Moms Who Let Their Kids Sleep in MJ's Bed

Dispatches From the Michael Jackson Trial

Moms Who Let Their Kids Sleep in MJ's Bed

Dispatches From the Michael Jackson Trial

Moms Who Let Their Kids Sleep in MJ's Bed
Notes from different corners of the world.
May 6 2005 2:15 PM

Dispatches From the Michael Jackson Trial

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The Jackson team: blinding the jury with bizarro facts and colorful wardrobe accents. Click image to expand.
The Jackson team: blinding the jury with bizarro facts and colorful wardrobe accents.

8:29 a.m.: I have to apologize. I can't adequately describe Michael's armband today. It's chili-pepper red—that much I know. But the design is indecipherable. It might be musical notes, or it might be a squiggly tribal motif. Just can't say for sure.

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

I can tell you this with certainty, though: Jermaine is once again in the house, and once again his blazer is mad freaky. It's got both a Nehru collar and flared lapels, overlapping each other. It's like he took two separate jackets and Frankensteined them together.

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8:32 a.m.: The defense calls Joy Robson. Joy is the mother of Wade Robson, who testified yesterday that he slept many times in Michael's bed but that nothing inappropriate happened. (By the way, I was not aware when I wrote about him yesterday that Wade is a mini-celeb in his own right. He may even have broken up Britney and JT! Cry me a river, Wade.)

Joy says it was fine with her when her kids asked to sleep in Michael Jackson's bed. She says she's certain nothing icky happened. She says she thinks of Michael as family. When she's asked to describe Neverland, she says, "I would have once said it's the happiest place on earth. ... I particularly liked the chimpanzees. I would play with the chimps."

8:40 a.m.: Lead prosecutor Tom Sneddon begins his cross-examination. I continue to be underwhelmed by Sneddon. Why doesn't Prosecutor Zonen just handle every witness? Zonen's by far the smoothest and smartest of the prosecution attorneys, and his cross of Wade Robson yesterday was flat-out surgical. He stood toe-to-toe with The Mez, waged an epic battle, and may even have come out on top: Another reporter, who knows much more about law than I do, tells me that Mesereau goofed by asking a question that called for Wade to assess MJ's character. This is what opened the door for Zonen to haul out all the kiddie-porn books.

Sneddon does an adequate job with Robson's mom. He elicits the fact that MJ loaned her lots of money, bought her a car, and helped with her immigration from Australia. The suggestion is that there was some sort of quid pro quo. Or, more bluntly: She was pimping out her son.

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Joy admits that Michael would sometimes call late at night and ask her to bring Wade to Neverland. Once, they arrived at Neverland at 1:30 a.m., whereupon Wade went directly to bed with Michael. I'm waiting for Sneddon to employ the phrase "booty call." Disappointingly, he does not.

10:09 a.m.: Mesereau is on redirect with Joy. He asks her about the boy who accused Michael of molestation in 1993 and received a multimillion-dollar settlement. Joy says she saw this boy and his mom around Neverland at the same time little Wade was getting chummy with Michael. Joy says the other boy's mom treated Neverland like it was her own, ordering the servants around. "I thought she wanted to be mistress of Neverland, and that she was trying to use Michael. I thought she was a golddigger."

10:30 a.m.: Sneddon re-crosses and asks Joy if she was jealous of this woman. He suggests she was bitter that the other mom's son was staying in MJ's bedroom while Wade had fallen out of favor.

The prosecution paints a disturbing picture, in which moms jockey for status at Neverland by offering up their little boys. Meanwhile, Michael is fickle with his attentions, moving on to a new special friend every year or so. There was Wade, Brett Barnes, the '93 kid, Macaulay Culkin ... one after another. As a local writer suggests to me, "Michael's like the Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed and Confusedhe gets older, they stay the same age."

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10:38 a.m.: The defense calls Chantal Robson, who is Wade's older sister. Like Wade, she's smart, attractive, and seems like a nice, normal person. She says that she slept with Michael once or twice, and that nothing happened. She's absolutely certain nothing happened with Wade. She considers Michael her friend, and in fact she's staying with him at Neverland while she's here in town.

11:16 a.m.: The defense calls Lisbeth Barnes, the mother of Brett Barnes. She says she let little Brett go on tour with MJ all over the world. She let Brett sleep in Michael's bed the entire time. Mesereau asks her why she let Michael sleep with her son. "Why not? You just feel when you trust in someone and when you don't, and I had total trust in him."

She says she discussed with her husband whether it was appropriate for Brett to sleep with Michael—but their only concern was whether Brett would be imposing on Michael's privacy.

12:32 p.m.: The defense calls Karlee Barns, who is Brett's older sister. She's the smiliest, bounciest witness yet—a cute young lady with darling dimples and a twinkle in her eye. When asked to describe Neverland (she, too, has been staying at the ranch while she's here in town), she sighs as she says, "Every time I go back it feels like I'm going home." This elicits a group "awwwww" from the fans at the back of the courtroom.

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Karlee tells the same story as the other defense witnesses (but with more smiles): Michael is her good friend. She considers Michael family and thinks he's a wonderful person. She estimates that her prepubescent brother slept in Michael's bed more than 300 times. She finds nothing odd about this and is certain that nothing inappropriate ever happened.

12:57 p.m.: Karlee steps down, and the jury is dismissed early on a Friday afternoon.

Once again, my time here has come to an end. I'm more confused than ever. It appears the defense team's strategy is to embrace the fact that Michael's a dagnasty freak. They're almost bragging that he sleeps with children—calling a parade of witnesses who (if only inadvertently) are confirming that he's obsessed with little boys and has a propensity to bring them into his bed.

To find Michael Jackson not guilty, you have to decide that he's developmentally stunted. That he basically is a 10-year-old. Sure, he likes having sleepovers. That's what friends do! And of course there's nothing dirty going on! Yuck, that would be gross!

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You know what? I can see how the jury might find this plausible. Michael volunteered, in that Martin Bashir documentary, the fact that he sleeps with kids. He seemed totally earnest when he said there was nothing sexual about it. And now we see the kids themselves, swearing up and down that nothing happened.

The Robsons in particular are extremely strong witnesses. They come off as honest, reasonable people. (If totally blind to the notion that a normal middle-aged man would not sleep with small boys.) Of the three kids who've said they were molested, two won millions of dollars stemming from their accusations. The third is from a family that's notorious for grifting off celebrities.

Sure, the jury might decide, Michael's obsessed with young boys. Only because he's obsessed with resurrecting his own stolen childhood. The love is 100 percent pure.

I'm not saying I believe this view. I'm not saying I disbelieve it. I'm saying Tom Mesereau's a twisted genius for trying to pull it off.

I have no idea how the jury will respond, and I'm dying to see what happens. Sadly, at least for now, I'll be watching events from afar. Toodles, Santa Maria. Ciao, Mez. Later, King of Pop.

Keep it surreal.