LOS ANGELES - A former attorney for the mother of Michael Jackson's cancer-stricken accuser said the boy is in very poor health and his family is in seclusion, paying little attention to the high-profile legal fight.
Attorney William Dickerman also said Tuesday that based on what he knows of the evidence, he believes the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office has a strong case.
"Is a D.A. really going to put into gear the machinery of an entire district attorney's office on a case involving such a renowned person without having a stronger basis than he said-she said?" the Los Angeles-based attorney said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
He said there was "plenty of persuasive oral evidence," including findings of molestation by "a very conservative psychologist who is inclined not to find molestation." Asked if there was physical evidence, he replied, "It certainly wouldn't surprise me."
Dickerman offered several details Tuesday about how the allegations against the pop superstar eventually reached prosecutors. However, he declined to answer other questions about the case, saying he was unsure whether he was covered by a gag order ordered Friday by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville.
He said the family was brought to him last year by Jamie Masada, a comedy club owner who introduced Jackson and the boy late in 2002.
Dickerman said the family was concerned about Jackson-related matters that did not involve molestation, but he declined to describe them. The molestation allegations arose later, he said.
Dickerman said he then contacted attorney Larry Feldman, who represented the boy who accused Jackson of molestation in 1993, and that Feldman later took over the case. The boy who made the allegations in 1993 reportedly received a multimillion dollar settlement from Jackson and refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
"Since he'd essentially written the book on civil action with Michael Jackson he would be the one to give more thorough counsel on Michael Jackson," Dickerman said.
Dickerman said both he and Feldman stopped representing the family last fall, when it became apparent Jackson would be criminally charged.
He said the family does not plan to seek money from Jackson, and described himself as a "family friend," not a legal representative.
Feldman did not return a call for comment Tuesday. But a source close to the family had confirmed that Feldman did meet with the boy and his mother, and had the boy see a psychologist.
The psychologist, who had handled celebrity cases before, went to authorities under a legal requirement to report any claims of child molestation.
Jackson was charged last month with seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent," reportedly wine, between Feb. 7 and March 10, 2003. He has pleaded innocent.
Dickerman added to details about the boy's health from Masada, who said on Thanksgiving that the boy is seriously ill. Dickerman said the boy lost a kidney, his spleen and an adrenal gland in surgery to remove a large tumor.
He declined to say how the boy, his siblings and his mother spend their days. He said he is in touch with the family frequently, and has seen the boy within the last few weeks.
"They're in hiding," he said. "They're very private people."
Also Tuesday, Jackson attorney Mark Geragos and Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon submitted proposed additions to the judge's order barring them from speaking about the case. The judge asked for written arguments when he issued the gag order Friday, in response to Geragos' request that he be allowed to respond to false information about his client.
Geragos' proposal asked that attorneys be allowed to respond to statements that would subject a client to "undue prejudice" or "adverse publicity."
Sneddon asked for more restrictive rules, saying attorneys should only be allowed to issue written responses, and only when the basis of a question is false. He also asked that the attorneys on each side confer with each other before releasing responses.