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Jackson's Contact With 4 Boys Reportedly Under Investigation : Inquiry: Molestation allegations are the first against singer, source says. LAPD contends it has no details of extortion claim.

August 26, 1993|SONIA NAZARIO and AMY WALLACE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Police officers probing allegations of sexual abuse by entertainer Michael Jackson are investigating his contact with at least four young boys, including the 13-year-old Los Angeles boy whose therapist was the first to report the alleged molestation, a source close to the investigation said Wednesday.

"They are even interviewing friends of friends, to see if they were told anything," the source said, adding that the recent round of allegations are the first ever leveled against the international pop superstar.

The investigation started in July when the father of the 13-year-old took his son to a therapist to discuss the allegations regarding Jackson, according to police sources. The therapist immediately reported that detailed interview, and investigators have since broadened their inquiry to include at least three other children, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Neither Jackson nor his lawyer, Howard Weitzman, were available for comment Wednesday. But members of the Jackson family released a statement supporting the singer, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

"We wish to state our collective, unequivocal belief that Michael has been made victim of a cruel and obvious attempt to take advantage of his fame and success," said the statement, signed by 10 family members. "We know, as does the whole world, that he has dedicated his life to providing happiness for young people everywhere."

A private investigator who works for the entertainer blamed the allegations on an extortion attempt that Jackson rebuffed. Details of that alleged extortion, however, have not been reported to police, according to officials in the LAPD's Major Crimes Unit, which would be responsible for handling such an investigation.

"Nobody's brought anything to us," said Capt. William O. Gartland, head of major crimes.

The 13-year-old boy whose allegations triggered the probe is at the center of a bitter custody dispute, at least part of which grows out of his father's discomfort about the boy's relationship with Jackson, court files show.

The father, in fact, persuaded his ex-wife on July 12 to sign a stipulation that, among other things, barred all contact between the boy and Jackson. Under that stipulation, she gave up legal custody and was allowed to visit the boy only on the condition that he not have "any contact or communication in any form, directly or indirectly, including, but not limited to, telephone communication with a third-party adult male known as Michael Jackson."

Superior Court Judge Kenneth A. Black approved the document. Later, however, the mother withdrew from it, saying she had only agreed to sign it in an attempt to get her former husband to let her see her son--who had been spending the week with his father.

On Aug. 17, one day after Black ordered the boy's father to return the child to his mother, police launched their investigation.

Police searched Jackson's Los Olivos ranch and a Los Angeles condominium on Aug. 21, seizing a number of videotapes and other possible evidence in the case. But sources cautioned that such searches and seizures are common when allegations of sexual abuse are made, and they do not necessarily indicate that police have uncovered anything that implicates Jackson.

Sources say the boy's father, a Beverly Hills dentist, took his son to a therapist when the boy came to visit him in early July. The therapist spoke to the boy and then immediately reported the allegations of sexual abuse--which involve oral sex and fondling--to the Sexually Exploited Child Unit of the LAPD. Officers from that unit later interviewed the boy themselves, a police source said.

The boy's father would not respond to requests for comment Wednesday, declining to come to the door of his Brentwood home. A towel hung over the window in the front door, and a German shepherd stood guard at the gate.

The boy's mother and father were divorced in 1985 after an 11-year marriage. The mother, who had custody of the boy, later married an executive with a car rental company.

In July, the boy went to visit his father for a week. A police source said the boy and his father apparently had a long discussion that day, and the next day the father presented the mother with the stipulation barring contact with Jackson.

The mother said she was not entering into an agreement under duress. But less than a month later, when she withdrew from the agreement, she said she had indeed been pressured. "The only reason I signed this stipulation was because the (father) told me that if I did not sign the stipulation, I would not have (my son) returned to me," the mother said.

In May, Jackson and the boy were spotted in Monte Carlo at a music awards ceremony. The boy's mother and sister also accompanied Jackson on the trip.

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