The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jackson lawyers fight back to save image

Los Angeles, Nov. 22: Michael Jackson was holed up in a Las Vegas hotel suite yesterday but already the fight to try to rehabilitate his tattered public image had begun, with “sources” close to the singer speaking out about his alleged accuser.

The family of the child who claims he was molested were alleged to be “money grabbing” and to have exploited Jackson’s generosity.

The leaks left little doubt that the singer will fulfil his promise to fight the accusations of abuse “tooth and nail”. His legal team has been working on the case since March when Jackson, 45, first learned of the accusations.

Every piece of alleged damaging evidence and innuendo they have found is expected to be wielded to try to turn the court of public opinion back in favour of the singer.

It is the mother of the 12-year-old cancer patient at the centre of the case who is presently the focus of the attacks. One person in Jackson’s camp anonymously told the press that she had run to a lawyer after being told by the singer that he could no longer give them financial assistance, which had included him paying for a flat for her and her boyfriend.

She is reported to have been videoed “acting weird” and, in other tapes allegedly made by Jackson’s lawyers in the weeks before the arrest warrant was issued, the boy making the allegations is said to be shown denying them.

The approach, to go on the attack and try to remove the stigma in the public’s mind created by Thursday’s footage of Jackson being led into jail in handcuffs, is one often favoured by his lawyer, Mark Geragos.

It leaves no doubt how brutal will be the court case, whose arraignment hearing is on January 9. The defence is expected to suggest that the allegations are being made in the hope of achieving a settlement similar to the $25 million paid to a 13-year-old boy who made sex abuse accusations against Jackson 10 years ago.

Much is to be made of the fact that to prevent a repeat of such a scenario, Jackson apparently voluntarily accepted 24-hour monitoring from his aides so he was never by himself with a minor.

Another favoured Geragos tactic is to reinforce the impression of innocence by not acting guilty.

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