Neverland Ex-Guard Testifies

Witness Says He Wasn't Allowed to Let Jackson Accuser Leave

By Linda Deutsch
Associated Press
Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page C03

SANTA MARIA, Calif., April 20 -- A former security guard at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch testified at the pop star's child molestation trial Wednesday that a notice once was posted in a guard station saying Jackson's young accuser was not to be allowed to leave the estate.

But the prosecution witness, Brian Barron, also said under defense questioning that it would have been appropriate to keep child guests on the estate if their parents weren't present and that guards probably would not let any children leave if they were unsupervised.

Prosecution witness Brian Barron, a former security guard at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. (Pool Photo Justin Sullivan)

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Barron, a police officer for the nearby town of Guadalupe, moonlighted at Neverland for about three years until after the ranch was raided by sheriff's investigators on Nov. 18, 2003. He said his superiors in Guadalupe suggested he leave the estate because of the criminal investigation.

He said he refused a request by the sheriff's department that he go back to work at Neverland as a law enforcement informant.

Barron said the directive that the boy was not to leave the estate was posted during a week-long period in January or February 2003. He said he did not know who wrote it.

He said the instruction, written on a grease board, remained up for about a week.

"We weren't allowed to let him off property without some sort of permission from the ranch manager," Barron said under questioning by a prosecutor.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Sanger asked whether the general policy at the ranch was that children visiting without parents would not be allowed to leave by themselves.

"We would not let them go off the ranch without supervision," Barron said.

Barron acknowledged that as a police officer he would have been required to report anything illegal he saw at the ranch but that he never had grounds to do so.

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy, at the time a 13-year-old cancer patient, in February or March 2003. He also is accused of conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to make a so-called rebuttal video following the airing of a TV documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson, who said he let children sleep in his bed but that it was non-sexual.

The prosecution informed the court Tuesday, in the eighth week of the trial since opening statements, that it planned to rest its case next week.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss, Barron said employees were tense when Jackson was at Neverland.

"He's like a perfectionist. Everything has to be right," Barron said of Jackson. "There was a lot of work to be done. Everyone was walking on pins and needles a little more to make sure everything was right."

© 2005 The Washington Post Company