SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A pajama-clad Michael Jackson arrived more than an hour late to his child molestation trial Thursday, but the judge who had threatened to arrest him resumed the case without taking any action against the singer in open court.
The singer’s young accuser returned to the stand for a second day, saying Jackson gave him wine and called it “Jesus juice.”
Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville had issued an arrest warrant when Jackson failed to arrive on time, but told defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. he would hold it for one hour. The judge, obviously angry, had also threatened to revoke his $3 million bail.
Mesereau, who told the judge Jackson was being treated for a severe back problem, paced outside court and talked on his cell phone until the singer arrived, a few minutes past the judge’s deadline.
Jackson walked in gingerly, dressed in a jacket over pajamas and looked distressed.
Attorneys met with the judge in chambers before court resumed and Melville addressed the jurors, telling them not to draw any negative inferences from the developments.
“Mr. Jackson had a medical problem and it was necessary for me to order his appearance,” Melville said.
Hospital spokeswoman Janet O’Neill had said Jackson left Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital – which is about 35 miles from the courthouse – shortly after the judge issued his order, but would not comment on Jackson’s condition. Jackson’s own spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain said outside court that the singer’s back “gave out on him” after he woke up and he was rushed to an emergency room around 5:45 a.m.
“He knows the seriousness of this. He’s not play-acting,” Bain said.
When Jackson was arraigned in January 2004, the judge admonished him for arriving late and requesting a bathroom break. Last month, during the first week of jury selection, Jackson went to a hospital with flu symptoms, delaying the proceedings for a week and prompting the judge to tell jury prospects that “he really did have the flu.” Jackson had been on time or early since then.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy’s family captive to get them to rebut a damaging TV documentary in which Jackson said he allowed children to sleep in his bedroom. Jackson’s defense contends the family has a history of filing false claims to get money.
On Wednesday, Jackson’s young accuser faced the singer for the first time since March 2003, and described viewing sexually explicit images with the singer in his bedroom. The boy, now 15, followed to the stand his 14-year-old brother, who testified he saw Jackson fondle his sibling.
The accuser returned to the stand when the proceedings finally got under way again Thursday.
He described several private meetings with Jackson in Miami on the day the documentary aired, including one in which he did an “audition” for the singer in which he pretended to be a student in trouble and Jackson played his principal.
He also said Jackson gave him wine in a Diet Coke can, saying it would help him relax amid all the media reports about the documentary.
“He told me if I had ever heard of Jesus juice. He told me, ‘Like you know how Jesus drank wine? We call it Jesus juice,”‘ he said.
“I drank a little bit of it and I told him it tasted ugly.
He said he knew I was stressed out from all the media stuff going on and the Jesus juice would relax me.”
The boy said he had previously sipped wine in church.
The boy was not asked about the molestation allegations before court ended Wednesday, but described viewing adult Internet sites with Jackson and others.
The accuser, who was a cancer patient when he met Jackson, talked about attending a Los Angeles comedy camp hosted by club owner Jamie Masada, whom he would later ask to put him in touch with Jackson.