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The Michael Jackson Trial

Jurors hear Jackson case origins

Psychologist and lawyer describe roles in starting case


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Michael Jackson smiles as he leaves the courthouse Wednesday afternoon.
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SANTA MARIA, California (CNN) -- Jurors in the Michael Jackson trial learned more details Wednesday about how authorities first learned of child molestation allegations against the pop star.

The testimony came from the same lawyer and psychologist involved in similar charges made against him a decade ago.

Wednesday's court appearance by Dr. Stan Katz, a Beverly Hills psychologist who also treated a boy who accused the singer of a sex crime a decade ago, was widely anticipated to be a key moment in the trial.

But he was on the stand for only about an hour, after truncated questioning by the prosecution did not give the defense much room to grill him on cross-examination.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville had ruled earlier that Katz couldn't tell jurors whether he thought Jackson's teenage accuser and his family were credible, or whether he believed the events they described actually happened.

Katz testified he conducted eight interviews in May and June 2003 with the accuser and his mother, brother and sister. He did not provide details of what they told him.

After the interviews, however, he said he informed Larry Feldman -- the attorney who hired him to "help sort things out" with the family -- that they needed to report abuse allegations to authorities.

The family told the state Division of Children and Family Services and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, which launched an investigation that led to Jackson's indictment.

In a related development, the lawyer for Christopher Eric Carter, a key prosecution witness who has been charged in a string of Nevada armed robberies, said Wednesday he has advised the former Jackson bodyguard not to testify at the trial. (Full story)

Carter's testimony would be important to the prosecution because what he told the grand jury that indicted Jackson last year appears to corroborate the accuser's statement that the singer gave him alcohol, as the indictment alleges.

Cross-examination limited

The brevity of the prosecution's questioning of Katz limited what defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. could ask on cross-examination, which has to be within the scope of the prosecution's direct exam.

In an attempt to draw parallels with the accuser in the Jackson case, Mesereau focused much of his questioning on books and articles by Katz in which the psychologist discusses how abuse victims behave.

Katz also testified about the frequency of false allegations of sexual abuse, saying very few are made by children older than 5.

He said it would be "extremely rare" for preadolescent boys, like Jackson's accuser, to make a false claim because they are "hyper-sensitive" about their sexuality.

He said an absence of physical evidence corroborating a molestation claim is not unusual.

"Fondling doesn't leave marks or bruises or semen," he said.

In 1993, Feldman represented the family of another teenage boy who said Jackson molested him. Without admitting guilt, Jackson agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement to end a civil suit over those charges.

Katz told jurors Wednesday about his involvement in the earlier case, which he portrayed as limited.

He said he was hired by Feldman's law firm to review videotape of an interview another psychologist had conducted with Jackson's 1993 accuser and offer his opinion as an expert on child abuse.

The defense has pointed to the common cast of characters in the two cases to support its contention that the latest charges were made up to extract another financial bonanza -- and that the involvement of some of the same people could account for common details in cases a decade apart.

When pressed about his relationship with Feldman, Katz insisted he had little contact with him in the decade between the two cases.

"I have no social relationship with him," he said.

Lawyer offers more background

Feldman has not been called to testify in the trial. But the lawyer who referred the mother of Jackson's current accuser to him, William Dickerman, took the stand Wednesday to describe the series of events leading to Feldman's involvement in the case.

Dickerman said he was hired by the mother in February 2003, after the boy, then 13, appeared with Jackson in a controversial television documentary in which they were shown holding hands.

She wanted Dickerman to write letters to networks who aired the program demanding that they stop using the boy's image, he said.

The next month, after the family broke off contact with Jackson and left his Neverland Ranch for good, Dickerman said he also began sending letters to Mark Geragos, Jackson's attorney at the time.

Dickerman said he demanded in the letters that Jackson put a stop to what the family described as a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including surveillance of family members and people banging on their door late at night.

He said he also asked for the return of items belonging to the family, including birth certificates, passports and personal property, including the accuser's underwear and his tap shoes.

Dickerman said that as he worked with the family and "learned a lot of things" he decided to refer them to Feldman because "he was the go-to guy with regard to Michael Jackson matters."

Under cross-examination by the defense, Dickerman admitted he had an arrangement with Feldman under which he would share any legal fees generated by a successful civil suit against Jackson.

The defense contends that criminal charges against Jackson are designed to reinforce an eventual civil claim against him by the boy, now 15, and his family. Dickerman discounted such a motive.

"I don't anticipate any lawsuit," he said, adding that the boy's mother never asked him to seek money from anyone.

Dickerman conceded that in the letters he wrote to Geragos in the spring of 2003, he never mentioned anything about allegations of child molestation or alcohol consumption, or that the family claimed it had been held against its will at Neverland.

He said he never called police to report any wrongdoing by Jackson. He said he did call the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department once to check on the progress of the investigation triggered by Katz and Feldman.

Dickerman said he did not see any of the alleged harassment of the accuser's family by Jackson's camp that he mentioned in his letters to Geragos.

Jackson, wearing a dark suit with a light peach vest and a dark peach armband, attended court Wednesday with his parents.

At one point as he was entering the Santa Monica courthouse, he playfully patted one of his bodyguards on the head.

Testimony about plane flight

Testimony resumed Wednesday morning with more questioning of Cynthia Ann Bell, a flight attendant who said she served Jackson wine disguised in a soda can on a private jet flight from Miami to California with the accuser and his family in February 2003.

Bell, who testified Tuesday that she did not see Jackson share alcohol with his accuser or anyone else, described Jackson as intoxicated but not drunk on the flight, explaining that he was just "a lot more relaxed."

She said the accuser was rude and demanding throughout the flight, at one point triggering a food fight by throwing mashed potatoes at Jackson's doctor.

"He acted like I was his maid," Bell said, adding that neither Jackson nor the boy's mother stepped in to discipline him.

She said the policy of the charter company that operated the plane, which Jackson often used, was to have wine in soda cans available for him. On Tuesday, Bell testified that Jackson did not direct her to disguise the wine in the soda can.

She also said that during the flight she saw Jackson touching the boy "at times," putting his arm around him. But she said she would not describe what she saw as cuddling.

Jackson was indicted last April by a state grand jury on 10 felony counts for incidents that allegedly occurred in February and March 2003.

The 46-year-old singer is accused of molesting the boy at Neverland, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive in 2003.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

CNN's Dree DeClamecy and Stan Wilson contributed to this report.


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