Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The claim by Jesus Salas, a one-time house manager, that the Avrilo family's mother was at no point "held at Neverland Ranch against her will" kind of got lost during the excitement at the testimony of Jason Francia. Francia is a 24 year-old who claims that Jackson touched him, too. He was the son of a Jackson maid:

Questioned by Ron Zonen, for the prosecution, about times he had felt "uncomfortable" with Jackson, Mr Francia related an incident when he was aged about seven at Jackson's apartment.

"I was sitting on his lap. I was watching TV and he was facing the TV as well, my back was to his chest.

"He started tickling me - which was cool, I tickled him back. Then somehow we got on to the floor, and then I'm tickling and he's tickling. He moved down to my little private region, around my crotch area. Eventually it stopped."

He said that at the time he thought it was ''weird but not super weird because it was tickling".

He related a second incident where he was watching cartoons at the Hollywood apartment while lying on a sleeping bag on the floor. Jackson lay down next to him and began "spooning him", he said.

"He was tickling me from behind. I was laughing, trying to tickle him back." Then the singer moved his hand down to touch the boy's genitals through his clothes.

Asked how long the contact lasted, Mr Francia said: "About two cartoons' worth."

Francia claims that the family reached an out-of-court settlement with Jackson - one that, unusually for this sort of deal, seems to have held quite well. Until now.

The case continues.

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