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Jackson Case: Boys' relatives: Sleepovers were innocent fun

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Editor's Note: As part of's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from This story was first published in 2005.

(Court TV) -- Family members of two boys who were Michael Jackson's "special friends" more than a decade ago testified Friday that there was nothing wrong with letting children sleep in the entertainer's bed.

"I've known Michael for a long time. I've spent many hours talking to him about everything. I trust him. I trust him with my children," said Joy Robson, the mother of 22-year-old Wade Robson, a choreographer who denied Thursday that he showered naked with Jackson, as a prosecution witness claimed.

Robson said she, Wade, and 10-year-old daughter Chantal, stayed at Jackson's Neverland ranch in 1990 and have visited about four times a year ever since.

She said she let Wade, who was then 7, and Chantal sleep in Jackson's bedroom from the first visit.

"You have no idea, once you left that room, what went on, do you? No personal knowledge?" District Attorney Thomas Sneddon asked the witness during cross-examination.

"I know what my son tells me," Robson replied.

Lisbeth Barnes testified she had never seen Jackson touch her son Brett Barnes inappropriately, despite the claims of previous witnesses.

"I have total trust in him," Barnes told jurors.

"Had your son slept with any other men, other than relatives, adult grown men?" the prosecutor asked.

Barnes could not recall any men other than relatives with whom her son shared a bed.

Karlee Barnes and Chantal Robson, sisters to Brett and Wade, also testified that nothing untoward ever happened during their frequent Neverland sleepovers in the early 1990s.

Both girls said they chose not to sleep in Jackson's bedroom after the second or third visit.

"I'm a girl and I prefer to have a little privacy," said Chantal Robson. "I was developing into an adult."

Prosecutors contend that Jackson discouraged girls from sleeping in his room. But the constant refrain from the parade of female witnesses was that Jackson was like any other new best friend a boy could have, and that there was nothing wrong with the boys sleeping in his bed.

"It didn't seem odd to you that a 35-year-old man was sleeping with a 10-year-old boy?" prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss asked Chantal.

"No. Not at all," she replied.

Karlee Barnes described her and Wade "skipping, jumping and doing silly dances" late at night with the singer in his bedroom.

Joy Robson said she even spent a couple evenings lying in Jackson's bed watching movies and talking.

Robson said the family met Jackson in 1987 after Wade won a dance contest in Australia. Jackson believed in her son's talent, she said, and he ultimately helped the family move to the U.S., where he played a role in launching Robson's dance career.

Robson is now a successful celebrity choreographer and recently entered into a film-directing deal with Disney.

Sneddon suggested that Robson's ambition for her son's career blinded her to Jackson's salacious intentions.

"You thought your having a good relationship with the defendant would help?" Sneddon asked.

"You're putting words in my mouth," she shot back. "You're trying to say that's the basis for our friendship, and that's not true."

But Robson was forced to answer to statements she made in a 1993 deposition, when Jackson was being investigated for allegedly molesting a boy named Jordie Chandler.

At the time, Robson said she told Jordie's mother that Jackson had "special friends"  boys with whom he spent extra time  and that he replaced them year after year with new special friends.

Jackson's special friends according to Robson, included her son Wade in 1990, child actor Macaulay Culkin in 1991, Brett in 1992, and Jordie in 1993.

Robson downplayed the remark Friday, saying that the friendships were innocent.

Prosecutors believe that Jackson inappropriately touched all of those boys. But when the Chandler family received more than $20 million in exchange for their silence, the investigation was dropped, and Jackson was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Still, prosecutors argue that Jackson exhibited a criminal pattern with those young boys, similar to a pattern he engaged in with his current accuser, a 13-year-old cancer survivor, whom he is charged with molesting in spring of 2003.

To that end, prosecutors attempted to draw out details about the witnesses' relationships with Jackson that tended to mirror his relationship with the current accuser's family.

For instance, all of the mothers allowed their children to sleep in Jackson's bedroom from the start, some of them suffered instances in which they felt their boys preferred Jackson's company to their own, and all of them benefited from Jackson's financial help.

Robson conceded that she broke down in tears one Mother's Day because Wade spent the entire day with Jackson instead of her.

But like the other defense witnesses Friday, she insisted that Jackson was part of her family, and someone she unequivocally trusted with her children. She said they continue to visit him at Neverland to this day.

When asked to describe the 2,700-acre ranch, she described it as a place where she used to go to escape her troubles.

"I would have once said it was the happiest place on earth," Robson said, wistfully. "I particularly liked the chimpanzees." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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