"When you are at Neverland you forget all your problems," said Joy Robson, whose son, Wade, testified Thursday that Jackson never molested him and directly contradicted a prosecution witness' account that he and Jackson once showered together.
Jackson defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. asked what the Robson family did on visits to Neverland.
The witness said they watched movies and, in particular, she liked the chimpanzees in Jackson's zoo.
The Robsons were among witnesses that Jackson's defense is calling to counter a part of the prosecution case that was intended to show that Jackson has a history of inappropriate behavior with boys.
On cross-examination, District Attorney Tom Sneddon questioned the mother about whether she thought Jackson would help her son, who is now a dancer and film director, succeed in show business.
"Did you in your mind think that by having a connection and a friendship with Mr. Jackson that that could help promote your son's career?" Sneddon asked.
"You're trying to make me say that that was the basis for our friendship and that's not true," she said.
Prosecutors objected to the answer as non-responsive and Judge Rodney S. Melville sustained the objection.
Defense attorneys opened their case Thursday after the judge rejected a motion seeking outright acquittal on grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove its allegations.
"There were a lot of holes in the prosecution's case and now Jackson's lawyers are trying to fill those holes with a narrative that is obviously a lot more favorable to their client," says. "This is precisely the sort of testimony that is likely to make a difference: a so-called Jackson victim, with direct personal knowledge of what might have occurred, coming forward to say there was no molestation, at least not with him."
Wade Robson, the first witness, said he has known Jackson since age 5 and stayed at Neverland more than 20 times. He slept in Jackson's bedroom on all but three or four of those visits, he said.
Robson, 22, said his overnight visits involved talking, watching movies, playing video games, and occasionally pillow fights. But he said Jackson never touched him in a sexual way.
"I'm telling you nothing happened," the witness said.
Asked if something might have happened while he was asleep, Robson said, "I think something like that would wake me up."
In cross-examination, prosecutor Ron Zonen suggested that when Robson said Jackson never molested him, "What you're really telling us is that nothing happened when you were awake."
Zonen then sought to suggest that the witness was often so exhausted by practicing dance and having fun at the ranch that he might have slept heavily.
A former Jackson maid, the mother of a boy who got a multimillion-dollar settlement from Jackson in the 1990s after accusing the star of molestation, testified previously that she once saw Jackson showering with Robson. Robson said he had never showered with the singer.
The prosecution rested Wednesday after calling more than 80 witnesses in an attempt to prove Jackson fondled a 13-year-old cancer survivor, plied him with alcohol, and conspired to detain him and his family so they would rebut a damaging documentary by Martin Bashir in which Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed.
While cross-examining Robson, Zonen approached the witness stand carrying two books taken from Jackson's home, one showing nude boys and the other showing men in sexual acts.
Robson said he did not consider the book about boys to be pornographic, but he appeared to be taken aback when shown the book depicting men in sex acts.
"Would you be concerned with a man who possesses that book crawling into bed with a 10-year-old boy?" Zonen asked.
Robson paused and said quietly, "Yes."
Mesereau quickly countered, asking Robson if he would feel differently if he knew that Jackson also had a collection of 10 years' worth of Playboy, Hustler and other heterosexual pornographic magazines. Robson said he would feel differently and would no longer be concerned about it.
Mesereau also pointed out Robson's fiancee in the courtroom and had him confirm that he is heterosexual.
The defense had filed its motion for acquittal immediately after the prosecution rested Wednesday. Such motions are common and are rarely successful.
Jackson's attorneys said the accuser, his brother and his mother told a string of lies on the stand, calling the mother a "bizarre" witness who told a "whopper."
Defense attorney Robert Sanger said the mother was dishonest when she said that her video interview rebutting the documentary was false. He also said the accuser's brother falsely said he never pulled a knife on a woman, and the sister gave false accounts of where she slept at Neverland.
Sneddon, who has pursued Jackson for more than a decade, countered that the evidence was overwhelming and that he was "sick and tired" of defense claims that witnesses committed perjury.
The judge said he was reluctant to make a decision about the credibility of the witnesses, suggesting that was the jury's job.