US-MICHAELJACKSON-AEG: Jackson’s sex abuse case may feature in new trial over death
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial and acquittal on child sex abuse charges may be revisited in a civil lawsuit next month that pits the pop singer’s mother against concert promoters AEG Live, a Los Angeles judge ruled on Thursday.
Katherine Jackson is suing AEG Live for the wrongful death of her son, alleging that the concert promoter was negligent in hiring Dr. Conrad Murray to care for the singer ahead of a series of London comeback concerts set for July 2009.
Jackson, 50, died in June 2009 in Los Angeles after a rehearsal for the concerts. Murray was found guilty in 2011 of responsibility for Jackson’s death by giving him the surgical anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid, and is serving a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled that attorneys for AEG Live could raise Jackson’s molestation trial as part of their defense in the wrongful death case as it may be relevant to his history of drug abuse and despondency.
After years of legal wrangling, the civil trial is due to get underway on April 2 and could last up to three months.
Katherine Jackson and the “Thriller” singer’s two oldest children, Prince and Paris, could be called as witnesses, Palazuelos ruled in a pre-trial hearing.
Murray may also be called to testify, although Katherine Jackson’s lawyer said the physician was planning to assert his Fifth Amendment rights and remain silent.
Katherine Jackson sued AEG Live a year after the “Thriller” singer’s death on behalf of his three children, Prince, Paris and Prince II, known as Blanket. She is not suing Murray.
The pop star stood trial in central California in 2005 on charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy he had befriended and hosted at his Neverland Ranch. After a more than four-month trial, the singer was acquitted on all counts.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler)