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Jackson warned on tardiness; accuser tells of sex assaults

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Michael Jackson heard his accuser level graphic allegations of child molestation during his trial yesterday after the singer arrived late in pajama pants and slippers and was threatened with jail by a judge who was unswayed by his claim of a back injury.

The dramatic entrance quickly paled as the trial reached the heart of the prosecution's case, with the accuser describing lewd remarks and acts by Jackson and then engaging in a combative exchange with Jackson's lawyer.

''After you met with an attorney, you came up with a story that you were [molested] by Michael Jackson," lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. said, in an attack on damaging testimony given against Jackson.

The boy denied that lawyers influenced him, and he became defensive under the cross-examination. He said he once considered Jackson his ''best friend in the world" but indicated he felt rejected by the star at one point.

The singer, wearing a coat over a T-shirt, walked gingerly into court after being treated at a hospital for what was described as a serious back problem resulting from a fall. Jackson arrived after Judge Rodney S. Melville threatened to arrest him and revoke his $3 million bail; the judge later vacated the warrant.

Jurors got only a hint of the drama involving the judge.

''Mr. Jackson had a medical problem, and it was necessary for me to order his appearance," Melville told jurors, adding that he did not want the panel to draw negative inferences.

Jackson, 46, watched as his accuser described extensive visits with Jackson at Neverland that involved alcohol, of looking at sex magazines with the singer, and of being molested as he lay in Jackson's bed.

Under questioning by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the boy said he remembered two sexual encounters.

In testimony that was hushed and sometimes mumbled, the young cancer survivor said Jackson molested him the first time in his bedroom after they returned from drinking in Neverland's arcade. The boy said the second molestation occurred ''about a day after."

In opening statements the defense noted that no DNA from the boy was found in Jackson's bedroom.

The accuser's testimony differed from his brother's earlier testimony, and it was unclear whether they were talking about the same incidents. The brother said he saw Jackson and the boy in their underwear and that the boy was asleep. The brother also said the boy was on top of the bedcovers.

On cross-examination, Mesereau alleged that the accuser was making up the story. Jackson's lawyers have said the molestation claims are an attempt by the accuser's family to get money.

Mesereau also attacked the boy's testimony that he did not feel that Jackson had done much for him when he had cancer.

Mesereau's cross-examination of the boy will resume Monday; the court planned to handle pending motions today.

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