Alleged Jacko Victim Very Sick

Michael Jackson flashes the "V sign" to the crowd as he exits the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, for his arraignment on child molestation charges. AP

A former attorney for the mother of Michael Jackson's cancer-stricken accuser says the boy is in very poor health, the family is paying little attention to Jackson's child molestation court case, and does not plan to seek money from the pop star.

"They're in hiding...They're very private people," says William Dickerman, who describes himself as a friend of the family.

He says he's in frequent contact with them, and recently saw the boy, who's struggling with medical problems including having had to have a kidney, his spleen and an adrenal gland removed because of a large tumor.

Dickerman, who excused himself from the case last fall after it became clear that Jackson might face criminal charges, also says based on what he knows of the evidence, prosecutors have a strong case.

Michael Jackson - who drew widespread criticism for his showy and tardy behavior at his arraignment last week - has denied the charge of having sexually molested the boy.

Jackson has also said he would hurt himself before he would ever hurt a child.

Many of his supporters believe the pop star has been unfairly targeted for prosecution. The latest to come to his defense was mentalist Uri Geller, who said he once put Jackson under hypnosis and asked him about child molestation accusations - and believes Jackson's statement that he would not do such a thing.

There is a gag order - which the pop star's attorneys oppose - in effect prohibiting all parties involved in the trial from speaking to the media.

Dickerman isn't sure to what extent that order might apply to him, so he is selective in his comments.

"Is a D.A. really going to put into gear the machinery of an entire district attorney's office on a case involving such a renowned person without having a stronger basis than he said-she said?" the Los Angeles-based attorney said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

He said there was "plenty of persuasive oral evidence," including findings of molestation by "a very conservative psychologist who is inclined not to find molestation." Asked if there was physical evidence, he replied, "It certainly wouldn't surprise me."

Dickerman does provide several details about how the allegations against the pop superstar eventually reached prosecutors.

He says the family was brought to him last year by Jamie Masada, a comedy club owner who introduced Jackson and the boy late in 2002.

According to Dickerman, the family was concerned about Jackson-related matters that did not involve molestation. The molestation allegations, says the attorney, arose later.

Dickerman says at that time, he contacted attorney Larry Feldman, who represented the boy who accused Jackson of molestation in 1993, and that Feldman later took over the case. The boy who made the allegations in 1993 reportedly received a multi-million dollar settlement from Jackson and refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

"Since he'd essentially written the book on civil action with Michael Jackson, he would be the one to give more thorough counsel on Michael Jackson," explains Dickerman.

Feldman did not return a call for comment Tuesday. But a source close to the family confirms that Feldman did meet with the boy and his mother, and had the boy see a psychologist.

The psychologist, who had handled celebrity cases before, went to authorities under a legal requirement to report any claims of child molestation.

Jackson was charged last month with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent," reportedly wine, between Feb. 7 and March 10, 2003. He has pleaded not guilty.

Also Tuesday, Jackson attorney Mark Geragos and Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon submitted proposed additions to the judge's order barring them from speaking about the case. The judge asked for written arguments when he issued the gag order Friday, in response to Geragos' request that he be allowed to respond to false information about his client.

Geragos' proposal asked that attorneys be allowed to respond to statements that would subject a client to "undue prejudice" or "adverse publicity."

Sneddon asked for more restrictive rules, saying attorneys should only be allowed to issue written responses, and only when the basis of a question is false. He also asked that the attorneys on each side confer with each other before releasing responses.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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