http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1099728342146190.xml Local Man Sues Michael Jackson (New Orleans)
By Susan Finch
A local man this week sued pop star Michael Jackson, claiming Jackson held him prisoner and sexually assaulted and battered him in 1984 over a nine-day period.
Joseph Thomas Bartucci Jr. said the experience was so traumatic that he repressed memory of it until he saw a Court TV report last year about a California investigation of Jackson for alleged child molestation.
In a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court here, Bartucci said that between May 19 and May 27, 1984, the singer and his employees threatened Bartucci with bodily harm, held him at gunpoint and otherwise intimidated him so that the singer could sexually molest and physically abuse him, and ensure those acts would be kept secret.
Among other things, according to the suit, Jackson performed oral sex on Bartucci, then 18, and tried to make Bartucci do the same to him. The suit says Jackson also forced Bartucci to consume mood-altering substances and inflicted injury by biting him, cutting him with a razor blade and puncturing his chest with a steel wire.
According to the suit, Bartucci was subjected to such treatment in Jackson's limousine, starting in New Orleans and continuing on a trip to California, where Jackson again accosted him in a building Bartucci said he cannot identify.
Bartucci's New Orleans attorney, Stephen Murray, said in a Friday interview that his client, now 39, has been interviewed at length by California authorities, the FBI and New Orleans police.
Bartucci, who grew up in Pineville, is now disabled and last year liquidated his business holdings, including an insurance agency and a tutoring company, because of a vision problem that Murray said began shortly after his 1984 experience with Jackson.
Murray said Bartucci now lives in the New Orleans area.
According to Murray, Bartucci was a 92-pound, slightly built teenager fresh out of high school when he came to New Orleans in May 1984 with two friends to attend the world's fair. That was the last thing Bartucci remembered about his trip until seeing the TV special about Jackson in November 2003, Murray said.
What Bartucci has now remembered, Murray said, is that having gotten separated from his two friends near the world's fair site, he encountered a man who asked him if he wanted to meet a celebrity.
Bartucci, who Murray said looked much younger than 18, accepted the offer and was taken to a nearby white limousine, in which he found Jackson.
Bartucci's ordeal ended after he was driven in that same limousine back to New Orleans, where he was put out on the street and warned not to talk about what had happened, Murray said. He returned home, weeping and unable to give his parents an explanation.
"He just knew that something horrible had happened, but he had no memory of the specifics of anything," Murray said.
Bartucci is seeking money to compensate him for what the suit says are severe and continuing problems, including depression, suicidal tendencies, marital difficulties, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also is asking that Jackson be ordered to pay him punitive damages.
Efforts to reach Jackson's Los Angeles attorneys were unsuccessful Friday. But one of them, Brian Oxman, told CNN earlier this week, "We will find out the details and deal with it as we do with all other claims and lawsuits against Michael."
In its account of Bartucci's lawsuit, CNN said the Los Angeles Police Department announced this summer that an investigation into another charge of child abuse against Jackson, in which the alleged victim also claimed to have recently recalled repressed memories of molestation during the 1980s, found "no evidence that any crime occurred" and said no charges would be filed.
Jackson was indicted in April by a Santa Barbara, Calif., county grand jury on charges of child molestation, conspiracy and giving alcohol to a minor. That case has not gone to trial.