Wednesday, 18 May, 2005
A social worker who spoke to Michael Jackson's accuser and his
family in early 2003 said he told her the star had never abused
Irene Peters, who works for the Los Angeles child welfare department,
says Gavin Arvizo had even denied he had ever slept in the same
bed as the star.
Mr Jackson denies abusing the child and holding his family
against their will.
The first members of the singer's family have begun to give
evidence at his trial in Santa Maria in California.
His 16-year-old cousin, Simone Jackson, described her visits
to Neverland Ranch and her contact with the Arvizo family, who
are accusing Mr Jackson of abuse.
'Like a father'
Ms Peters said she met Gavin's mother Janet and her children
on 20 February 2003, a few weeks after the US airing of a documentary
in which Mr Jackson had spoken of his relationship with the
He said, 'Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me.
He never touched me'
In it, Mr Jackson and the then 13-year-old were seen holding
hands, and the singer said he would sometimes sleep in the same
bed as his child visitors.
Mr Jackson now stands accused of molesting the boy between
20 February and 12 March of that year, as well as of plying
him with alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to
keep them away from reporters.
"I asked him (Gavin) if he had ever been sexually abused
by Michael Jackson and he became upset," Ms Peters said.
"He said, 'Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused
me. He never touched me."
Ms Peters said the boy's mother had told her and other social
workers that Mr Jackson was like "a father to her children".
However, Ms Arvizo had mentioned the fact that Mr Jackson wanted
to send her to Brazil and that she did not want to go there,
Ms Peters said.
On Monday, several witnesses told the jury that Ms Arvizo did
not try to call for help while she and her family were allegedly
being held captive at the star's ranch.
Also on Tuesday, the star's cousin told jurors that she had
once watched as Gavin and his 11-year-old brother took two bottles
of wine from the kitchen at Neverland.
Ms Jackson said she told them not to take the alcohol, but
they just ignored her.
Earlier in the trial, the prosecution had alleged that Mr Jackson
often gave wine to children visiting him at his home.
But the defence will now argue that the evidence of this witness
shows that the Arvizo children often took alcohol without permission,
and were wilful and badly behaved.
Source: BBC News