Jackson's ex-wife says he's a victim of `vultures'

April 29, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Debbie Rowe, former wife of Michael Jackson, testified at his molestation trial yesterday that he was surrounded by "opportunistic vultures" who created problems for him and then tried to profit from them.

Rowe, called by prosecutors to support a conspiracy charge against Jackson, instead depicted him as a victim of a conspiracy by his own employees.

Prosecutors had said Rowe would testify that a videotaped statement in early 2003 supporting Jackson had been heavily scripted to favor him.

Instead, in her second day of testimony, she said yesterday that she had refused to look at the questions in advance of the taping and that she had been eager to give answers largely supportive of him.

She described Jackson as "generous to a fault, good father, great with kids, puts other people ahead of him, brilliant businessman."

She said she had been excited to give the interview, conducted by Jackson's associates, because she believed it meant she would get to see her two children that she had not seen in more than two years.

She did not get the promised visit with the children, but in her testimony she blamed Jackson's business advisers and lawyers for that.

Rowe called three of Jackson's business and public relations aides - Marc Schaffel, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer - "opportunistic vultures." The three are named as unindicted co-conspirators in the 10-count indictment of Jackson, which also charges him with sexually molesting a 13-year-old recovering cancer patient and giving the boy alcohol.

At one point in her appearance, Rowe was asked to describe Jackson. She looked affectionately at her former husband.

"There's two Michaels: There's like my Michael," she said, then halted and began to cry. "And the Michael that everyone else sees. Michael the entertainer."

Jackson at that moment dabbed his eyes with a tissue.

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