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Jackson Pals: Just Sleep, No Sex

Defense witness for the Michael Jackson child molestation trial, Wade Robson, arrives for court at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria, California Thursday, May 5, 2005. Robson, 22, a professional dancer testified Thursday that he has known Jackson since the age of 5.
AP
Michael Jackson's defense team is off and running.

Thursday, the defense called two men - now in their early 20s - who each told of meeting Jackson at age 5 and going on to spend many nights with the pop star, but never having any kind of sexual contact with him.

Friday, the mothers of the two men may take the stand, as Jackson's lawyers work to refute the testimony of the 80 witnesses called by the prosecution in the nearly ten weeks it took to try to convince the jury that the singer is guilty of child molestation and conspiracy.

Jackson is accused of fondling a 13-year-old cancer survivor, giving him alcohol, and conspiring to detain the teen and his family so they could rebut a damaging documentary by Martin Bashir in which Jackson said he let children sleep in his bed.

The defense began its case Thursday after Judge Rodney Melville denied its motion for an acquittal. Jackson's attorneys had argued that the state failed to prove its case, and that prosecution witnesses had "a tendency to self-destruct" on the stand.

The first defense witness, dancer and film director, Wade Robson, said he has known Jackson since age 5 and stayed at his friend's Neverland ranch more than 20 times. He slept in Jackson's bedroom on all but three or four of those visits, he said.

Robson, 22, said they played video games, watched movies, talked and sometimes had pillow fights, but Jackson never touched him in an inappropriate or sexual way.

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 Jackson.

"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."

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."

"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."

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.

Robson and a defense witness who testified later Thursday, Brett Barnes, were among individuals mentioned in the portion of the prosecution case intended to show that Jackson has a pattern of past inappropriate behavior with boys.

Barnes, 23, of Melbourne, Australia, said he met Jackson at age 5 when the singer passed through Australia on tour. He said he was already a Jackson fan and his mother wrote a letter telling Jackson about him.

"After a while, we received a phone call from him and we became really good friends," he said.

Barnes said that as a youth he stayed with Jackson at least 10 times. Asked if he had ever been touched inappropriately, Barnes said, "Never, I wouldn't stand for it."

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