Los Angeles -- A former maid for Michael Jackson has told authorities that she quit her job with the entertainer after seeing him naked with young boys on a number of occasions, sources close to the Jackson investigation said yesterday.
"That is true," Blanca Francia, the former maid, told the Los Angeles Times yesterday. "I quit in 1991. I was disgusted. I could not stay."
Ms. Francia is scheduled to give a deposition later this week, and she declined to discuss what she saw in detail, saying she preferred to wait until after she had spoken under oath. She confirmed, however, comments from sources who said she gave investigators a detailed description of her years with Mr. Jackson and her reasons for leaving.
Larry R. Feldman, the lawyer for a 13-year-old boy who alleges that Mr. Jackson sexually molested him, declined repeated requests for comment yesterday on Ms. Francia or on her deposition, but he has said on previous occasions that she is an "extremely significant witness."
According to sources close to the investigation, Ms. Francia has said that she saw Mr. Jackson in a shower with a young boy and in a Jacuzzi, where he also was with a boy. In both cases, Ms. Francia said Mr. Jackson and the boys were naked. Ms. Francia also has alleged that she once found Mr. Jackson and another boy together in a sleeping bag.
Ms. Francia said she worked for the singer for five years, quitting only because she became angered by what she saw of his contact with young boys. "It was very difficult," she said, "very hard."
Ms. Francia is the only person close to Mr. Jackson to publicly state that she saw the entertainer naked with young boys. Police and prosecutors have questioned her at length, and sources said authorities consider her a potentially important witness in the criminal probe of Mr. Jackson's activities.
In court papers filed six weeks ago, Mr. Feldman listed her as one of a number of Jackson employees and former employees whom he wanted to question under oath.
Neither Howard Weitzman nor Johnnie Cochran Jr., Mr. Jackson's principal attorneys, was available for comment yesterday about Ms. Francia or her potential significance to the case against their client. Anthony Pellicano, Mr. Jackson's private investigator, did not respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Francia's remarks came as interest mounted in a related pair of criminal and civil investigations into Mr. Jackson's relationship with the 13-year-old boy. Mr. Jackson's lawyers obtained a temporary gag order yesterday morning that prevents lawyers from discussing the contents of depositions taken as part of the civil suit.
After the court session, one of Mr. Jackson's lawyers confirmed that the entertainer has returned to Southern California, ending a stay in Europe where Mr. Jackson said he was seeking treatment for an addiction to painkillers.
"He is back to establish his innocence," Mr. Cochran said during a morning news conference outside court.
Amid a swirl of rumor and unconfirmed reports, Mr. Jackson returned to California on Friday after at least one meeting between his lawyers and prosecutors. Sources said those meetings dealt in part with the conditions for Mr. Jackson's return and his possible cooperation with authorities. Among other things, police want to search Mr. Jackson's body to see if what they observe matches a physical description provided by the boy.
When Mr. Jackson halted his world concert tour on Nov. 12, his lawyers said he would be in drug treatment for at least six to eight weeks. Although Mr. Cochran said Mr. Jackson still is receiving treatment, his quick return prompted Mr. Feldman to remark, "What I'm surprised about is that Jackson made such a speedy recovery. It was supposed to be eight weeks, and as soon as there is an agreement with the DA's office, he's back."