A former cook for Michael Jackson testified yesterday (April 8) that he saw the singer fondling child actor Macaulay Culkin as the two played a video game at his Neverland Valley Ranch in 1991. Philli

A former cook for Michael Jackson testified yesterday (April 8) that he saw the singer fondling child actor Macaulay Culkin as the two played a "Thriller" video game at his Neverland Valley Ranch in 1991.

Phillip LeMarque told jurors in the pop star's trial on child molestation charges that he found Jackson with one hand down the front of Culkin's pants at about 3 a.m. while delivering a late-night snack of french fries in the arcade room of the estate.

"I was shocked, and I almost dropped the french fries," the former employee recalled, testifying in a thick French accent. LeMarque, who was in charge of serving and preparing food for the singer, said the incident occurred 14 years ago during one of the former "Home Alone" star's many overnight stays at Jackson's central California estate.

Representatives for Culkin, who has denied publicly that Jackson ever acted inappropriately toward him, say he will not testify.

Under cross-examination from defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, LeMarque acknowledged that his employment with Jackson ended with him suing the star for overtime owed him and that the case was settled out of court.

During a break in testimony, Judge Rodney Melville barred the defense from raising the issue of LeMarque's later work as the operator of a pornographic Web site.

LeMarque was the latest of several witnesses called by prosecutors to establish what they contend is Jackson's pattern of sexual misconduct with young boys over the years.

Jackson is charged in the current case with molesting a 13-year-old boy at Neverland, plying the youth with alcohol in order to abuse him and conspiring to commit false imprisonment, child abduction and extortion.

The performer, who has pleaded innocent, faces more than two decades in prison if convicted on all 10 counts of a Santa Barbara County grand jury indictment.

LeMarque recalled that on the morning of his encounter with Jackson and Culkin in the arcade, he had been alerted by Jackson's security personnel that "Silver Fox" -- their code name for the singer -- wanted french fries. When he opened the door to the arcade with food, LeMarque said he was shocked at what he saw.

"Michael was playing with Macaulay Culkin at one of the games, which was 'Thriller,' and he was holding the kid because the kid was small and couldn't hold the controls. [Jackson's] left hand was inside the pants of the kid," LeMarque said.

From his vantage point at the door to the arcade, LeMarque testified, he could see that Jackson's hand appeared to be grasping Culkin's crotch from inside the front of his shorts.

LeMarque said he quickly backed out of the door and reentered making more noise and then dropped off the food, telling Jackson his fries were ready. He quickly left.

The witness said he did not report the incident at the time, doubting that anyone would have believed his account because "Michael was at the top of everything."


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