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Jackson Defense Aims At Accuser

Michael Jackson ,left, and his mother Katherine Jackson, arrive for his child molestation trial on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif.
AP
As employees and acquaintances of Michael Jackson take the stand one by one in an attempt to poke holes in the prosecution's child molestation and conspiracy case, defense lawyers may be preparing the pop star to testify.

Los Angeles attorney Gary Dunlap - who has bad blood of his own with D.A. Tom Sneddon, and is suing him for malicious prosecution - told CBS News that he is advising the defense team. He declined to say whether that advice includes getting Jackson ready to testify in his own defense.

CBS News Consultant J. Randy Taraborrelli says sources say the Jackson defense team has brought in an expert to help Jackson in case he does take the stand.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a then-13-year-old boy between Feb. 20 and March 12, 2003, plying him with wine and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to make a video to rebut the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," which aired in the U.S. on Feb. 6, 2003.

Defense lawyers worry that if Jackson does take the stand, he would be presented with pornographic material found in his home and would be asked to comment on them. CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales notes that this is precisely what happened to a Jackson protégé who testified recently.

A source close to Jackson tells CBS says no decision has been made yet on whether he will testify. But other celebrities are stepping in, including "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, who is expected to testify next week about being contacted by the family of Jackson's accuser.

CBS News Correspondent Steve Futterman reports that Larry King is set to take the stand Thursday. The television talk show host is expected to tell jurors that an attorney for the alleged victim's family once questioned whether the molestation allegations were true.

The pop star got some support Tuesday night from real estate mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump, in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," noting that he was Jackson's landlord for several years, never had a single problem with him, and considers him a friend.

In Tuesday's testimony, the defense continued its drive to portray the accusation against Jackson as fabricated, and the accuser and his family as having enjoyed all the perks at Neverland at the time they were there - with no complaints.

A cousin of Michael Jackson, 16-year-old Simone Jackson, testified that she once ran into the accuser and his brother in the Neverland kitchen - each holding a bottle of wine, allegedly asking her to keep quiet about the incident.

Also on the witness stand Tuesday was former Neverland chef's assistant Angel Vivanco, who said that the sister of Michael Jackson's accuser talked to him frequently during and after her and her family's visit to the singer's ranch and never complained of being treated badly.

Angel Vivanco said he spent time with the sister after work about five or six times while the family was at the ranch in February and March 2003, the period in which prosecutors say Jackson molested the girl's brother and conspired to hold the family captive.

Vivanco said the sister continued to call him for about two weeks after they left but never said Jackson or anyone else had mistreated them.

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