Witness continues to spar with Jacko attorney. Accuser's mom says the singer's aides threatened to spirit her kids away in a balloon and harassed her family after she left Neverland

By Gary Susman
April 19, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

During her fourth day on the stand, the mother of Michael Jackson’s accuser continued to spar with the singer’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, as he cross-examined her in an effort to undermine her account of a conspiracy by the pop star and his aides to imprison and threaten her family in order to secure their participation in a video rebutting the Martin Bashir documentary. Monday also saw the prosecution try to bolster the woman’s credibility by showing photos to the jury that appeared to back her claim of abuse in a 1998 case (well before the family met Jackson) that netted her a $150,000 settlement.

In that case, the woman said she and her family had been roughed up by guards at a J.C. Penney store who had accused them of shoplifting. Mesereau, who has tried to paint the woman as a practiced con artist and grafter who was accustomed to exploiting her family to gain sympathy and money, got her to admit on Friday that she had lied under oath twice during the J.C. Penney lawsuit. The Associated Press reports that on Monday, however, prosecutors presented photos that appeared to corroborate her claims of abuse, photos that depicted her with bruises and showed her then-8-year-old son (Jackson’s future accuser) with his arm in a sling.

The woman also acknowledged telling police at one point that she feared Jackson’s aides would spirit away her children in a hot air balloon. She claimed, however, that that was just one of the ”various ways of making my children disappear” the aides had threatened her with. According to Reuters, she said that after the family finally left Neverland, the aides continued to harass them, leaving notes on her doorstep and throwing rocks at her house.

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to charges that he molested the boy, plied him with alcohol, and conspired to hold the family hostage. He has repeatedly said that he would never harm a child. But the mother testified that ”he really didn’t care about children. He just cared about what he was doing with the children. He’s managed to fool the world and I was just one woman inside of that. What he puts out to the world is not who he really is. Now because of this criminal case, people know who he really is.” Mesereau objected to that remark, but Judge Rodney Melville overruled him and declined to strike it from the record.