Jackson a "Playboy" Man

D.A. puts Michael Jackson's porn-mag collection on display; judge rules computer files off-limits

By Joal Ryan Mar 24, 2005 1:45 AMTags

It was the most revealing day yet of the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial.

Jurors saw explicit pictorials Wednesday from everything from Barely Legal to Over 50 as prosecutors shared more of their X-rated haul from the 2003 raid on Jackson's bedroom at Neverland Ranch.

The peep show was relentless, and Jackson's seventysomething mother Katherine took to covering her eyes, Court TV said.

Other titles screened for jurors and courtroom observers: Plumpers, Juggs and the troika of Barely Legal, Just Legal and Finally Legal. Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler were there, too.

So many bodies--clothed, unclothed, barely clothed--were shown that famous ones seemed bound to turn up, and they did.

Pictures of Macaulay Culkin, a longtime Jackson friend, Marilyn Monroe and Bo Derek were shown. The Monroe and Derek shots were nudes; the Culkin was a straight-ahead snapshot.

If the prosecution had its way, it would have trotted out even more of Jackson's reputed stash.

The singer's lawyers scored a victory when Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville ruled that prosecutors could not show jurors pictures found on four computer hard drives seized at Neverland.

With the ruling, jurors were denied the chance to sample the offerings of Websites such as VarsityTeens.com, TeenSteam.com and Slut1.com.

One hard drive alone contained 1,700 photos of "adult erotic material," Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss said.

"We wouldn't seek to introduce [all] 1,700," Auchincloss told Judge Melville. "It would have taken us several days to print it."

The larger point, Auchincloss said, was to prove that Jackson knows how to use a computer and download porn. The singer's accuser and the boy's younger brother testified they trolled X-rated sites with Jackson during a Neverland overnighter.

But Melville pointed out that the boys never said Jackson was the one doing the surfing--they said a Jackson aide accessed the sites.

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Defense attorney Robert M. Sanger successfully argued that there was no way of proving who downloaded the material or whether the downloads were done intentionally.

"It could be from surfing the Web," Sanger said. "It could be from getting nasty emails with pictures that automatically pop up in the screen when you look at your emails."

All of the items on the table Wednesday, those shown to jurors and those ruled off-limits, are legal to possess. The pictures, nonetheless, are a big part of the state's case. A child-abuse expert for the prosecution testified this week that pedophiles often use pornography to desensitize their intended victims to sex acts.

Jackson arrived for the show-and-tell early, avoiding another day of "will he or won't he arrive" drama. For a change, it was a member of the singer's own legal team who wasn't feeling well. Defense attorney Brian Oxman left the courthouse via ambulance, felled by pneumonia in the right lung. He was admitted to a nearby hospital.

As for Jackson, he was moving stiffly under his own power, two days after complaining of renewed back pain. Along with improved health came a job offer.

According to Us Weekly, the 46-year-old pop star is being wooed by a Las Vegas casino to become an in-resident performer, à la Celine Dion. X-rated displays like those seen inside the Santa Maria, California, courthouse likely wouldn't be a concern on the Strip. Jack Wishna, of the New Frontier Hotel and Casino, tells the magazine "there'd be moral clauses in the contract."

Elsewhere in court, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Detective Craig Bonner testified that the DNA of Jackson's accuser was not found on magazines or bourbon and wine bottles taken from the singer's bedroom.

Jackson is accused of molesting the boy, then 13, tempting him with wine and alcohol and conspiring to hold him and his family against their will. He has pleaded innocent to all charges.