Authorities raided the Los Angeles area home of Michael Jackson's personal assistant as part of their investigation into allegations the entertainer molested a boy at his Neverland Ranch, a newspaper reported Thursday.
The person's name was blacked out in court documents released Wednesday, but the Santa Barbara News-Press identified her as Evelyn "Evvy" Tavasci of suburban Sherman Oaks. Tavasci has worked for Jackson, 46, for more than a decade.
Tavasci told the News-Press that a court-imposed gag order prohibited her from discussing the case. Jackson pleaded not guilty in April to child molestation and conspiracy charges. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 31.
The court documents state that a day after the search, defense lawyers requested that Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville seal a list of all the items seized. Melville approved the request Wednesday.
Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau said the Sept. 15 search violates attorney-client privilege because items seized relate to the singer's legal representation, including three folders labeled "Mesereau."
Tavasci pays Jackson's personal bills, the entertainer's former business associates told the paper.
The warrant for the search is among nearly 100 that have been issued in the case. At least 20 were approved this month.
Last week, the mother of the boy accusing Michael Jackson of molestation she did not remember a private investigator telling her that he was working for one of the pop star's attorneys, but believed he worked directly for the singer.
The woman took the stand in a hearing at which Jackson's defense is seeking to exclude evidence seized from the private investigator's office on grounds of attorney-client privilege, as well as some items taken from his Neverland Ranch during a search.
The testimony was the first time since the case began that the accuser's mother came face to face with the pop star, whom she had called "the devil" at a grand jury hearing earlier this year.
Jackson's attorneys are trying to show that the accuser's mother and prosecutors should have known private investigator Bradley Miller was working for Jackson's then-attorney Mark Geragos when authorities seized items from Miller's office.
During questioning of the woman, Mesereau referred repeatedly to a transcript of an interview between Miller and the mother Feb. 16, 2003, just days after her young son appeared with Jackson on a television special.
Mesereau noted the transcript said Miller told her at the beginning and end of the interview that he was a private investigator working for "specifically an attorney named Mark Geragos who works for Michael Jackson."
She would not answer directly when Mesereau repeatedly asked if the document was false.
"I'm not denying it was said. I'm saying I don't remember," she testified.
The woman said she believed Miller was Jackson's private investigator because someone named "Frank" had told her so before she met Miller. She did not further identify "Frank."
A day earlier, Jackson's defense attorneys played video recordings of the Neverland search, arguing that law enforcement officers overstepped their bounds by taking items not covered in a search warrant.