for Brazil trip In earlier testimony, the mother testified her praise of Jackson was scripted and that she was “acting.” She also said Jackson’s associates told her the family would have to be shipped off to Brazil because she had done an inadequate job in the interview. [b]Pryor said that during conversations in February 2003, the mother was enthusiastic about going to Brazil, telling her that Jackson and his family were also going. She said the mother even invited her to go along. “She told me they were going to Brazil for carnival,” Pryor said. “I said, ‘Sure, I’d love to go.'”[/b] But in testimony the mother insisted she did not want to go to Brazil, and she said she and her children were held against their will as preparations were made for the trip. [b]Pryor said that in a phone call in March, the mother told her the trip had been canceled, and she did not seem upset by the change in plans. At that point, Pryor said, “I don’t think she wanted to go.” The mother said she was concerned because her children would miss school and because she didn’t know where the family would be staying.[/b] Larry King never took the stand Earlier Thursday, outside the presence of the jury, King said that during a meeting at a restaurant last year, [b]Feldman told him the accuser’s mother was a “wacko,” “erratic” and was pursuing the charges against Jackson “just for the money.”[/b] King also said Feldman told him he didn’t want to represent the mother and advised her to contact authorities with the allegations. When Feldman testified earlier in the trial, he insisted that he had never made statements to third parties about the credibility of the accuser’s mother or the veracity of their claims about Jackson. The defense wanted both King and Viner to tell jurors what they heard in an effort to cast doubt on Feldman’s denial. [b]Viner, also outside the presence of the jury, supported King’s account of the conversation. “I walked away believing definitely that [Feldman] did not believe the allegations,” Viner said.[/b] Under cross-examination Viner said he could not remember Feldman quoting anything the mother told him, which would have violated attorney-client privilege. After hearing what King and Viner planned to say, the judge refused to let them take the stand. “I don’t find any reason to allow Mr. King to testify,” Melville said. In 1993, Feldman represented the family of another 13-year-old boy who alleged was molested by Jackson. That case resulted in a multimillion-dollar confidential civil settlement, in which Jackson admitted no guilt. After the settlement, authorities in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties dropped a criminal probe of Jackson because the boy would no longer cooperate. Jackson’s defense has pointed to Feldman’s link to both cases as evidence that the accuser’s family was motivated by the promise of a hefty settlement. However, both Feldman and the boy’s mother insisted in their testimony that no civil suit against Jackson has been, or will be, filed. … Source:

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