SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Two mothers of boys who were "special friends" of Michael Jackson said yesterday that they had no qualms about letting their sons sleep in the same bed with the singer because they trusted the pop star as they would a relative.
Joy Robson, the mother of Wade Robson, 22, was the first in a parade of relatives brought by the defense to deny that they ever saw anything inappropriate during visits to Jackson's Neverland ranch in the early 1990s. Joy Robson's daughter, Chantal, and Marie Lizbeth Barnes, mother of another boyhood friend of Jackson, also testified, as did Barnes' daughter, Karlee.
Jackson "has a very pure love for children," Joy Robson testified. "To know him is to love him and to trust him."
Marie Barnes was more effusive, according to a letter she wrote to Jackson that was read in court. "I love my family deeply," she wrote to the singer. "I love you as much as I love them."
The women were called to buttress the testimony of their sons, who told jurors Thursday that they had never been molested by Jackson when they were children and frequent companions.
Joy Robson also said yesterday that she never saw her son shower with Jackson. A former maid at Neverland said during the prosecution's case that she saw Jackson and the boy shower together.
Chantal Robson and Karlee Barnes said they never saw anything improper when they and the boys shared a bed with Jackson, despite reports of child molestation.
"I have heard that was said by other people," Karlee Barnes said at one point. "I think they are liars."
Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss questioned the daughters about sleeping with Jackson and their brothers, asking Chantal Robson whether it was appropriate for a 10-year-old girl to sleep in the same bed as an adult man.
"I think it is appropriate for a 10-year-old girl to sleep in a bed with a friend if she's confident and the parents are OK with it," she replied.
In describing the relationship, Chantal Robson said there were times she would leave Jackson and her brother and go to another bed because she didn't want to interfere with the singer's privacy.
"You really have no idea what happened between Wade and Michael Jackson when they slept alone behind closed doors, do you?" Auchincloss asked.
"Based on what others told me, nothing happened," Chantal Robson replied. "Based on what Wade told me," she said, nothing happened.
Jackson, 46, is charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy in early 2003.
At least seven adults testified that they saw Jackson act inappropriately with five children, including Robson and Barnes, 23, who testified for the defense, denying any molestation.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.