The mother of two of Michael Jackson's children took the stand in his molestation trial again today (April 28) and depicted the pop star as a victim of a cabal of "opportunistic vultures" in his inner
The mother of two of Michael Jackson's children took the stand in his molestation trial again today (April 28) and depicted the pop star as a victim of a cabal of "opportunistic vultures" in his inner circle who sought to make millions from his troubles and hurt him.
Deborah Rowe, completing testimony that turned the tables on the prosecutors who called her, said a group of men now named as unindicted co-conspirators with Jackson were actually conspiring against her ex-husband.
She said they recruited her to make a video praising Jackson, then sold it for millions and kept the money. She said the organizer of the video, Marc Schaffel, bragged to her about how much money he was making off Jackson. "He was out to hurt Michael and in addition would hurt my children," Rowe said.
Rowe, who is in a family court fight with Jackson over visitation with her son, Prince Michael, 8, and daughter, Paris, 7, only spoke well of Jackson and reserved expressions of ill will for others around him.
Asked what she thought of Schaffel and two other unindicted alleged co-conspirators, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, Rowe said, "I think they're opportunistic vultures."
Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2003, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the accuser's family captive to get them to rebut the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary in which the boy appeared and Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.
Rowe's second day of testimony came after Jackson's lawyers tried to abort her appearance with a motion to strike everything she said yesterday -- a move they dropped after today's questioning elicited more positive testimony about Jackson.
Their reason for the motion was not made public immediately but appeared to relate to the fact that she was offered by the prosecution as a witness on one specific fact -- a claim that the co-conspirators scripted her videotaped interview just as they allegedly scripted one for the mother of Jackson's accuser to rebut the documentary.
As late as Monday, Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen told the court Rowe would say she was scripted.
But when she took the stand yesterday she said exactly the opposite and she continued to maintain today that there was no script. The person who interviewed her on camera had a list of 105 questions in front of him but she said she never looked at them because she wanted to be spontaneous.
Asked by Zonen if she knew what she was supposed to say on camera about Jackson, she used such terms as "a wonderful person," "a great father," and "generous and caring." Asked how she felt about doing the video, she said, "I was excited to do it. I would get to see the children and could renew a relationship with Mr. Jackson."
Asked why she was interested in that, she said, "They're my family." At the end of his direct examination, Zonen asked, "What was your motivation for participating in this interview?" "To see my children," she said.
But under cross-examination by Mesereau she said she did not blame Jackson for keeping her away from the youngsters but felt that his advisers and lawyers had interceded. Asked how she feels about Jackson now, she said, "I've always considered him my friend."
"And you still do?" asked Mesereau. Rowe said she did, adding, "If he'd talk to me." At that point she blamed all their problems on lawyers and asked Mesereau whether he had ever met the man representing Jackson in the family court battle. "You don't want to," she added.
She reserved her most vitriolic statements for Schaffel, who she said bragged to her that he was being paid for the video and that he had many plans to make money off Jackson. "He just bragged about how he had taken advantage of an opportunity," she said. "He said he was going to make sure Michael's career was saved."
At one point she used an expletive to describe Schaffel, then turned to the judge and apologized. Rowe said she considered Schaffel, Konitzer and Wiesner to be liars.
She said Schaffel once set her up by inviting her to lunch at a Beverly Hills restaurant and informing tabloid photographers she would be there in order to have her photographed with him and Wiesner.
She said the incident happened the same day as a major meeting of Jackson power brokers at the Beverly Hills Hotel, a meeting to which Schaffel was not invited. She said it was his way of getting even.
Mesereau asked her to describe Jackson in her own words as she had described him in the video. She caught her breath and said: "Generous to a fault, good father, great with kids, puts other people ahead of him. Brilliant businessman."
She became tearful when she described her feelings about Jackson. "There's different Michaels. There's like my Michael and the Michael that everyone else sees," she said. Jackson dabbed at his eyes as she spoke.
"That would be Michael the entertainer?" Mesereau asked. "Michael the entertainer, yeah," Rowe said. Rowe looked across the courtroom several times at Jackson and once tried to engage him in conversation.
Asked when she had gone on tour with Jackson, she looked to the defendant and asked, "What was the tour after 'Bad?' Was it the 'HIStory' tour or 'Dangerous?' Oh, it was 'Dangerous.'"
Before Rowe left the stand the prosecutor asked if she believed Jackson was "amenable" to her seeing their children. When the defense objected, Zonen said the question was for the purpose of impeachment. "I'm hoping in my heart that he is," Rowe answered, adding "I haven't spoken to him. I don't know."
Rowe and Jackson were married in 1996 and divorced after three years. Jackson has a third child, Prince Michael II, whose mother has remained anonymous.
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