In a startling setback to the prosecution, Michael Jackson's ex-wife took the stand at his child molestation trial today (April 27) and said through tears how she was never scripted or rehearsed to sa
In a startling setback to the prosecution, Michael Jackson's ex-wife took the stand at his child molestation trial today (April 27) and said through tears how she was never scripted or rehearsed to say positive things about him to rebut a damaging TV documentary.
Prosecutors called Deborah Rowe to bolster their argument that Jackson conspired to hold the accuser's family captive to get them to rebut the documentary, in which the singer said he lets children sleep in his bed. The accuser's mother claims a video she recorded praising Jackson was made under duress and that every word was from a script.
The prosecution has said Rowe would offer similar testimony -- that she was also pressured to praise Jackson in a video -- but her testimony today did not reflect that.
"I didn't want anyone to be able to come back to me and say my interview was rehearsed," Rowe said. "As Mr. Jackson knows, no one can tell me what to say."
She reiterated that she had been offered a list of questions by her interviewers but she declined to look at them before she talked. "It was a cold interview and I wanted to keep it that way," she said. Rowe glanced at Jackson as she spoke. The pop star, dressed in a maroon suit, showed no obvious reaction to her testimony.
Rowe was a nurse for one of Jackson's plastic surgeons when they married in 1996, and they had two children together: 8-year-old Prince Michael and a 7-year-old daughter named Paris. The couple filed for divorce three years later, and Rowe is currently in a family court dispute over visitation with their children. Jackson has a third child, Prince Michael II, whose mother has remained anonymous.
Rowe appeared nervous at first as she told jurors "we've been friends and we were married." Asked about her domestic arrangements, she said, "We never shared a home."
Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen asked her what she expected after she gave the video interview. A teary-eyed Rowe said, "To be reunited with the children and be reacquainted with their dad."
Jackson is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in February or March 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 2003, Rowe said she spoke with Jackson over the phone and he said "there was a video coming out and it was full of lies and would I help. I said, as always, yes." Rowe said her conversation with Jackson lasted perhaps 2 1/2 minutes and there was no discussion of what he wanted her to do other than to work with his associates.
She said all she could recall him saying was, "There was a bad video coming out." "Did he tell you with any specificity what he wanted you to do?" asked Zonen. "No," she said.
Asked why she would help Jackson, she said, "I promised him I would always be there for Michael and the children." She did not give any details of her private life with Jackson and made it clear that she did not want to discuss it.
"My personal life was my personal life and no one's business," she said when asked by the prosecution if she had talked completely truthfully on the video.
She said the videotaped interview lasted nine hours and that she recently saw a two-hour version of it which was shown to her by prosecutors. She said she found it "very boring and dull" and didn't really pay attention while she was watching it.
Rowe said she did not see the "Living With Michael Jackson" documentary before her interview was taped. "All I knew is whatever what is being put out about Michael was hurtful to Michael and the children," she said.
In his opening statement, District Attorney Tom Sneddon told the jury they would hear Rowe tell a story similar to that of the accuser's mother.
"Debbie Rowe will tell you her interview also was completely scripted," Sneddon said on Feb. 28. "They scripted that interview just like they scripted the [accuser's mother's] interview."
Rowe was expected back on the stand tomorrow for more questioning.
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