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Boy's Stepfather Sues Michael Jackson

August 17, 1994|JIM NEWTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The stepfather of a young boy who allegedly was sexually molested by Michael Jackson has filed a new lawsuit against the multimillionaire entertainer, saying his family was destroyed when Jackson seduced his stepson.

The stepfather's "family life was devastated by Michael Jackson, who interposed himself into the . . . family, lavishing expensive gifts on (his) wife and children, pitting family member against family member, and finally sexually assaulting (his) son despite (his) best efforts to protect the minor child."

The suit, filed by three attorneys on behalf of the stepfather, represents the latest legal tangle for Jackson, who has been dogged by lawsuits since a 13-year-old boy accused him of sexual molestation last year. That boy settled his lawsuit for an undisclosed sum, but sources close to the case have said it fell between $15 million and $24 million.

That ended the boy's suit, but Tuesday's action represents a new wrinkle, raising for the first time the possibility that Jackson could be forced to battle the boy's family members too. Although he helped raise the boy, the stepfather does not live with him at this point, and some legal experts questioned whether he would have a valid claim against Jackson.

Larry Feldman, the lawyer who represented the boy in his suit, declined to comment on the suit by the boy's stepfather.

Attorney Howard Weitzman said neither he nor Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., the two lawyers who represent Jackson, had received the complaint. But Weitzman dismissed the action as frivolous and said Jackson is innocent of any wrongdoing.

"Mr. Jackson has consistently maintained that he did nothing wrong," Weitzman said. "This lawsuit is frivolous and another attempt to take advantage of Mr. Jackson's notoriety and fame in order to try to extract money from him."

The stepfather's 22-page complaint reiterates the allegations of sexual molestation that surfaced in August, 1993, after the boy told a therapist that Jackson had seduced him over a period of months. The stepfather's attorneys include Danny Davis, a well-known Beverly Hills lawyer who successfully represented the lead defendant in the McMartin Preschool child molestation case.

In addition to claiming that the alleged seduction by Jackson split apart the stepfather's family, the new lawsuit contends that Jackson's actions caused the boy's stepsister pain as well.

"Essentially, (she) was used as a pawn by Jackson in his seduction of (the boy), and the stigma of being used for that purpose remains with her on a daily basis as she continues to grieve (over) the loss of her brother," the lawsuit states.

The allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson touched off an international media frenzy last year and sparked simultaneous civil and criminal cases.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is continuing to investigate a possible criminal case against Jackson. But no charges have been filed against the entertainer, who recently was married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the late Elvis Presley.

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