The property manager at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch testified today (May 10) that he was never ordered to hold captive the family of the boy accusing the pop star of child molestation.

The property manager at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch testified today (May 10) that he was never ordered to hold captive the family of the boy accusing the pop star of child molestation.

Joe Marcus, a defense witness, testified that an order instructing guards not to let the boy or his brother leave was placed in the ranch log because the boys often drove vehicles around the property, raising safety concerns. He said he was determined to prevent them from taking the vehicles out onto the open road.

"Did you ever receive any instructions from anyone to hold the [family] against their will?" Jackson attorney Robert Sanger asked. "No," Marcus said.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient in February or March 2003, giving him wine and conspiring to hold the family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which he appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed, though he said it was non-sexual.

Marcus testified yesterday that the family members appeared to be "excited" to be at Neverland and were eager to return to the ranch after going on outings. He said he gave the family rides when they wanted to leave the property.

"Were you there to guard them?" asked Sanger. "No," Marcus said.

Marcus, an 18-year employee, was among several current and former Neverland employees called by the defense to counter former ranch employees who testified against Jackson during the prosecution case.

The property manager said he never saw Jackson do anything inappropriate to children and never saw anything that would have caused him to report an illegal act to authorities.

Jackson left the court hastily after Monday's testimony. His spokesperson, Raymone K. Bain, said he was in pain from a persistent back problem. She said Jackson's spirits remain high because of his defense team's efforts, though the trial in general has made him unhappy.

Asked if he would testify, she said, "He would not be opposed to testifying if his attorney says he should."


AP LogoCopyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print