Friday, May 27, 2005 Print This | Email This     

Judge: Jurors will not see images of Michael Jackson's penis

By Lisa Sweetingham, Court TV

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Court TV) — The judge in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial ruled Thursday against giving jurors a peek at images of the King of Pop's private parts.

"I'm going to deny the request to bring in the evidence of the blemished penis," Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville announced during a hearing Thursday morning outside the presence of jurors.

The evidence included photographs of Jackson's anatomy shot during a search warrant in 1993, when the entertainer was facing allegations that he molested former Neverland sleepover guest Jordie Chandler.

Chandler was 13 years old — the same age as Jackson's current accuser — when he claimed in an affidavit that Jackson sexually molested him.

The distinctive blemish was not described in open court Thursday, but Chandler gave investigators details more than a decade ago about his intimate knowledge of the "splotches" on the singer's buttocks and a lighter one on his penis. He also drew pictures.

Jackson has publicly stated that he suffers from the skin condition vitiligo, a pigmentation disorder that causes white patches of skin to appear on different parts of the body.

Prosecutors hoped to introduce the evidence during their rebuttal case to show that the entertainer was neither shy nor modest with the boys he allegedly molested, including his current accuser — a cancer survivor he is accused of committing lewd acts on in spring of 2003.

"The fact that [Chandler] was able to give a description of a unique feature of his anatomy that could not have been known by him except for a very intimate acquaintance with Mr. Jackson is very good circumstantial evidence of the fact that the relationship between he and at least that child was something more than casual and something more than innocent," prosecutor Ronald Zonen argued.

Chandler's family received more than $20 million in a settlement with the singer in exchange for their silence, and as a result, Jackson was never charged. However, testimony about his alleged prior "bad acts" has been allowed in his current trial.

Judge Melville ruled Thursday that Chandler's drawings of Jackson's genitalia and the corroborating photographs were more prejudicial than probative.

However, the judge did grant a prosecution request to show jurors about 30 minutes of the first taped police interview with Jackson's current accuser.

Admission of the interview is a potentially dramatic development as attorneys reach the home stretch of the trial, because the boy is said to give emotional statements about the lewd acts that his former idol allegedly committed upon him.

Defense attorneys announced that they would recall the accuser and his mother to the stand during their surrebuttal case in light of the judge's ruling.

Jackson, 46, is charged with 10 counts, including sexual molestation, giving the child alcohol, and conspiring to falsely imprison the boy and his family at his sprawling Neverland ranch. He faces up to 20 years of convicted.

Mother's story

Jackson, who maintains his innocence, claims he has been targeted by grifters — a family with a litigious past and a mother who coerces her children into lying and ingratiating themselves with celebrities.

Prosecutors spent a second day of their rebuttal case calling witnesses to rehabilitate the family's credibility, and to rebut the accusation that the family received a $152,000 settlement based on fraudulent claims of assault and battery at the hands of JCPenney security guards.

The defense has charged that photos of the mother's head-to-toe bruises after the scuffle were not from the guards, but from her own abusive ex-husband.

A records supervisor at the West Covina police department testified that the couple was arrested after the altercation on Aug. 27, 1998, and that the mother was released at 9:15 p.m., the father at 12:03 a.m. that same evening.

A Kaiser Hospital representative testified that the mother walked into the emergency room at 1:11 a.m. on Aug. 28 for treatment. The implication was that there was no time for her husband to go home and beat her black-and-blue before she showed up at the hospital.

However, jurors weren't given definitive answers about whether her bruises were fraud or fact.

It's unclear exactly when the photos were taken, and the defense was able to point out during cross-examination that the mother's mug shot lacked facial bruising. Also, a medical questionnaire filled out by the jailer indicated that she refused medical treatment and did not exhibit any symptoms that suggested a need for emergency care.

Further, the emergency room records, according to the witness, noted only that she was discharged at 4:15 a.m. in "good condition," that her X-rays were "normal" and that she was given Motrin for her grievances.

Attorney vs. attorney

Gentility gave way to grandstanding Thursday when Jackson's defense attorney Thomas Mesereau butted heads with the accuser's civil attorney, William Dickerman.

"If you want to get to the truth, Mr. Mesereau, instead of playing games, we can have a reasonable trial where the facts can come out," Dickerman seethed during a heated cross-examination.

The judge calmly reminded the attorney, "You're not an advocate here. You're a witness."

Dickerman was retained by the accuser's family soon after their alleged escape from Neverland.

He testified that he sent a series of letters to Jackson's former attorney Mark Geragos, requesting the family's passports, birth certificates, and the contents of a storage unit containing their personal belongings be returned to them.

When Geragos testified last week for the defense, he said his private investigator put the contents of the family's studio apartment into storage at the mother's request because she was moving in with her boyfriend.

Prosecutors charge that the move was surreptitious, not authorized, and part of a bigger plan by Jackson and his aides to control and isolate the family.

Geragos also denied the authenticity of some letters entered into evidence between him and Dickerman, and called the attorney an untrustworthy source.

Dickerman testified Thursday that Geragos was uncooperative and continually failed to honor simple requests, for instance, sending him a list of the items in storage.

When Mesereau insinuated that Dickerman had bigger plans of a civil suit against Jackson, the attorney denied the suggestion, read passages from his letters out loud to bolster his testimony, and interrupted Mesereau.

"Is the microphone on? Maybe you're not hearing me," he said, tapping the mic twice. "How's the mic? On now?"

Prosecution rebuttal is set to continue Friday. Closing arguments could begin as early as next week.

Full coverage of Michael Jackson case