Michael Jackson's child sex accuser and his family were again branded liars in court yesterday (17MAY05) when a social worker testified they had nothing but praise for the pop star when she interviewed them.

Los Angeles Child Services veteran IRENE PETERS also told jurors in Jackson's ongoing child molestation trial she met privately with the accuser and his family and didn't get the impression they were being held against their will at the star's Neverland Ranch, as they claim.

Peters, who insisted the family members praised Jackson and denied any sexual abuse, recalled meeting teenager accuser GAVIN ARVIZO, his mother Janet, and two siblings in February 2003, after the airing of Martin Bashir's damning LIVING WITH MICHAEL JACKSON documentary that drew attention to Jackson's relationship with the boy.

She told the court, "I asked him if he had ever been sexually abused by Michael Jackson and he became upset. He said, 'Everybody thinks Michael Jackson sexually abused me. He never touched me.'"

Peters testified she also interviewed the mother separately, and she claimed Jackson was responsible for helping her son, then 13, battle cancer.

The social worker added, "She denied all allegations of general neglect... I asked her about the relationship with Michael Jackson. She went on to say he was like a father to her children."

Jackson has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony charges of child molestation, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiracy involving allegations of child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.

The trial continues.

18/05/2005 02:42