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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 23:19 GMT 00:19 UK
Jackson lawyer rounds on mother
Michael Jackson outside court on 15 April
The pop star could face 20 years in jail if convicted
Michael Jackson's lawyer has launched an intense attack on the mother at the heart of his trial in California.

Thomas Mesereau said Janet Arvizo's allegations about the pop star's alleged abuse of her son, Gavin, were "in her mind".

Mrs Arvizo appealed directly to the jury, saying this was untrue, prompting the judge to intervene and admonish both her and Mr Jackson's lawyer.

Mr Jackson denies 10 charges, including child abuse and kidnapping.

The exchanges between Mrs Arvizo and Mr Mesereau were argumentative and unlike anything else heard during this trial so far, the BBC's Daniela Relph reports from the court.

'In your mind'

Mr Jackson's team had spent two days listening quietly in the court in Santa Maria as Mrs Arvizo told jurors that she and her children were imprisoned at the star's Neverland ranch, and that they had been stalked by "killers".

On Friday, in a series of tense exchanges, Mr Mesereau suggested her story was a lie.

Thomas Mesereau arrives in court on 15 April
Thomas Mesereau once defended boxer Mike Tyson

"How many times, in your mind, did you escape from that dungeon, Neverland?" he asked during his cross-examination.

While acknowledging that she had left the ranch and returned three times, Mrs Arvizo said she was enticed back by Mr Jackson's aides.

When the mother suggested that she was a "bad actress" in a filmed statement made as a rebuttal to a British TV documentary about the star, he fired back: "I think you're a good one."

At a number of points during their exchanges, Mrs Arvizo turned to the jury and told them Mr Mesereau's comments were inaccurate.

Judge Rodney Melville warned the lawyer to be more professional, and told Mrs Arvizo not to argue and to stop making lengthy answers to Mr Mesereau's questions.

Neverland is all about pornography, booze and sex with boys
Janet Arvizo

Later, Mrs Arvizo said Mr Jackson's associates had told her that the pop star never drank alcohol, but now she knew that was not true.

"Neverland is all about pornography, booze and sex with boys," she said - a comment the judge instructed jurors to ignore.

Again, Judge Melville turned to the witness and warned her not to advance her story beyond the question.

Mrs Arvizo's response was to tell him and jurors that she found the situation difficult, because she had been waiting two years to speak.

'Justice, not damages'

Mr Mesereau sought to portray Mrs Arvizo as a "professional plaintiff", seeking to make money out of allegations against the pop star.

He pointed to a previous sexual harassment suit she had filed against department store chain JC Penney, where she had been detained on suspicion of shoplifting.

We will never file a claim against Mr Jackson - I want justice here
Janet Arvizo

Mrs Arvizo and her children won a $152,000 settlement against the chain in the civil suit, where she and her children said guards had sexually assaulted her during her detention.

"We will never file a claim against Mr Jackson - I want justice here," Mrs Arvizo said.

Earlier, she took the court through some grainy video shot in various locations around Los Angeles in February and March of 2003.

The tape was taken from the office of an investigator working for one of Mr Jackson's lawyers.

Much of it appeared to have been filmed through a car windscreen and it showed the Arvizo parents outside their home and their daughter on her way home from school.

Mrs Arvizo said the video was filmed by various associates of Mr Jackson during a time when she alleges her family was receiving death threats and had been held against their will at Neverland.

If convicted, Mr Jackson could face up to 20 years in prison.




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