SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Two Los Angeles County social workers who interviewed the boy who said he was molested by Michael Jackson testified yesterday that the child insisted in an early interview that he was never touched inappropriately by the pop star.
Irene Peters, a social worker in the sensitive case unit of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, took the stand in the Jackson molestation trial and described a Feb. 20, 2003, interview she conducted with the accuser and his family.
"I asked him if he had ever been inappropriately touched or touched sexually, and he grew upset," Peters said of her conversation with the accuser, then a 13-year-old. " `Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me. He's never touched me,'" she said he replied.
As cross-examination began, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon questioned the social worker's qualifications. Peters, who has been at the department for about 30 years, said she is not an expert in sexual abuse.
"Did you learn that it is unlikely that a teenage boy is going to tell another adult female that he has been molested by an adult in the presence of his mother?"
Peters agreed that such an admission was unlikely.
Peters' fellow social worker Karen Walker gave a similar account. Then a Jackson cousin, Simone Jackson, testified that she saw the accuser and his brother take bottles of wine.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy at the star's Neverland ranch and of giving him alcohol to aid in the molestation. Jackson is also charged with conspiring with aides to make the family participate in the rebuttal video that began shooting Feb. 19.
The social worker said she became involved around Feb. 14, 2003, after her department received a complaint from the principal of the accuser's school who was worried about the boy's absence after a British documentary aired in the United States on Feb. 6. That video showed Jackson, who said he slept innocently with boys, holding hands with his accuser.
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