Jackson Accuser's Mother Pleads The Fifth

The mother of Michael Jackson's accuser took the stand outside the jury's presence today (April 13) and immediately invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify about welfare payments she has rece

The mother of Michael Jackson's accuser took the stand outside the jury's presence today (April 13) and immediately invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify about welfare payments she has received. Judge Rodney S. Melville said the mother could still testify and he would instruct jurors that she had invoked her right for protection from self-incrimination.

The ruling came after the woman took the stand outside the presence of the jury and said she would refuse to discuss "everything to do with the welfare application."

Defense attorneys have raised questions about the woman's credibility, accusing her of bilking celebrities and committing welfare fraud. District Attorney Thomas Sneddon said in opening statements that the woman would admit she took welfare payments to which she was not entitled.

The judge said he would tell jurors that attorneys could not have anticipated today's development when they delivered opening statements. The statement was to add that jurors should not draw any negative conclusions about either side.

Today's hearing ended weeks of speculation about when prosecutors would call the woman to testify, or whether she would testify at all. Defense attorneys have tried to turn the focus of the case from Jackson to the boy's mother, alleging that she orchestrated a scheme to have her son falsely accuse Jackson of molestation in order to get money from the singer.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger argued after the woman left the stand that it would be unfair to Jackson to allow the witness to refuse to testify on some issues, and not others. "You can't allow a witness to pick and choose what he or she is going to be subject to on cross-examination," he said.

The judge, however, said the defense could raise questions about the mother's credibility through other testimony. "You wouldn't be precluded from proving those items through other witnesses," Melville said.

The alleged welfare fraud occurred in Los Angeles County, where the mother lived. Testifying that she took payments she wasn't entitled to could open the possibility of a criminal investigation.

Today's hearing came as the prosecution shifted from witnesses who alleged past improprieties by Jackson back to the current allegations that the singer molested a 13-year-old boy in February or March 2003, gave him alcohol, and conspired to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary.

Earlier in the day, the stepfather of Jackson's accuser denied under cross-examination that he once told police he did not believe the boy's mother was in danger as she left the entertainer's Neverland Ranch. The stepfather testified that the boy's mother seemed distressed when she called from Neverland several times in February 2003, when the two were dating.

He said that after one call, he told police the woman would be leaving Neverland and wanted to know if officers could intercept the car that was bringing her back to the Los Angeles area. Police told him they couldn't do that, he said.

Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. noted that a police report said he told an officer he did not believe the mother was in any danger. "I am denying saying that," the stepfather testified.


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