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Jackson Defense Aims At Accuser

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.

The jury Tuesday also heard from a social worker who said she met with Jackson's accuser and his family during the time they claim they were "captives," and they both praised him and denied any sexual abuse.

Irene Peters, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, said she met with the mother and her three children on Feb. 20, 2003, after the airing of a documentary that drew attention to Jackson's relationship with the boy who is now his accuser.

"I asked him if he had ever been sexually abused by Michael Jackson and he became upset. He said, 'Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me. He never touched me,'" Peters testified. She said the accuser told her Jackson "was very kind to him and treated him like a father."

Peters testified that the mother of the boy who says he was molested by Michael Jackson told her she believed the singer helped her son survive cancer.

She said the mother told her that Jackson had been like a father to her children, saying at one point she thought Jackson was "responsible for helping (the boy) survive his cancer."

Defense attorneys are trying to show that the accuser's family fabricated the molestation allegations in an attempt to get money from Jackson.

The boy, a cancer survivor, appeared with Jackson in the documentary. Jackson told interviewer Martin Bashir that he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.

Peters said she separately interviewed the mother, the accuser's younger brother and his older sister, and all of them praised Jackson. She said the mother even gave Jackson credit for her son's victory over cancer.

Rather than wanting to flee Jackson's Neverland ranch, the mother initially asked if the social worker could do her interview at the pop star's estate, Peters said.

Peters said, however, that she wanted to see where they were living and so she was invited to the home of the mother's boyfriend, who is now her husband.

"She denied all allegations of general neglect," Peters said. "I asked her about the relationship with Michael Jackson. She went on to say he was like a father to her children and she felt he was responsible for helping (the boy) to survive his cancer, for his cancer to go into remission.

"I asked her if the kids ever slept in Michael Jackson's room and she said no, that never happened."

Under questioning by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., Peters said the family members never mentioned being held against their will.

The interview took place the morning after the family made the rebuttal video, which they later claimed they were forced to do by Jackson's associates.