Originally created 11/26/03

Lawyer: Michael Jackson accuser never mentioned alleged abuse



LOS ANGELES -- An attorney who represented the mother of Michael Jackson's accuser in her divorce from the child's father said the family never indicated to him that Jackson had sexually abused the boy.

Attorney Michael Manning said Monday he remembers the mother saying positive things about Jackson as recently as April or May.

"'He was really good to us' - that's what she said at the time," Manning said.

Asked if she had said anything else about Jackson, Manning added, "Nothing bad. ... If it turned sour, I don't know how."

The mother filed for divorce in 2001 and has custody of the children. Manning said she and the alleged victim rarely mentioned their visits to Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County.

"They didn't brag about it," he said. "They weren't star crazy."

Manning said he still represents the mother in the divorce, although he hasn't spoken to her since May or June.

The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. The child's mother has an unlisted number and could not be located for comment Monday.

Stuart Backerman, the entertainer's spokesman, declined to comment Monday night.

Representatives of the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office and the sheriff's department declined to comment Monday on the case. Both have said they will not comment until charges are filed.

Jackson also launched a Web site Monday designed to tell his side of the story in the child-molestation case, asserting the allegations are "predicated on a big lie."

Jackson put the site together so he could communicate directly with the news media and fans, Backerman said. Jackson said in his statement that the site would serve as a source for "official communications on my case."

The site also contains links to three earlier statements Backerman made last week on Jackson's behalf. The statements were made after authorities raided the singer's Neverland Ranch and before and after the entertainer surrendered on a warrant alleging lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

A public relations executive who is not involved in the Jackson case said the Web site allows the entertainer to bypass the news media to deliver his side of the story to the public.

"He's able to communicate with those people interested without the message being filtered by the media," said Doug Dowie, senior vice president of Fleishman-Hillard. "If he wants to put out an 800-word press release, you can read all 800 words."

Jackson was released on $3 million bail after his surrender Thursday and immediately returned to Las Vegas, where he had been filming a video. Authorities have said they expect to file formal charges sometime after Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, school officials at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood covered up Jackson's name on an auditorium wall following his recent arrest. The singer attended the school for several months when he was 11.

After parents complained about Jackson's name being used, officials decided to paint over it and cover it with a plywood box. Stephanie Brady, a school district spokeswoman, said the singer's name could be restored if Jackson is exonerated.

On the Net:

Jackson's Official Press Room: http://www.mjnews.us