LOS OLIVOS, Calif. -- Michael Jackson's accuser is distressed and having ''a difficult time" dealing with the not-guilty verdict against the pop singer, the prosecutor in the molestation case said yesterday.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon told NBC's ''Today" that he spoke to the accuser immediately after Jackson was acquitted on all counts Monday.
''He's very down. He's having a difficult time understanding why people didn't believe him," Sneddon said.
''He's gone through a lot in his life. He's survived cancer, a very serious bout of cancer," he said. ''He didn't necessarily want to get involved in this case. . . . It was very painful for him to tell people what had happened to him."
Sneddon and Senior Deputy District Attorney Ron Zonen defended the decision to put the accuser's mother on the witness stand. Jurors have said she put them off by staring at them, snapping her fingers during testimony, and winking at the jury foreman.
''She behaved as she behaves," Zonen said on CNN. ''This is her. She does snap her fingers when she talks to you; she has unusual behavioral patterns. I was hopeful that the jury would be able to understand that she is who she is and simply accept her testimony accordingly." He said she was a vital witness because she had information no one else had.
Jackson has not been seen in public since returning to his Neverland ranch immediately after the acquittal was announced. He looked exhausted as he walked slowly out of court, giving a tentative wave to fans. ''He has to spend some time healing," lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said.
By late Tuesday night, only 20 to 30 Jackson fans remained outside Neverland. Of the dozen or more television trucks that had once lined the walls outside Jackson's estate, only two remained.
''People don't know who Michael Jackson is," said defense attorney Susan Yu. ''I spent a lot of time with him. I've never seen anybody so vulnerable. This person is totally incapable of doing any of the things they said he did."
Despite the acquittal, at least three jurors said afterward they suspected the pop star has molested some boys, but not the one who accused him in court. Because of the public perceptions, Mesereau said, Jackson will have to change his lifestyle. As for letting children sleep in his bed, Jackson is ''not going to do that because it makes him vulnerable to false charges," Mesereau said.
The accuser is now a high school football player who aspires to a career in law enforcement. His mother is married to an Army major, and the family says physical abuse by the children's biological father is behind them.