Much like Oscar Wilde's character, Dorian Gray, Michael Jackson is being portrayed by the defence and prosecution in diametrically opposing forms; either he is a good looking kindly man who loves children and animals, or else he is an evil monster luring children into his dark and tortured world.
Thus begins Michael Jackson's trial, the jury will have to decide which is the real Michael Jackson.
Defence attorney Thomas Mesereau opened by saying:
"The prosecution presented a picture of Neverland as a haven for crime. It is not. ... He created Neverland for particular reasons. He wanted a place for children to come and be free and spontaneous and enjoy themselves."
District Attorney Tom Sneddon suggested that Neverland designed to entrap children, quote:
"The private world of Michael Jackson will show that instead of reading them Peter Pan, he's showing them sexually explicit magazines. ... Instead of cookies and milk, you can substitute wine, vodka and bourbon..".
Sneddon went on to say that Jackson showed the boy sexually explicit material, groping him, and of a conspiracy involving Jackson's associates and a threat to kill the boy's mother.
"(The accuser) will describe to you his sexual experiences with Michael Jackson. He will do it here in open court and he will do it with the whole world watching..".
Jackson is accused of molesting the boy, who was 13 at the time and cancer patient, at his Neverland ranch in early 2003. It is alleged that he gave him alcohol and conspired to hold him and his family captive.
Mesereau rebutted, saying that the mother of the accuser fraudulently claimed to many people that she was destitute and that her son needed money for chemotherapy. In truth, he said, the boy's father was a member of a union that covered his medical bills.
Mesereau alleged that the mother went to a number of celebrities looking for money including; comedian Jay Leno, comedian George Lopez and Los Angeles TV weatherman Fritz Coleman, who staged a fund-raiser for the child at a comedy club.
"At the fund-raiser, there was (the boy) in the lobby of the Laugh Factory with his hand out, prodded by (his mother)..".
"The most vulnerable celebrity became the mark, Michael Jackson,".
Mesereau alleged a history of fraud by the mother against others including; J.C. Penney, which paid her $152K to settle claims arising from a brush with security guards when her son left a store with items that had not been paid for. The mother claimed they were battered, held against their will and that she was groped.
Mesereau said that an employee of a law firm that represented the mother in the J.C. Penney suit has come forward, and will testify that the mother admitted lying. The employee didn't come forward before because the mother said her husband had a cousin in the Mexican Mafia and she feared for her life, Mesereau told the jury.
At the beginning of the trial Judge Rodney Melville read the indictment, naming for the first time the five Jackson employees and associates described as unindicted co-conspirators: Frank Tyson, also known as Frank Cascio, and Ronald Konitzer, Dieter Wiesner, Marc Schaffel and Vincent Amen.
Sneddon brought up the February 2003 TV documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," in which Jackson was holding hands with the boy and saying he allows children to sleep in his bed.
"Jackson's world was rocked........it was a train wreck."
Sneddon alleged that Jackson intended to use the boy as part of a comeback attempt, by discussing in the documentary how the singer helped him through his cancer; and that Jackson coached the boy about what to say.
The prosecutor described the alleged molesation of the boy by Jackson; Jackson told the boy that masturbation was normal, then reached into the boy's underpants and masturbated the boy and himself. This happened twice, with Jackson trying to move the boy's arm toward his own genitals the second time but the boy resisted.
It was alleged that Tyson told the family they were in danger and "this is not the time to be out there alone. This is not the time to turn your back on Michael."
The indictment said Tyson told them that "staying even one night alone is not safe."
The indictment stated that between February and March 2003, Tyson threatened the accuser, saying:
"Michael could make the family disappear...I could have your mother killed."
Sneddon alleged that when the boy and his family first visited Neverland, Jackson told the boy to ask his mother if he could sleep in Jackson's bedroom. He said Jackson then showed sexually explicit Web sites to the boy and his own son, Prince Michael, on that visit.
Searches of Neverland turned up sexually explicit DVDs and magazines, including 1960's nudist periodicals with pictures of naked children, and correspondence from the accuser addressed to "Michael" or "Michael Daddy,".
Some magazines had the fingerprints of Jackson, others had the prints of the boy and his brother, and one had prints from both Jackson and the accuser, he said.
And so it begins, the jury must decide which is the real Michael Jackson.