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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Jackson defence proves its worth
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has been cleared of all charges
Michael Jackson's defence team called 50 witnesses to pour doubt on the allegations made by accuser Gavin Arvizo and his family.

Many of those were called to damage the reputations of the prosecution witnesses.

Gavin's mother Janet was portrayed as a liar and a scam artist willing to exploit her son's cancer for her own ends, orchestrating a plan to extort money from Mr Jackson.

Former Neverland ranch staff who testified against the singer were painted as bitter ex-employees who had failed in an attempt to sue him.

To allegations that Mr Jackson plied Gavin with alcohol and showed him pornography, the defence said the boy helped himself to it and looked at porn with his brother.

His team also pointed out no DNA evidence relating to Gavin was found in Mr Jackson's bed.

'Daddy Michael'

The defence, led by celebrity lawyer Thomas Mesereau, challenged Gavin in court, saying he wanted revenge because he felt abandoned by the star, who he called "Daddy Michael".

Thomas Mesereau

Gavin's teacher Dean Alpert said Gavin had told him twice he had not been abused.

Social worker Irene Peters also said Gavin had denied anything untoward happened.

"He said, 'Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me - he didn't'," said Ms Peters.

During his four days of testimony, Gavin admitted he was disruptive, rarely did his homework and argued with teachers.

'Like Disneyland'

In response to questioning about conspiracy to kidnap charges, he was asked why he had never tried to escape from Mr Jackson's home.

"I liked being at Neverland - it was like Disneyland," he told the court.

Judge Rodney Melville allowed previous abuse allegations against Jackson to be heard in court, with some former employees called as witnesses.

Former security guard Ralph Chacon and maid Adrian McManus both testified that they saw Jackson touching young boys.

Janet Arvizo at the trial of Michael Jackson
Janet Arvizo's testimony lacked conviction
But the defence got Mr Chacon to admit he sold his story to the media to fund an unsuccessful lawsuit against Mr Jackson for wrongful dismissal.

Ms McManus said she saw Mr Jackson molest actor Macaulay Culkin when he visited Neverland as a child.

But Mr Culkin strongly denied those claims when he took the stand, stating he and Mr Jackson were friends and the singer never touched him inappropriately.

Two other men who were regular visitors to Neverland as children also hit back at claims that employees had seen them being molested.

Dancer Wade Robson answered "absolutely no" when asked if he had been abused.

And Brett Barnes said he was "mad" that witnesses had testified they saw him being touched inappropriately.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon

"It's not true and they put my name through the dirt," he said. "I'm really not happy about it."

'Paranoid' testimony

Janet Arvizo spent five days on the stand - and the defence tactic to wear her down proved inspired.

She came across as "paranoid" and "rambling", BBC correspondent Daniela Relph said.

Mr Mesereau called Mrs Arvizo a "professional plaintiff", highlighting her $150,000 (82,500) lawsuit against a department store, in which she claimed she was sexually assaulted by a security guard when she was held for shoplifting.

The defence also tried to show how Mrs Arvizo had been using Gavin's cancer to gain money.

They were a family of "con artists, actors and liars", Mr Mesereau concluded in his closing statement.

Mrs Arvizo admitted opening a bank account for people to deposit money for her son - but acknowledged the family was paying nothing for his medical treatment as it was covered by health insurance.

No kidnap plot

Mr Jackson's official website marked his acquittal on Monday
One of the hardest charges for the prosecution to prove was a plot to kidnap the family and take them to Brazil.

The defence called a spa worker and an orthodontist to testify that Mrs Arvizo and the children visited them while they were allegedly being held captive.

Neverland assistant Kathryn Bernard said Mrs Arvizo kept praising the singer while she was on a shopping trip with her.

Casting assistant Azja Prior, girlfriend of comic actor Chris Tucker, also said Mrs Arvizo had done nothing but praise Jackson.

She added two of Jackson's associates had tried to keep the family away from the singer in early March 2003, without his knowledge.

The defence also called upon Christian Robinson, who filmed the Arvizos praising Mr Jackson for Martin Bashir's documentary.

"She [Janet Arvizo] was adamant about wanting to do the interview," Mr Robinson said.


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