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Lawyer: Jackson Accuser Not Seriously Ill

The attorney for the father of Michael Jackson’s accuser said Tuesday that reports that the boy is seriously ill are unfounded.

Attorney Russell Halpern said that someone who had spoken to the boy Monday night told him the boy was doing as well as he was six months ago, when he appeared healthy. The boy has been battling cancer.

Comedy club owner Jamie Masada, who says he introduced Jackson and the boy, reported on Thanksgiving Day that he had seen the boy days earlier and that his remaining kidney was failing. Masada said the boy’s other kidney and spleen had been removed along with a large tumor in his stomach.

Halpern said the person who gave him information about the boy’s condition was “far more reliable than the comedy club guy.”

Asked why Masada would call a news conference to provide false information, Halpern said, “I don’t know, ask him.”

Masada did not return a call for comment Tuesday. He said last week that Jackson and the boy first came into contact about two years ago, soon after doctors gave the boy three weeks to live. Masada said he asked Jackson’s people to have the singer call the boy and try to cheer him up.

Also Tuesday, Halpern said the boy’s father will seek custody of the boy, his brother, and his sister. Halpern said his client has been considering seeking custody for weeks because Jackson and the boy have shared Jackson’s bed.

Halpern said that showed the boy’s mother was negligent, whether or not the molestation allegations are true. Jackson has acknowledged letting many children sleep in his bed, but said it was not sexual.

When the boy’s parents were divorcing, the mother alleged that the father abused her for years.

In 2002, the boy’s father was charged with four counts of child cruelty, and one count each of injuring a child, making a threat and false imprisonment. He pleaded no contest to one count of child cruelty but it was unclear from court records which of his children was involved. The other charges were dismissed.

The father also pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 2001.

Halpern said his client only pleaded no contest to avoid going to trial on the charges.

A secretary for Michael E. Manning, the mother’s attorney, said the mother has asked him not to speak to reporters.

The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse. The child’s mother has an unlisted number and could not be located for comment.

Jackson has said the allegations against him are “predicated on a big lie.” He surrendered to Santa Barbara County authorities Nov. 20 on an arrest warrant alleging he committed lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, and was released on $3 million bail.

Authorities say they expect to file charges sometime after Dec. 15.

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