Ο κύριος στη φωτογραφία ονομάζεται Lee Thomas και έχει κάτι κοινό με τον “ Βασιλιά της Ποπ”, Michael Jackson. Αυτό δεν είναι η ικανότητά του στο χορό και το τραγούδι αλλά το γεγονός ότι και οι δύο προσβλήθηκαν από την ίδια δερματική πάθηση που ονομάζεται Vitiligo ( στα ελληνικά,Λεύκη). Η Λεύκη είναι μια χρόνια διαταραχή που προκαλεί αποχρωματισμό και σημάδια στο δέρμα. Εμφανίζεται όταν τα μελανοκκύταρα, τα κύτταρα που είναι υπεύθυνα για το χρώμα του δέρματος, πεθαίνουν ή δεν είναι σε θέση να λειτουργήσουν. Αυτό έχει σαν αποτέλεσμα τον αποχρωματισμό τμημάτων η ολόκληρου του δέρματος ή τη δημιουργία κηλίδων. Τα αιτία που προκαλούν την εμφάνιση της λεύκης δεν είναι γνωστά (για περισσότερες πληροφορίες http://www.medlook.net/article.asp?item_id=1627 )
|Michael Jackosn (1981)|
Ο Jackson διαγνώστηκε ότι υπέφερε από Λεύκη κατά τη διάρκεια της δεκαετίας του 80′. Αυτή η δραματική αλλοίωση του χρώματος του δέρματός του έχει γίνει πολλές φορές αντικείμενο αστείων και ανεκδότων, με πολλούς να υπαινίσσονται ή ακόμη και να υποστηρίζουν ότι η αλλαγή αυτή ήταν εσκεμμένη. Οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι δεν θα δικαιολογούσουν σε καμία περίπτωση ένα δημόσιο πρόσωπο που άλλαξε τόσο ριζικά τα χαρακτηρίστηκα του προσώπου του και συμπεριφέρεται περίεργα.Ισως όμως θα πρέπει να αναλογιστούμε τον ρόλο που αυτή η περίεργη ασθένεια μπορεί να είχε παίξει στα προφανή θέματα αυτοεκτίμησης που είχε ο μεγάλος αυτός καλλιτέχνης.
Όταν το 1993 σε μια ζωντανή τηλεοπτική συνέντευξη ο Τζάκσον, εμφανώς συγκινημένος, ανακοίνωσε τους λόγους για την αλλαγή του χρώματος του δέρματός του, ήταν προφανές ότι το θέμα ήταν αρκετά επώδυνο γι’ αυτόν. Ο Τζάκσον εξήγησε ότι χρησιμοποιούσε μέικ απ για να κάνει τον τόνο του δέρματός του πιο ενιαίο καθώς, όπως είπε, η ασθένεια αυτή δημιουργεί κηλίδες στο δέρμα.
Η προσωπική του μακιγιέζ είπε το 2004 : « Άρχισε να εμφανίζεται (η ασθένεια) σχετικά νωρίς, προσπαθούσε να το κρύψει κι από μένα ακόμη…
προσπάθησε να το κρύψει γιααρκετό καιρό. Προσπαθούσε να το καλύψει με μακιγιάζ μέχρι που επεκτάθηκε πολύ. Είναι σε ολόκληρο το σώμα του. Προσπαθούσαμε να το κρύψουμε και να το καλύψουμε όσο το δυνατόν περισσότερο μέχρι τη στιγμή που αναγκάστηκε να πει στο κοινό , « Κοιτάξτε, δεν προσπαθώ να γίνω λευκός, έχω μια δερματική πάθηση»
Στην αρχή προσπαθούσα να καλύψω τα λεύκα σημεία ώστε να ταιριάζουν με το σκούρο τμήμα του δέρματός του όμως στη συνέχεια επεκτάθηκε τόσο πολύ που έπρεπε να προχωρήσουμε στο πιο ανοιχτό τμήμα του δέρματός του, επειδή όλο του το σώμα αντιδρούσε … όλο του το σώμα έπρεπε να είναι καλυμμένο με μακιγιάζ, κάθε εκατοστό. Ήταν λοιπόν πιο εύκολο να κάνουμε την μετάβαση από τη σκούρα στην ανοιχτή απόχρωση που είναι σήμερα.»
Οι σκεπτικιστές όρμησαν αμέσως στον Τζάκσον διαδίδοντας φήμες για προιόντα λεύκανσης του δέρματος και εξωτερικευμένου ρατσισμού. Πολλοί ισχυρίστηκαν, και ακόμα το κάνουν, ότι ο Jackson δεν επιθυμούσε πλέον να είναι μαύρος. Μερικοί είπαν ότι απεχθανόταν τόσο πολύ τον πατέρα του ώστε να αλλοιώσει την ίδια του τη φυλή. Άλλοι,πάλι,είπαν ότι έγινε σεξουαλικά και φυλετικά μη προσδιορίσιμος ώστε να μπορεί νααπευθύνεται σε ένα ευρύτερο κοινό.
Ο ίδιος ο Μichael Jackson είπε το 1993 : « Είμαι μαύρος Αμερικάνος, είμαι περήφανος για τη φυλή μου. Είμαι περήφανος γι’ αυτό που είμαι. Έχω πολύ περηφάνια και αξιοπρέπεια.
Προσπαθούμε να την ελέγξουμε [την ασθένεια] και χρησιμοποιώντας μακιγιάζ την κάνει πιο ενιαία [την Λεύκη] γιατί δημιουργεί κηλίδες στο δέρμα μου.»
τρομερή ανασφάλεια με την εμφάνισή του. Αυτό ξεκίνησε στην εφηβεία με το τρομερό πρόβλημα ακμής που είχε αλλά και το γεγονός ότι ο πατέρας του συνήθιζε να τον κοροϊδεύει για τη μεγάλη του μύτη. Μπορεί κανείς να φανταστεί το χτύπημα που θα πρέπει να επέφερε στην ήδη ταραγμένη του αυτοεκτίμηση η συγκεκριμένη αρρώστια. Και το γεγονός ότι έπρεπε να βιώνει όλη αυτή την κατάσταση μπροστά στα μάτια όλου του κόσμου δεν βοηθούσε την υπόθεση.
Κάποτε διάβασα την έξης φράση “ Όταν στην αλυσίδα των γνώσεων που έχει ο κάθε άνθρωπος λείπουν κρίκοι, προσπαθούν να καλύψουν το κενό με προκαταλήψεις”
Mετά το θάνατο του Τζάκσον πολλές πληροφορίες και στοιχεία για την ασθένεια του ήρθαν στο φώς. Σύμφωνα λοιπόν με το πόρισμα των ιατροδικαστών ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον,πράγματι,υπέφερα από Λεύκη.
ΑP ( Associated Press) : Οι ιατροδικαστές βρήκαν αποχρωματισμό του δέρματος γύρω από το στήθος του, στην κοιλιά του, το πρόσωπο, τα χέρια
Το έγγραφο της ιατροδικαστική έρευνας
To συγκεκριμένο γάντι ανήκε στον Μάικλ Τζάκσον. Πολλοί κοντινοί του συνεργάτες υποστηρίζουν ότι ο Τζάκσον το πρωτοφόρεσε για να κρύψει τα σημάδια της Λεύκης που είχαν αρχίσει να κάνουν την εμφάνιση στο αριστερό του χέρι. Στο γάντι φαίνονται καθαρά τα σημάδια απο το μακιγιάζ που χρησιμοποιούσε ο τραγουδιστής ακόμα και στα άκρα του. Το γάντι, όπως και το καπέλο που φορούσε ο τραγουδιστής προκειμένουν να προφυλάσσεται απο την υπερβολική ακτινοβολία του ήλιου, αργότερα έγινα το σήμακατατεθέν του.
|Michael Jackson (1984)|
|O Michael Jackson σε νεαρή ηλικία.|
Σ’αυτές τις φωτογραφίες φαίνονται καθαρά τα σημάδια του Vitilligo (Λεύκης) στα πόδια του Michael Jackson.
The Untold Story
Mary A. Fischer
GQ, October 1994
Did Michael Do It? The untold story of the events that brought down a superstar
Before O.J. Simpson, there was Michael Jackson—another beloved black celebrity seemingly brought down by allegations of scandal in his personal life. Those allegations—that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old boy—instigated a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, two grand-jury investigations and a shameless media circus. Jackson, in turn, filed charges of extortion against some of his accusers. Ultimately, the suit was settled out of court for a sum that has been estimated at $20 million; no criminal charges were brought against Jackson by the police or the grand juries. This past August, Jackson was in the news again, when Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’s daughter, announced that she and the singer had married.
As the dust settles on one of the nation’s worst episodes of media excess, one thing is clear: The American public has never heard a defense of Michael Jackson. Until now.
It is, of course, impossible to prove a negative—that is, prove that something didn’t happen. But it is possible to take an in-depth look at the people who made the allegations against Jackson and thus gain insight into their character and motives. What emerges from such an examination, based on court documents, business records and scores of interviews, is a persuasive argument that Jackson molested no one and that he himself may have been the victim of a well-conceived plan to extract money from him.
More than that, the story that arises from this previously unexplored territory is radically different from the tale that has been promoted by tabloid and even mainstream journalists. It is a story of greed, ambition, misconceptions on the part of police and prosecutors, a lazy and sensation-seeking media and the use of a powerful, hypnotic drug. It may also be a story about how a case was simply invented.
“This attorney I found, I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find,” Chandler said in the recorded conversation with Schwartz. “All he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can, and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s very smart, and he’s hungry for the publicity.”
Neither Michael Jackson nor his current defense attorneys agreed to be interviewed for this article. Had they decided to fight the civil charges and go to trial, what follows might have served as the core of Jackson’s defense—as well as the basis to further the extortion charges against his own accusers, which could well have exonerated the singer.
Jackson’s troubles began when his van broke down on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in May 1992. Stranded in the middle of the heavily trafficked street, Jackson was spotted by the wife of Mel Green, an employee at Rent-a-Wreck, an offbeat car-rental agency a mile away. Green went to the rescue. When Dave Schwartz, the owner of the car-rental company, heard Green was bringing Jackson to the lot, he called his wife, June, and told her to come over with their 6-year-old daughter and her son from her previous marriage. The boy, then 12, was a big Jackson fan. Upon arriving, June Chandler Schwartz told Jackson about the time her son had sent him a drawing after the singer’s hair caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. Then she gave Jackson their home number.
“It was almost like she was forcing [the boy] on him,” Green recalls. “I think Michael thought he owed the boy something, and that’s when it all started.”
Certain facts about the relationship are not in dispute. Jackson began calling the boy, and a friendship developed. After Jackson returned from a promotional tour, three months later, June Chandler Schwartz and her son and daughter became regular guests at Neverland, Jackson’s ranch in Santa Barbara County. During the following year, Jackson showered the boy and his family with attention and gifts, including video games, watches, an after-hours shopping spree at Toys “R” Us and trips around the world—from Las Vegas and Disney World to Monaco and Paris.
By March 1993, Jackson and the boy were together frequently and the sleepovers began. June Chandler Schwartz had also become close to Jackson “and liked him enormously,” one friend says. “He was the kindest man she had ever met.”
Jackson’s personal eccentricities—from his attempts to remake his face through plastic surgery to his preference for the company of children—have been widely reported. And while it may be unusual for a 35-year-old man to have sleepovers with a 13-year-old child, the boy’s mother and others close to Jackson never thought it odd. Jackson’s behavior is better understood once it’s put in the context of his own childhood.
“Contrary to what you might think, Michael’s life hasn’t been a walk in the park,” one of his attorneys says. Jackson’s childhood essentially stopped—and his unorthodox life began—when he was 5 years old and living in Gary, Indiana. Michael spent his youth in rehearsal studios, on stages performing before millions of strangers and sleeping in an endless string of hotel rooms. Except for his eight brothers and sisters, Jackson was surrounded by adults who pushed him relentlessly, particularly his father, Joe Jackson—a strict, unaffectionate man who reportedly beat his children.
Jackson’s early experiences translated into a kind of arrested development, many say, and he became a child in a man’s body. “He never had a childhood,” says Bert Fields, a former attorney of Jackson’s. “He is having one now. His buddies are 12-year-old kids. They have pillow fights and food fights.” Jackson’s interest in children also translated into humanitarian efforts. Over the years, he has given millions to causes benefiting children, including his own Heal The World Foundation.
But there is another context—the one having to do with the times in which we live—in which most observers would evaluate Jackson’s behavior. “Given the current confusion and hysteria over child sexual abuse,” says Dr. Phillip Resnick, a noted Cleveland psychiatrist, “any physical or nurturing contact with a child may be seen as suspicious, and the adult could well be accused of sexual misconduct.”
Jackson’s involvement with the boy was welcomed, at first, by all the adults in the youth’s life—his mother, his stepfather and even his biological father, Evan Chandler (who also declined to be interviewed for this article). Born Evan Robert Charmatz in the Bronx in 1944, Chandler had reluctantly followed in the footsteps of his father and brothers and become a dentist. “He hated being a dentist,” a family friend says. “He always wanted to be a writer.” After moving in 1973 to West Palm Beach to practice dentistry, he changed his last name, believing Charmatz was “too Jewish-sounding,” says a former colleague. Hoping somehow to become a screenwriter, Chandler moved to Los Angeles in the late Seventies with his wife, June Wong, an attractive Eurasian who had worked briefly as a model.
Chandler’s dental career had its precarious moments. In December 1978, while working at the Crenshaw Family Dental Center, a clinic in a low-income area of L.A., Chandler did restoration work on sixteen of a patient’s teeth during a single visit. An examination of the work, the Board of Dental Examiners concluded, revealed “gross ignorance and/or inefficiency” in his profession. The board revoked his license; however, the revocation was stayed, and the board instead suspended him for ninety days and placed him on probation for two and a half years. Devastated, Chandler left town for New York. He wrote a film script but couldn’t sell it.
Months later, Chandler returned to L.A. with his wife and held a series of dentistry jobs. By 1980, when their son was born, the couple’s marriagewas in trouble. “One of the reasons June left Evan was because of his temper,” a family friend says. They divorced in 1985. The court awarded sole custody of the boy to his mother and ordered Chandler to pay $500 a month in child support, but a review of documents reveals that in 1993, when the Jackson scandal broke, Chandler owed his ex-wife $68,000—a debt she ultimately forgave.
A year before Jackson came into his son’s life, Chandler had a second serious professional problem. One of his patients, a model, sued him for dental negligence after he did restoration work on some of her teeth. Chandler claimed that the woman had signed a consent form in which she’d acknowledged the risks involved. But when Edwin Zinman, her attorney, asked to see the original records, Chandler said they had been stolen from the trunk of his Jaguar. He provided a duplicate set. Zinman, suspicious, was unable to verify the authenticity of the records. “What an extraordinary coincidence that they were stolen,” Zinman says now. “That’s like saying ‘The dog ate my homework.’ ” The suit was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Despite such setbacks, Chandler by then had a successful practice in Beverly Hills. And he got his first break in Hollywood in 1992, when he cowrote the Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Until Michael Jackson entered his son’s life, Chandler hadn’t shown all that much interest in the boy. “He kept promising to buy him a computer so they could work on scripts together, but he never did,” says Michael Freeman, formerly an attorney for June Chandler Schwartz. Chandler’s dental practice kept him busy, and he had started anew family by then, with two small children by his second wife, a corporate attorney.
At first, Chandler welcomed and encouraged his son’s relationship with Michael Jackson, bragging about it to friends and associates. When Jackson and the boy stayed with Chandler during May 1993, Chandler urged the entertainer to spend more time with his son at his house. According to sources, Chandler even suggested that Jackson build an addition onto the house so the singer could stay there. After calling the zoning department and discovering it couldn’t be done, Chandler made another suggestion—that Jackson just build him a new home.
That same month, the boy, his mother and Jackson flew to Monaco for the World Music Awards. “Evan began to get jealous of the involvement and felt left out,” Freeman says. Upon their return, Jackson and the boy again stayed with Chandler, which pleased him—a five-day visit, during which they slept in a room with the youth’s half brother. Though Chandler has admitted that Jackson and the boy always had their clothes on whenever he saw them in bed together, he claimed that it was during this time that his suspicions of sexual misconduct were triggered. At no time has Chandler claimed to have witnessed any sexual misconduct on Jackson’s part.
Chandler became increasingly volatile, making threats that alienated Jackson, Dave Schwartz and June Chandler Schwartz. In early July 1993, Dave Schwartz, who had been friendly with Chandler, secretly tape-recorded a lengthy telephone conversation he had with him. During the conversation, Chandler talked of his concern for his son and his anger at Jackson and at his ex-wife, whom he described as “cold and heartless.” When Chandler tried to “get her attention” to discuss his suspicions about Jackson, he says on the tape, she told him “Go fuck yourself.”
“I had a good communication with Michael,” Chandler told Schwartz. “We were friends. I liked him and I respected him and everything else for what he is. There was no reason why he had to stop calling me. I sat in the room one day and talked to Michael and told him exactly what I want out of this whole relationship. What I want.”
Admitting to Schwartz that he had “been rehearsed” about what to say and what not to say, Chandler never mentioned money during their conversation. When Schwartz asked what Jackson had done that made Chandler so upset, Chandler alleged only that “he broke up the family. [The boy] has been seduced by this guy’s power and money.” Both men repeatedly berated themselves as poor fathers to the boy.
Elsewhere on the tape, Chandler indicated he was prepared to move against Jackson: “It’s already set,” Chandler told Schwartz. “There are other people involved that are waiting for my phone call that are in certain positions. I’ve paid them to do it. Everything’s going according to a certain plan that isn’t just mine. Once I make that phone call, this guy [his attorney, Barry K. Rothman, presumably] is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it. And I’ve given him full authority to do that.”
Chandler then predicted what would, in fact, transpire six weeks later: “And if I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I’ve checked that inside out. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. June will lose [custody of the son]…and Michael’s career will be over.”
“Does that help [the boy]?” Schwartz asked.
“That’s irrelevant to me,” Chandler replied. “It’s going to be bigger than all of us put together. The whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight. It will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want.”
Instead of going to the police, seemingly the most appropriate action in a situation involving suspected child molestation, Chandler had turned to a lawyer. And not just any lawyer. He’d turned to Barry Rothman.
“This attorney I found, I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find,” Chandler said in the recorded conversation with Schwartz. “All he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can, and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s very smart, and he’s hungry for the publicity.” (Through his attorney, Wylie Aitken, Rothman declined to be interviewed for this article. Aitken agreed to answer general questions limited to the Jackson case, and then only about aspects that did not involve Chandler or the boy.)
To know Rothman, says a former colleague who worked with him during the Jackson case, and who kept a diary of what Rothman and Chandler said and did in Rothman’s office, is to believe that Barry could have “devised this whole plan, period. This [making allegations against Michael Jackson] is within the boundary of his character, to do something like this.” Information supplied by Rothman’s former clients, associates and employees reveals a pattern of manipulation and deceit.
Rothman has a general-law practice in Century City. At one time, he negotiated music and concert deals for Little Richard, the Rolling Stones, the Who, ELO and Ozzy Osbourne. Gold and platinum records commemorating those days still hang on the walls of his office. With his grayish-white beard and perpetual tan—which he maintains in a tanning bed at his house—Rothman reminds a former client of “a leprechaun.” To a former employee, Rothman is “a demon” with “a terrible temper.” His most cherished possession, acquaintances say, is his 1977 Rolls-Royce Corniche, which carries the license plate “BKR 1.”
Over the years, Rothman has made so many enemies that his ex-wife once expressed, to her attorney, surprise that someone “hadn’t done him in.” He has a reputation for stiffing people. “He appears to be a professional deadbeat… He pays almost no one,” investigator Ed Marcus concluded (in a report filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, as part of a lawsuit against Rothman), after reviewing the attorney’s credit profile, which listed more than thirty creditors and judgment holders who were chasing him. In addition, more than twenty civil lawsuits involving Rothman have been filed in Superior Court, several complaints have been made to the Labor Commission and disciplinary actions for three incidents have been taken against him by the state bar of California. In 1992, he was suspended for a year, though that suspension was stayed and he was instead placed on probation for the term.
In 1987, Rothman was $16,800 behind in alimony and child-support payments. Through her attorney, his ex-wife, Joanne Ward, threatened to attach Rothman’s assets, but he agreed to make good on the debt. A year later, after Rothman still hadn’t made the payments, Ward’s attorney tried to put a lien on Rothman’s expensive Sherman Oaks home. To their surprise, Rothman said he no longer owned the house;three years earlier, he’d deeded the property to Tinoa Operations, Inc., a Panamanian shell corporation. According to Ward’s lawyer, Rothman claimed that he’d had $200,000 of Tinoa’s money, in cash, at his house one night when he was robbed at gunpoint. The only way he could make good on the loss was to deed his home to Tinoa, he told them. Ward and her attorney suspected the whole scenario was a ruse, but they could never prove it. It was only after sheriff’s deputies had towed away Rothman’s Rolls Royce that he began paying what he owed.
Documents filed with Los Angeles Superior Court seem to confirm the suspicions of Ward and her attorney. These show that Rothman created an elaborate network of foreign bank accounts and shell companies, seemingly to conceal some of his assets—in particular, his home and much of the $531,000 proceeds from its eventual sale, in 1989. The companies, including Tinoa, can be traced to Rothman. He bought a Panamanian shelf company (an existing but nonoperating firm) and arranged matters so that though his name would not appear on the list of its officers, he would have unconditional power of attorney, in effect leaving him in control of moving money in and out.
Meanwhile, Rothman’s employees didn’t fare much better than his ex-wife. Former employees say they sometimes had to beg for their paychecks. And sometimes the checks that they did get would bounce. He couldn’t keep legal secretaries. “He’d demean and humiliate them,” says one. Temporary workers fared the worst. “He would work them for two weeks,” adds the legal secretary, “then run them off by yelling at them and saying they were stupid. Then he’d tell the agency he was dissatisfied with the temp and wouldn’t pay.” Some agencies finally got wise and made Rothman pay cash up front before they’d do business with him.
The state bar’s 1992 disciplining of Rothman grew out of a conflict-of-interest matter. A year earlier, Rothman had been kicked off a case by a client, Muriel Metcalf, whom he’d been representing in child-support and custody proceedings; Metcalf later accused him of padding her bill. Four months after Metcalf fired him, Rothman, without notifying her, began representing the company of her estranged companion, Bob Brutzman.
The case is revealing for another reason: It shows that Rothman had some experience dealing with child-molestation allegations before the Jackson scandal. Metcalf, while Rothman was still representing her, had accused Brutzman of molesting their child (which Brutzman denied). Rothman’s knowledge of Metcalf’s charges didn’t prevent him from going to work for Brutzman’s company—a move for which he was disciplined.
By 1992, Rothman was running from numerous creditors. Folb Management, a corporate real-estate agency, was one. Rothman owed the company $53,000 in back rent and interest for an office on Sunset Boulevard. Folb sued. Rothman then countersued, claiming that the building’s security was so inadequate that burglars were able to steal more than $6,900 worth of equipment from his office one night. In the course of the proceedings, Folb’s lawyer told the court, “Mr. Rothman is not the kind of person whose word can be taken at face value.”
In November 1992, Rothman had his law firm file for bankruptcy, listing thirteen creditors—including Folb Management—with debts totaling $880,000 and no acknowledged assets. After reviewing the bankruptcy papers, an ex-client whom Rothman was suing for $400,000 in legal fees noticed that Rothman had failed to list a $133,000 asset. The former client threatened to expose Rothman for “defrauding his creditors”—a felony—if he didn’t drop the lawsuit. Cornered, Rothman had the suit dismissed in a matter of hours.
Six months before filing for bankruptcy, Rothman had transferred title on his Rolls-Royce to Majo, a fictitious company he controlled. Three years earlier, Rothman had claimed a different corporate owner for the car—Longridge Estates, a subsidiary of Tinoa Operations, the company that held the deed to his home. On corporation papers filed by Rothman, the addresses listed for Longridge and Tinoa were the same, 1554 Cahuenga Boulevard—which, as it turns out, is that of a Chinese restaurant in Hollywood.
It was with this man, in June 1993, that Evan Chandler began carrying out the “certain plan” to which he referred in his taped conversation with Dave Schwartz. At a graduation that month, Chandler confronted his ex-wife with his suspicions. “She thought the whole thing was baloney,” says her ex-attorney, Michael Freeman. She told Chandler that she planned to take their son out of school in the fall so they could accompany Jackson on his “Dangerous” world tour. Chandler became irate and, say several sources, threatened to go public with the evidence he claimed he had on Jackson. “What parent in his right mind would want to drag his child into the public spotlight?” asks Freeman. “If something like this actually occurred, you’d want to protect your child.”
Jackson asked his then-lawyer, Bert Fields, to intervene. One of the most prominent attorneys in the entertainment industry, Fields has been representing Jackson since 1990 and had negotiated for him, with Sony, the biggest music deal ever—with possible earnings of $700 million. Fields brought in investigator Anthony Pellicano to help sort things out. Pellicano does things Sicilian-style, being fiercely loyal to those he likes but a ruthless hardball player when it comes to his enemies.
Given the facts about sodium Amytal and a recent landmark case that involved the drug, the boy’s allegations, say several medical experts, must be viewed as unreliable, if not highly questionable.“It’s a psychiatric medication that cannot be relied on to produce fact.”
On July 9, 1993, Dave Schwartz and June Chandler Schwartz played the taped conversation for Pellicano. “After listening to the tape for ten minutes, I knew it was about extortion,” says Pellicano. That same day, he drove to Jackson’s Century City condominium, where Chandler’s son and the boy’s half-sister were visiting. Without Jackson there, Pellicano “made eye contact” with the boy and asked him, he says, “very pointed questions”: “Has Michael ever touched you? Have you ever seen him naked in bed?” The answer to all the questions was no. The boy repeatedly denied that anything bad had happened. On July 11, after Jackson had declined to meet with Chandler, the boy’s father and Rothman went ahead with another part of the plan—they needed to get custody of the boy. Chandler asked his ex-wife to let the youth stay with him for a “one-week visitation period.” As Bert Fields later said in an affidavit to the court, June Chandler Schwartz allowed the boy to go based on Rothman’s assurance to Fields that her son would come back to her after the specified time, never guessing that Rothman’s word would be worthless and that Chandler would not return their son.
Wylie Aitken, Rothman’s attorney, claims that “at the time [Rothman] gave his word, it was his intention to have the boy returned.” However, once “he learned that the boy would be whisked out of the country [to go on tour with Jackson], I don’t think Mr. Rothman had any other choice.” But the chronology clearly indicates that Chandler had learned in June, at the graduation, that the boy’s mother planned to take her son on the tour. The taped telephone conversation made in early July, before Chandler took custody of his son, also seems to verify that Chandler and Rothman had no intention of abiding by the visitation agreement. “They [the boy and his mother] don’t know it yet,” Chandler told Schwartz, “but they aren’t going anywhere.”
On July 12, one day after Chandler took control of his son, he had his ex-wife sign a document prepared by Rothman that prevented her from taking the youth out of Los Angeles County. This meant the boy would be unable to accompany Jackson on the tour. His mother told the court she signed the document under duress. Chandler, she said in an affidavit, had threatened that “I would not have [the boy] returned to me.” A bitter custody battle ensued, making even murkier any charges Chandler made about wrong-doing on Jackson’s part. (As of this August , the boy was still living with Chandler.) It was during the first few weeks after Chandler took control of his son—who was now isolated from his friends, mother and stepfather—that the boy’s allegations began to take shape.
At the same time, Rothman, seeking an expert’s opinion to help establish the allegations against Jackson, called Dr. Mathis Abrams, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist. Over the telephone, Rothman presented Abrams with a hypothetical situation. In reply and without having met either Chandler or his son, Abrams on July 15 sent Rothman a two-page letter in which he stated that “reasonable suspicion would exist that sexual abuse may have occurred.” Importantly, he also stated that if this were a real and not a hypothetical case, he would be required by law to report the matter to the Los Angeles County Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
According to a July 27 entry in the diary kept by Rothman’s former colleague, it’s clear that Rothman was guiding Chandler in the plan. “Rothman wrote letter to Chandler advising him how to report child abuse without liability to parent,” the entry reads.
At this point, there still had been made no demands or formal accusations, only veiled assertions that had become intertwined with a fierce custody battle. On August 4, 1993, however, things became very clear. Chandler and his son met with Jackson and Pellicano in a suite at the Westwood Marquis Hotel. On seeing Jackson, says Pellicano, Chandler gave the singer an affectionate hug (a gesture, some say, that would seem to belie the dentist’s suspicions that Jackson had molested his son), then reached into his pocket, pulled out Abrams’s letter and began reading passages from it. When Chandler got to the parts about child molestation, the boy, says Pellicano, put his head down and then looked up at Jackson with a surprised expression, as if to say “I didn’t say that.” As the meeting broke up, Chandler pointed his finger at Jackson, says Pellicano, and warned “I’m going to ruin you.”
At a meeting with Pellicano in Rothman’s office later that evening, Chandler and Rothman made their demand – $20 million.
On August 13, there was another meeting in Rothman’s office. Pellicano came back with a counteroffer—a $350,000 screenwriting deal. Pellicano says he made the offer as a way to resolve the custody dispute and give Chandler an opportunity to spend more time with his son by working on a screenplay together. Chandler rejected the offer. Rothman made a counterdemand—a deal for three screenplays or nothing—which was spurned. In the diary of Rothman’s ex-colleague, an August 24 entry reveals Chandler’s disappointment: “I almost had a $20 million deal,” he was overheard telling Rothman.
Before Chandler took control of his son, the only one making allegations against Jackson was Chandler himself—the boy had never accused the singer of any wrongdoing. That changed one day in Chandler’s Beverly Hills dental office.
In the presence of Chandler and Mark Torbiner, a dental anesthesiologist, the boy was administered the controversial drug sodium Amytal—which some mistakenly believe is a truth serum. And it was after this session that the boy first made his charges against Jackson. A newsman at KCBS-TV, in L.A., reported on May 3 of this year that Chandler had used the drug on his son, but the dentist claimed he did so only to pull his son’s tooth and that while under the drug’s influence, the boy came out with allegations. Asked for this article about his use of the drug on the boy, Torbiner replied: “If I used it, it was for dental purposes.”
Given the facts about sodium Amytal and a recent landmark case that involved the drug, the boy’s allegations, say several medical experts, must be viewed as unreliable, if not highly questionable.
“It’s a psychiatric medication that cannot be relied on to produce fact,” says Dr. Resnick, the Cleveland psychiatrist. “People are very suggestible under it. People will say things under sodium Amytal that are blatantly untrue.” Sodium Amytal is a barbiturate, an invasive drug that puts people in a hypnotic state when it’s injected intravenously. Primarily administered for the treatment of amnesia, it first came into use during World War II, on soldiers traumatized—some into catatonic states—by the horrors of war. Scientific studies done in 1952 debunked the drug as a truth serum and instead demonstrated its risks: False memories can be easily implanted in those under its influence. “It is quite possible to implant an idea through the mere asking of a question,” says Resnick. But its effects are apparently even more insidious: “The idea can become their memory, and studies have shown that even when you tell them the truth, they will swear on a stack of Bibles that it happened,” says Resnick.
Recently, the reliability of the drug became an issue in a high-profile trial in Napa County, California. After undergoing numerous therapy sessions, at least one of which included the use of sodium Amytal, 20-year-old Holly Ramona accused her father of molesting her as a child. Gary Ramona vehemently denied the charge and sued his daughter’s therapist and the psychiatrist who had administered the drug. This past May, jurors sided with Gary Ramona, believing that the therapist and the psychiatrist may have reinforced memories that were false. Gary Ramona’s was the first successful legal challenge to the so-called “repressed memory phenomenon” that has produced thousands of sexual-abuse allegations over the past decade.
As for Chandler’s story about using the drug to sedate his son during a tooth extraction, that too seems dubious, in light of the drug’s customary use. “It’s absolutely a psychiatric drug,” says Dr. Kenneth Gottlieb, a San Francisco psychiatrist who has administeredsodium Amytal to amnesia patients. Dr. John Yagiela, the coordinator of the anesthesia and pain control department of UCLA’s school of dentistry, adds, “It’s unusual for it to be used [for pulling a tooth]. It makes no sense when better, safer alternatives are available. It would not be my choice.”
Because of sodium Amytal’s potential side effects, some doctors will administer it only in a hospital. “I would never want to use a drug that tampers with a person’s unconscious unless there was no other drug available,” says Gottlieb. “And I would not use it without resuscitating equipment, in case of allergic reaction, and only with an M.D. anesthesiologist present.”
Chandler, it seems, did not follow these guidelines. He had the procedure performed on his son in his office, and he relied on the dental anesthesiologist Mark Torbiner for expertise. (It was Torbiner who’d introduced Chandler and Rothman in 1991, when Rothman needed dental work.)
The nature of Torbiner’s practice appears to have made it highly successful. “He boasts that he has $100 a month overhead and $40,000 a month income,” says Nylla Jones, a former patient of his. Torbiner doesn’t have an office for seeing patients; rather, he travels to various dental offices around the city, where he administers anesthesia during procedures.
This magazine has learned that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is probing another aspect of Torbiner’s business practices: He makes housecalls to administer drugs—mostly morphine and Demerol—not only postoperatively to his dental patients but also, it seems, to those suffering pain whose source has nothing to do with dental work. He arrives at the homes of his clients—some of them celebrities—carrying a kind of fishing-tackle box that contains drugs and syringes. At one time, the license plate on his Jaguar read “SLPYDOC.” According to Jones, Torbiner charges $350 for a basic ten-to-twenty-minute visit. In what Jones describes as standard practice, when it’s unclear how long Torbiner will need to stay, the client, anticipating the stupor that will soon set in, leaves a blank check for Torbiner to fill in with the appropriate amount.
Torbiner wasn’t always successful. In 1989, he got caught in a lie and was asked to resign from UCLA, where he was an assistant professor at the school of dentistry. Torbiner had asked to take a half-day off so he could observe a religious holiday but was later found to have worked at a dental office instead.
A check of Torbiner’s credentials with the Board of Dental Examiners indicates that he is restricted by law to administering drugs solely for dental-related procedures. But there is clear evidence that he has not abided by those restrictions. In fact, on at least eight occasions, Torbiner has given a general anesthetic to Barry Rothman, during hair-transplant procedures. Though normally a local anesthetic would be injected into the scalp, “Barry is so afraid of the pain,” says Dr. James De Yarman, the San Diego physician who performed Rothman’s transplants, “that [he] wanted to be put out completely.” De Yarman said he was “amazed” to learn that Torbiner is a dentist, having assumed all along that he was an M.D.
In another instance, Torbiner came to the home of Nylla Jones, she says, and injected her with Demerol to help dull the pain that followed her appendectomy.
On August 16, three days after Chandler and Rothman rejected the $350,000 script deal, the situation came to a head. On behalf of June Chandler Schwartz, Michael Freeman notified Rothman that he would be filing papers early the next morning that would force Chandler to turn over the boy. Reacting quickly, Chandler took his son to Mathis Abrams, the psychiatrist who’d provided Rothman with his assessment of the hypothetical child-abuse situation. During a three-hour session, the boy alleged that Jackson had engaged in a sexual relationship with him. He talked of masturbation, kissing, fondling of nipples and oral sex. There was, however, no mention of actual penetration, which might have been verified by a medical exam, thus providing corroborating evidence.
The next step was inevitable. Abrams, who is required by law to report any such accusation to authorities, called a social worker at the Department of Children’s Services, who in turn contacted the police. The full-scale investigation of Michael Jackson was about to begin.
Five days after Abrams called the authorities, the media got wind of the investigation. On Sunday morning, August 22, Don Ray, a free-lance reporter in Burbank, was asleep when his phone rang. The caller, one of his tipsters, said that warrants had been issued to search Jackson’s ranch and condominium. Ray sold the story to L.A.’s KNBC-TV, which broke the news at 4 P.M. the following day.
After that, Ray “watched this story go away like a freight train,” he says. Within twenty-four hours, Jackson was the lead story on seventy-three TV news broadcasts in the Los Angeles area alone and was on the front page of every British newspaper. The story of Michael Jackson and the 13-year-old boy became a frenzy of hype and unsubstantiated rumor, with the line between tabloid and mainstream media virtually eliminated.
The extent of the allegations against Jackson wasn’t known until August 25. A person inside the DCS illegally leaked a copy of the abuse report to Diane Dimond of Hard Copy. Within hours, the L.A. office of a British news service also got the report and began selling copies to any reporter willing to pay $750. The following day, the world knew about the graphic details in the leaked report. “While laying next to each other in bed, Mr. Jackson put his hand under [the child’s] shorts,” the social worker had written. From there, the coverage soon demonstrated that anything about Jackson would be fair game.
“Competition among news organizations became so fierce,” says KNBC reporter Conan Nolan, that “stories weren’t being checked out. It was very unfortunate.” The National Enquirer put twenty reporters and editors on the story. One team knocked on 500 doors in Brentwood trying to find Evan Chandler and his son. Using property records, they finally did, catching up with Chandler in his black Mercedes. “He was not a happy man. But I was,” said Andy O’Brien, a tabloid photographer.
Next came the accusers—Jackson’s former employees. First, Stella and Philippe Lemarque, Jackson’ ex-housekeepers, tried to sell their story to the tabloids with the help of broker Paul Barresi, a former porn star. They asked for as much as half a million dollars but wound up selling an interview to The Globe of Britain for $15,000. The Quindoys, a Filipino couple who had worked at Neverland, followed. When their asking price was $100,000, they said ” ‘the hand was outside the kid’s pants,’ ” Barresi told a producer of Frontline, a PBS program. “As soon as their price went up to $500,000, the hand went inside the pants. So come on.” The L.A. district attorney’s office eventually concluded that both couples were useless as witnesses.
Next came the bodyguards. Purporting to take the journalistic high road, Hard Copy’s Diane Dimond told Frontline in early November of last year that her program was “pristinely clean on this. We paid no money for this story at all.” But two weeks later, as a Hard Copy contract reveals, the show was negotiating a $100,000 payment to five former Jackson security guards who were planning to file a $10 million lawsuit alleging wrongful termination of their jobs.
On December 1, with the deal in place, two of the guards appeared on the program; they had been fired, Dimond told viewers, because “they knew too much about Michael Jackson’s strange relationship with young boys.” In reality, as their depositions under oath three months later reveal, it was clear they had never actually seen Jackson do anything improper with Chandler’s son or any other child:
“So you don’t know anything about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?” one of Jackson’s attorneys asked former security guard Morris Williams under oath.
“All I know is from the sworn documents that other people have sworn to.”
“But other than what someone else may have said, you have no firsthand knowledge about Mr. Jackson and [the boy], do you?”
“Have you spoken to a child who has ever told you that Mr. Jackson did anything improper with the child?”
When asked by Jackson’s attorney where he had gotten his impressions, Williams replied: “Just what I’ve been hearing in the media and what I’ve experienced with my own eyes.”
“Okay. That’s the point. You experienced nothing with your own eyes, did you?”
“That’s right, nothing.”
(The guards’ lawsuit, filed in March 1994, was still pending as this article went to press.)
[NOTE: The case was thrown out of court in July 1995.]
Next came the maid. On December 15, Hard Copy presented “The Bedroom Maid’s Painful Secret.” Blanca Francia told Dimond and other reporters that she had seen a naked Jackson taking showers and Jacuzzi baths with young boys. She also told Dimond that she had witnessed her own son in compromising positions with Jackson—an allegation that the grand juries apparently never found credible.
A copy of Francia’s sworn testimony reveals that Hard Copy paid her $20,000, and had Dimond checked out the woman’s claims, she would have found them to be false. Under deposition by a Jackson attorney, Francia admitted she had never actually see Jackson shower with anyone nor had she seen him naked with boys in his Jacuzzi. They always had their swimming trunks on, she acknowledged.
The coverage, says Michael Levine, a Jackson press representative, “followed a proctologist’s view of the world. Hard Copy was loathsome. The vicious and vile treatment of this man in the media was for selfish reasons. [Even] if you have never bought a Michael Jackson record in your life, you should be very concerned. Society is built on very few pillars. One of them is truth. When you abandon that, it’s a slippery slope.”
The investigation of Jackson, which by October 1993 would grow to involve at least twelve detectives from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, was instigated in part by the perceptions of one psychiatrist, Mathis Abrams, who had no particular expertise in child sexual abuse. Abrams, the DCS caseworker’s report noted, “feels the child is telling the truth.” In an era of widespread and often false claims of child molestation, police and prosecutors have come to give great weight to the testimony of psychiatrists, therapists and social workers.
Police seized Jackson’s telephone books during the raid on his residences in August and questioned close to thirty children and their families. Some, such as Brett Barnes and Wade Robson, said they had shared Jackson’s bed, but like all the others, they gave the same response—Jackson had done nothing wrong. “The evidence was very good for us,” says an attorney who worked on Jackson’s defense. “The other side had nothing but a big mouth.”
Despite the scant evidence supporting their belief that Jackson was guilty, the police stepped up their efforts. Two officers flew to the Philippines to try to nail down the Quindoys’ “hand in the pants” story, but apparently decided it lacked credibility. The police also employed aggressive investigative techniques—including allegedly telling lies—to push the children into making accusations against Jackson. According to several parents who complained to Bert Fields, officers told them unequivocally that their children had been molested, even though the children denied to their parents that anything bad had happened. The police, Fields complained in a letter to Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams, “have also frightened youngsters with outrageous lies, such as ‘We have nude photos of you.’ There are, of course, no such photos.” One officer, Federico Sicard, told attorney Michael Freeman that he had lied to the children he’d interviewed and told them that he himself had been molested as a child, says Freeman. Sicard did not respond to requests for an interview for this article.
All along, June Chandler Schwartz rejected the charges Chandler was making against Jackson—until a meeting with police in late August 1993. Officers Sicard and Rosibel Ferrufino made a statement that began to change her mind. “[The officers] admitted they only had one boy,” says Freeman, who attended the meeting, “but they said, ‘We’re convinced Michael Jackson molested this boy because he fits the classic profile of a pedophile perfectly.’ ”
“There’s no such thing as a classic profile. They made a completely foolish and illogical error,” says Dr. Ralph Underwager, a Minneapolis psychiatrist who has treated pedophiles and victims of incest since 1953. Jackson, he believes, “got nailed” because of “misconceptions like these that have been allowed to parade as fact in an era of hysteria.” In truth, as a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study shows, many child-abuse allegations—48 percent of those filed in 1990 —proved to be unfounded.
“It was just a matter of time before someone like Jackson became a target,” says Phillip Resnick. “He’s rich, bizarre, hangs around with kids and there is a fragility to him. The atmosphere is such that an accusation must mean it happened.”
The seeds of settlement were already being sown as the police investigation continued in both counties through the fall of 1993. And a behind-the-scenes battle among Jackson’s lawyers for control of the case, which would ultimately alter the course the defense would take, had begun.
By then, June Chandler Schwartz and Dave Schwartz had united with Evan Chandler against Jackson. The boy’s mother, say several sources, feared what Chandler and Rothman might do if she didn’t side with them. She worried that they would try to advance a charge against her of parental neglect for allowing her son to have sleepovers with Jackson. Her attorney, Michael Freeman, in turn, resigned in disgust, saying later that “the whole thing was such a mess. I felt uncomfortable with Evan. He isn’t a genuine person, and I sensed he wasn’t playing things straight.”
Over the months, lawyers for both sides were retained, demoted and ousted as they feuded over the best strategy to take. Rothman ceased being Chandler’s lawyer in late August, when the Jackson camp filed extortion charges against the two. Both then hired high-priced criminal defense attorneys to represent them.. (Rothman retained Robert Shapiro, now O.J. Simpson’s chief lawyer.) According to the diary kept by Rothman’s former colleague, on August 26, before the extortion charges were filed, Chandler was heard to say “It’s my ass that’s on the line and in danger of going to prison.” The investigation into the extortion charges was superficial because, says a source, “the police never took it that seriously. But a whole lot more could have been done.” For example, as they had done with Jackson, the police could have sought warrants to search the homes and offices of Rothman and Chandler. And when both men, through their attorneys, declined to be interviewed by police, a grand jury could have been convened.
“It was just a matter of time before someone like Jackson became a target. He’s rich, bizarre [and] hangs around with kids…
In mid-September, Larry Feldman, a civil attorney who’d served as head of the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association, began representing Chandler’s son and immediately took control of the situation. He filed a $30 million civil lawsuit against Jackson, which would prove to be the beginning of the end.
Once news of the suit spread, the wolves began lining up at the door. According to a member of Jackson’s legal team, “Feldman got dozens of letters from all kinds of people saying they’d been molested by Jackson. They went through all of them trying to find somebody, and they found zero.”
With the possibility of criminal charges against Jackson now looming, Bert Fields brought in Howard Weitzman, a well-known criminal-defense lawyer with a string of high-profile clients—including John DeLorean, whose trail he won, and Kim Basinger, whose Boxing Helena contract dispute he lost. (Also, for a short time this June, Weitzman was O.J. Simpson’s attorney.) Some predicted a problem between the two lawyers early on. There wasn’t room for two strong attorneys used to running their own show.
From the day Weitzman joined Jackson’s defense team, “he was talking settlement,” says Bonnie Ezkenazi, an attorney who worked for the defense. With Fields and Pellicano still in control of Jackson’s defense, they adopted an aggressive strategy. They believed staunchly in Jackson’s innocence and vowed to fight the charges in court. Pellicano began gathering evidence to use in the trial, which was scheduled for March 21, 1994. “They had a very weak case,” says Fields. “We wanted to fight. Michael wanted to fight and go through a trial. We felt we could win.”
Dissension within the Jackson camp accelerated on November 12, after Jackson’s publicist announced at a press conference that the singer was canceling the remainder of his world tour to go into a drug-rehabilitation program to treat his addiction to painkillers. Fields later told reporters that Jackson was “barely able to function adequately on an intellectual level.” Others in Jackson’s camp felt it was a mistake to portray the singer as incompetent. “It was important,” Fields says, “to tell the truth. [Larry] Feldman and the press took the position that Michael was trying to hide and that it was all a scam. But it wasn’t.”
On November 23, the friction peaked. Based on information he says he got from Weitzman, Fields told a courtroom full of reporters that a criminal indictment against Jackson seemed imminent. Fields had a reason for making the statement: He was trying to delay the boy’s civil suit by establishing that there was an impending criminal case that should be tried first. Outside the courtroom, reporters asked why Fields had made the announcement, to which Weitzman replied essentially that Fields “misspoke himself.” The comment infuriated Fields, “because it wasn’t true,” he says. “It was just an outrage. I was very upset with Howard.” Fields sent a letter of resignation to Jackson the following week.
“There was this vast group of people all wanting to do a different thing, and it was like moving through molasses to get a decision,” says Fields. “It was a nightmare, and I wanted to get the hell out of it.” Pellicano, who had received his share of flak for his aggressive manner, resigned at the same time.
With Fields and Pellicano gone, Weitzman brought in Johnnie Cochran Jr., a well-known civil attorney who is now helping defend O.J. Simpson. And John Branca, whom Fields had replaced as Jackson’s general counsel in 1990, was back on board. In late 1993, as DAs in both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties convened grand juries to assess whether criminal charges should be filed against Jackson, the defense strategy changed course and talk of settling the civil case began in earnest, even though his new team also believed in Jackson’s innocence.
Why would Jackson’s side agree to settle out of court, given his claims of innocence and the questionable evidence against him? His attorneys apparently decided there were many factors that argued against taking the case to civil court. Among them was the fact that Jackson’s emotional fragility would be tested by the oppressive media coverage that would likely plague the singer day after day during a trial that could last as long as six months. Politics and racial issues had also seeped into legal proceedings—particularly in Los Angeles, which was still recovering from the Rodney King ordeal—and the defense feared that a court of law could not be counted on to deliver justice. Then, too, there was the jury mix to consider. As one attorney says, “They figured that Hispanics might resent [Jackson] for his money, blacks might resent him for trying to be white, and whites would have trouble getting around the molestation issue.” In Resnick’s opinion, “The hysteria is so great and the stigma [of child molestation] is so strong, there is no defenseagainst it.”
Jackson’s lawyers also worried about what might happen if a criminal trial followed, particularly in Santa Barbara, which is a largely white, conservative, middle-to-upper-class community. Any way the defense looked at it, a civil trial seemed too big a gamble. By meeting the terms of a civil settlement, sources say, the lawyers figured they could forestall a criminal trial through a tacit understanding that Chandler would agree to make his son unavailable to testify.
Others close to the case say the decision to settle also probably had to do with another factor—the lawyers’ reputations. “Can you imagine what would happen to an attorney who lost the Michael Jackson case?” says Anthony Pellicano. “There’s no way for all three lawyers to come out winners unless they settle. The only person who lost is Michael Jackson.” But Jackson, says Branca, “changed his mind about [taking the case to trial] when he returned to this country. He hadn’t seen the massive coverage and how hostile it was. He just wanted the whole thing to go away.”
On the other side, relationships among members of the boy’s family had become bitter. During a meeting in Larry Feldman’s office in late 1993, Chandler, a source says, “completely lost it and beat up Dave [Schwartz].” Schwartz, having separated from June by this time, was getting pushed out of making decisions that affected his stepson, and he resented Chandler for taking the boy and not returning him.
“Dave got mad and told Evan this was all about extortion, anyway, at which point Evan stood up, walked over and started hitting Dave,” a second source says.
To anyone who lived in Los Angeles in January 1994, there were two main topics of discussion—the earthquake and the Jackson settlement. On January 25, Jackson agreed to pay the boy an undisclosed sum. The day before, Jackson’s attorneys had withdrawn the extortion charges against Chandler and Rothman.
The actual amount of the settlement has never been revealed, although speculation has placed the sum around $20 million. One source says Chandler and June Chandler Schwartz received up to $2 million each, while attorney Feldman might have gotten up to 25 percent in contingency fees. The rest of the money is being held in trust for the boy and will be paid out under the supervision of a court-appointed trustee.
“Remember, this case was always about money,” Pellicano says, “and Evan Chandler wound up getting what he wanted.” Since Chandler still has custody of his son, sources contend that logically this means the father has access to any money his son gets.
By late May 1994, Chandler finally appeared to be out of dentistry. He’d closed down his Beverly Hills office, citing ongoing harassment from Jackson supporters. Under the terms of the settlement, Chandler is apparently prohibited from writing about the affair, but his brother, Ray Charmatz, was reportedly trying to get a book deal.
In what may turn out to be the never-ending case, this past August, both Barry Rothman and Dave Schwartz (two principal players left out of the settlement) filed civil suits against Jackson. Schwartz maintains that the singer broke up his family. Rothman’s lawsuit claims defamation and slander on the part of Jackson, as well as his original defense team—Fields, Pellicano and Weitzman—for the allegations of extortion. “The charge of [extortion],” says Rothman attorney Aitken, “is totally untrue. Mr. Rothman has been held up for public ridicule, was the subject of a criminal investigation and suffered loss of income.” (Presumably, some of Rothman’s lost income is the hefty fee he would have received had he been able to continue as Chandler’s attorney through the settlement phase.)
As for Michael Jackson, “he is getting on with his life,” says publicist Michael Levine. Now married, Jackson also recently recorded three new songs for a greatest-hits album and completed a new music video called “History.”
And what became of the massive investigation of Jackson? After millions of dollars were spent by prosecutors and police departments in two jurisdictions, and after two grand juries questioned close to 200 witnesses, including 30 children who knew Jackson, not a single corroborating witness could be found. (In June 1994, still determined to find even one corroborating witness, three prosecutors and two police detectives flew to Australia to again question Wade Robson, the boy who had acknowledged that he’d slept in the same bed with Jackson. Once again, the boy said that nothing bad had happened.)
The sole allegations leveled against Jackson, then, remain those made by one youth, and only after the boy had been give a potent hypnotic drug, leaving him susceptible to the power of suggestion.
“I found the case suspicious,” says Dr. Underwager, the Minneapolis psychiatrist, “precisely because the only evidence came from one boy. That would be highly unlikely. Actual pedophiles have an average of 240 victims in their lifetime. It’s a progressive disorder. They’re never satisfied.”
Given the slim evidence against Jackson, it seems unlikely he would have been found guilty had the case gone to trial. But in the court of public opinion, there are no restrictions. People are free to speculate as they wish, and Jackson’s eccentricity leaves him vulnerable to the likelihood that the public has assumed the worst about him.
So is it possible that Jackson committed no crime—that he is what he has always purported to be, a protector and not a molester of children? Attorney Michael Freeman thinks so: “It’s my feeling that Jackson did nothing wrong and these people [Chandler and Rothman] saw an opportunity and programmed it. I believe it was all about money.”
To some observers, the Michael Jackson story illustrates the dangerous power of accusation, against which there is often no defense—particularly when the accusations involve child sexual abuse. To others, something else is clear now—that police and prosecutors spent millions of dollars to create a case whose foundation never existed.
Excerpt from “The Nation in the Mirror” Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. Iss. 977/978 New York:
Ostensibly a story about bringing a child molester to justice, the Michael Jackson trial would instead be a kind of homecoming parade of insipid American types grifters, suckers and no-talent schemers, mired in either outright unemployment… or the bogus non-careers of the information age, looking to cash in any way they can.The MC of the proceedings was District Attorney Tom Sneddon, whose metaphorical role in this American reality show was to represent the mean gray heart of the Nixonian Silent Majority – the bitter mediocrity itching to stick it to anyone who’d ever taken a vacation to Paris. The first month or so of the trial featured perhaps the most compromised collection of prosecution witnesses ever assembled in an American criminal case – almost to a man a group of convicted liars, paid gossip hawkers or worse. The early witnesses against Jackson included a bodyguard who missed court because he was in custody facing charges stemming from a series of armed robberies, including holding up a Jack in the Box at gunpoint; a former Neverland maid who’d stolen a sketch Jackson had made of Elvis Presley and sold it to the tabloids for thirty grand; another former employee who’d lost a wrongful-termination suit against Jackson and had to pay part of a $1.4 million settlement as a result.
And then there was the very key figure in the case, the accuser’s mother, who had to plead the Fifth Amendment on the first day of her testimony to avoid cross-examination on a welfare-fraud allegation – a witness so completely full of sh—t that Sneddon’s own assistants cringed openly throughout most of her five days of testimony. In the next six weeks, virtually every piece of his case imploded in open court, and the chief drama of the trial quickly turned into a race to see if the DA could manage to put all of his witnesses on the stand without getting any of them removed from the courthouse in manacles.
Sneddon’s hard-on for Jackson was a faith-based vengeance grab every bit as blind and desperate as George Bush’s “case” against Saddam Hussein. If Ahmad Chalabi had ever been to Neverland, Sneddon would have put him on the stand too.
His case was bullsh—t. California vs. Jackson turned out to be basically a tale of a family of low-rent grifters trying to lay a criminal-molestation charge on a rich celebrity as a prelude to a civil suit.
Δημοσιογράφος μιλάει για τη δίκη του Μάικλ Τζάκσον το 2005 : ” Η οικογένεια αποτελούνταν από απατεώνες, ο εισαγγελέας είχε προσωπική βεντέτα ,τα Μέσα ηθελημένα δεν μετέδωσαν τα πραγματικά γεγονότα.
Part One (Πρώτο Μέρος)
The Facts About the 2003 Child Molestation Allegations Against Michael Jackson
The Anatomy of a Scam
In January 2000, a woman named Janet Arvizo consulted with a civil lawyer about suing Michael Jackson for having allegedly molested her son.1 This would have been the second child molestation lawsuit filed against Jackson, the first being the result of sexual abuse allegations that were made by a 13-year-old boy in 1993.
The problem, however, is that in January 2000, Janet Arvizo had never met Michael Jackson; neither had her son. In fact, it would still be another seven months before Jackson would even be introduced to the Arvizo family.
Three years after their initial meeting in August 2000, Janet Arvizo’s son accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse; the pop star is currently preparing to fight these claims in court. During a recent pre-trial hearing, Arvizo’s plans to sue Michael Jackson before she had even met him were made public by Jackson’s lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. According to Mesereau, Arvizo had revealed this information to investigators in June 2003, when she and her children first made accusations against Jackson.2
Did Janet Arvizo set out to meet Michael Jackson with the intention of eventually filing a child abuse lawsuit against him? And if they were aware of Arvizo’s potential motives before they arrested and charged Jackson, why did authorities choose to go forward with the case?
The following report takes an in-depth look at the Arvizo family, their history of making sexual abuse allegations for personal gain, their attempts to cash in on their connection to Michael Jackson and, finally, their involvement with several major players from the 1993 child molestation case against Jackson.
BEFORE THE BEGINNING
Prior to accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation, the Arvizo family had been involved in two other sexual abuse cases. In 1998, Janet Arvizo, her husband David and their three children Davellin, Gavin and Star accused security guards from JCPenney and Tower Records of physically assaulting them after pulling them over for shoplifting.
Two years after filing a $3 million lawsuit against the companies, Janet Arvizo also accused the security guards of sexually assaulting her during the altercation, an allegation that had never come up in her initial deposition. The companies settled out of court for $152,500 without admitting guilt.3
Tom Griffin, the attorney who represented JCPenney in the case, told NBC’s Mike Taibbi that the Arvizo family had no evidence to substantiate their claims. “[The mother] just came up with this fairy tale, not a fairy tale, it’s a horror story, and just ran with it,”4 Griffin said.
A psychiatrist hired by JCPenney during the investigation said that the children’s testimonies sounded scripted and rehearsed,5 a suspicion that was confirmed by their father. In an affidavit, David Arvizo admitted that the children had been coached by their mother to lie. According to Russell Halpern, an attorney for Mr. Arvizo, “[The mother] wrote all of their testimony. I actually saw the script.”6
Halpern was hired when a bitter custody battle arose between the Arvizos following their divorce in 2001. The dispute took an unexpected turn when Janet Arvizo accused her ex-husband of being abusive, an allegation that was initially denied by the couple’s three children.
In October 2001, social workers were called to investigate the Arvizo family following an altercation that had taken place in their home. When questioned on their own, the children did not allude to any abuse on the father’s part. “There was no hitting, just yelling, and not a lot of yelling,” the children told social workers.
When Janet Arvizo returned home and discovered that the Department of Children and Family Services had interviewed her children without her there, she immediately got in contact with the agency. Social workers returned to the family’s apartment and interviewed the Arvizos again. In the presence of their mother, the children drastically changed their story, alleging that their father was indeed abusive.
In the follow-up report, David Arvizo is accused of kicking Davellin and allegedly breaking her tailbone, hitting Star in the head and punching him in the stomach, slapping one of Gavin’s scars while it was still in the process of healing and holding Janet Arvizo’s head under water. The children alleged that their father had threatened to have them killed if they ever told anybody about the purported abuse.7
Janet Arvizo further claimed that her ex-husband had molested and falsely imprisoned their daughter 12 years earlier, allegations that only materialized during the custody battle. According to court documents, Mrs. Arvizo “could not provide any other pertinent information regarding [the alleged molestation].”8 Years later, Janet Arvizo and her children would level similar allegations against Michael Jackson.
David Arvizo pleaded no-contest to the charges and was barred from seeing his children as a result. During an interview on Larry King Live, Russell Halpern, who is currently trying to obtain visitation rights for his client, discussed court documents that indicate that the abuse allegations against the father were false.
“[Janet] was specifically asked, “did he ever hit you?” and she said “no” and then she elaborated by saying he was a wonderful husband, he had never touched her, he didn’t have it in him to touch a woman and he had never touched the children, never as far as even spanking the kids.”9
In court papers that were later filed during the custody proceedings, Janet Arvizo painted a startlingly different picture of her ex-husband, claiming that her children were terrified of him. “Every single night, one of my sons barricades the front door by putting two chairs in front of the door,” she alleged. “He also puts a boogie board and an archery arrow against the front door… Both boys sleep with baseball bats.”10
How can Janet Arvizo’s conflicting statements regarding her ex-husband be explained? It should be noted that the allegations against the children’s father only materialized in October 2001 ,exactly one month before the Arvizos were set to receive a $152,500 settlement from JCPenney.
The above incidents lend credence to the defense theory that Janet Arvizo has a propensity for telling contradictory stories, coaching her children to lie and using abuse allegations for her own personal gain.
JACKSON MEETS HIS ACCUSER
But just how did Michael Jackson, arguably one of the most famous entertainers on the planet, get involved with the troubled Arvizo family?
Four years ago, Janet Arvizo’s oldest son Gavin, a recovering cancer patient, made a request through the Make a Wish Foundation to meet Michael Jackson. Jackson obliged and eventually formed a friendship with the boy and his family. Mrs. Arvizo characterized her children’s relationship with the singer as a “loving father, sons and daughters one,” even crediting Jackson with helping Gavin overcome his bout with cancer.11
Court documents reveal that this was not the first time that the Arvizos had used the boy’s cancer as a way to get close to celebrities. According to a report filed by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: “Mom said that they met the celebrities due to her son’s illness and that the celebrities are very supportive of her son and their family.”
Janet Arvizo also told a caseworker that through her son’s cancer, she had “found ways to get things for her kids,”12 a claim that is supported by the following stories.
In late 2000, a local newspaper ran an article about the Arvizo family after Mrs. Arvizo told the editors about her son’s plight with cancer. “She pleaded her case that her son needed all sorts of medical care and they had no financial means to provide it,” recalls editor Connie Keenan. At Mrs. Arvizo’s request, Keenan asked her readers to donate money to help the family pay for Gavin Arvizo’s cancer treatments. The newspaper managed to raise a total of $965 for the Arvizo family, money that Mrs. Arvizo wanted to have “sent to her in her name, at her home address.”
Investigative reporter Harvey Levin later revealed that all of Gavin Arvizo’s medical bills were covered by insurance. “There were no medical bills,” Levin reported. “The father of this boy was covered, the entire family covered, by insurance, one hundred percent. They didn’t have to pay a cent.” Evidently, Mrs. Arvizo had lied to the newspaper, using her son’s illness as a means to con readers into giving her money.
When interviewed by Celebrity Justice, Connie Keenan expressed outrage over Mrs. Arvizo’s actions. “My readers were used. My staff was used. It’s sickening.”13
A similar incident occured less than a year later. In October 2001, Gavin and Star Arvizo were cutting class when two members of the Los Angeles Police Department approached them. When the officers asked the children why they were not in school, Star began to cry and explained that they were on their way to the hospital to visit their mother who had just undergone surgery. The officers took pity on the boys and offered to drive them.
On route, Gavin announced to the officers that he had just had a 16-pound tumour, his spleen and his kidney removed; he then proceeded to show them his scars.
Coincidentally, the same officers ran into Janet Arvizo several weeks later. Mrs. Arvizo informed them that she was unemployed and on her way to a job interview. Deciding that they needed to help the Arvizos, the officers bought the family Christmas dinner, presents, ornaments for their tree (which had been donated to them by another group of officers) and school supplies.14
While the officers involved deserve to be commended for their generosity, it remains to be seen why the Arvizos were accepting money and gifts from strangers less than a month after receiving a six figure out of court settlement from JCPenney.
Just like the LAPD officers, Jackson got involved with the Arvizo family because he “felt bad.” In an interview with journalist Ed Bradley, Jackson explained that he simply wanted to give Gavin “a chance to have a life, he was told he was going to die, they told his parents [to] prepare for his funeral, that’s how bad it was. And I put him on a program. I’ve helped many children doing this. I put him on a mental program.”15
In February 2003, John Arvizo was featured in Living with Michael Jackson, a British documentary on Jackson’s life. While journalist Martin Bashir’s interview with Gavin briefly touched on the positive influence that Jackson had had on the boy’s recovery, the focus of the interview shifted when Gavin announced – seemingly out of nowhere – that he had once spent the night in Jackson’s bedroom.
“There was one night, I asked him if I could stay in the bedroom and he let me stay in the bedroom,” Gavin told Bashir. Jackson quickly pointed out that the boy, accompanied by his younger brother, had slept in Jackson’s bed while Jackson slept in a sleeping bag on the floor.16
Regardless, this scene – along with Jackson’s claim that there is nothing inappropriate about falling asleep next to a child – led to a firestorm of controversy.
As the public outcry against Michael Jackson reached a fevered pitch, sexual abuse allegations that had been made against the singer ten years earlier would soon come back to haunt him.
The media backlash that accompanied the February 2003 airing of Martin Bashir’s documentary reached its pinnacle when a past scandal involving Jackson and child molestation allegations resurfaced. In 1993, a 13-year-old boy named Jordan Chandler had accused the singer of sexual abuse. Several days after Living with Michael Jackson aired, the boy’s graphic deposition from that case was released on the Internet.17 Many felt that given the nature of those allegations, it was highly inappropriate for Jackson to be sharing his bedroom with children.
Although Jackson was never criminally charged in 1993, it is a widely known fact that he settled a civil lawsuit that had been filed against him by Jordan Chandler and his parents. The boy then refused to testify against Jackson, leading many to believe that his silence had been bought. Court documents reveal, however, that the settlement did not prevent the Chandlers from testifying against Jackson in a criminal trial; it was their own decision not to cooperate with authorities.18
Upon viewing the Living with Michael Jackson documentary, Sneddon saw an opportunity to re-open the case. In a press statement released on February 5, 2003, Sneddon said: “After conversations with Sheriff Jim Anderson, it was agreed that the BBC broadcast would be taped by the Sheriff’s Department. It is anticipated that it will be reviewed.” Regarding Jackson’s comments that he had allowed children to sleep in his bedroom, Sneddon replied by saying that it was, “unusual at best. For this reason, all local departments having responsibility in this are taking the matter seriously.”
Elsewhere in the statement, Sneddon stressed the fact that the case could not go forward without a “cooperative victim.”28 Coincidentally, the very same boy who appeared in the documentary would later become Jackson’s second accuser.
Sneddon was not the only principal player from the 1993 case who came out of the woodwork after the airing of the Bashir documentary. In February 2003, the Chandler’s former civil attorney Gloria Allred made numerous television appearances where she demanded that Jackson’s children be removed from his custody.29
Larry Feldman, the civil lawyer who negotiated the $15 million settlement on behalf of the Chandlers in 1994, also spoke to the press, vehemently denying that his office was responsible for leaking Jordan Chandler’s deposition.30
Finally, in a salacious Dateline NBC special entitled Michael Jackson Unmasked, Bill Dworin, a retired LAPD officer who had worked on the Jackson case and Ray Chandler, the uncle of Jackson’s accuser, spoke to correspondent Josh Mankiewicz. Both Dworin and Chandler claimed that there was strong evidence to prove Jackson’s guilt in the 1993 case.31
According to the defense, it was during this time that the Arvizo family began to cause problems within the Jackson camp. The family’s alleged suspicious behaviour coupled with the public relations disaster that ensued after the airing of Living with Michael Jackson prompted Jackson to hire criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos.
THE ARVIZOS GO ON RECORD
“I was brought in [in February 2003] when somebody wisely, in retrospect, felt that there was something wrong here with this particular family,” Michael Jackson’s former defense attorney Mark Geragos explained during an interview on Larry King Live. “We put a plan into action in terms of investigating and documenting things because people suspected that something was going to happen.”
The “plan” involved getting the Arvizos to sign numerous affidavits where they swore that nothing inappropriate had ever happened between Gavin Arvizo and Michael Jackson. Geragos also had his Private Investigator make video and audio recordings of the Arvizo family defending Jackson.32
The prosecution would later claim that the Arvizos were intimidated into making these statements33 but testimony from Janet Arvizo’s husband Jay Jackson seems to contradict this theory. According to Jay Jackson, the Arvizos were at his house, not Michael Jackson’s, when Gerago’s Private Investigator interviewed them.34
Jackson’s former videographer Christian Robinson recalls taping another interview with the Arvizo family where he repeatedly asked them whether or not Jackson had done anything wrong. “They were very up front and they of course said absolutely not. All of them. I’d ask them one thing and it’s almost like they were getting mad at me, [saying] “why are you asking us this? Michael is innocent.”35
Journalist Ed Bradley had a similar experience with the Arvizo family when he visited Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in February 2003. “We sat in the kitchen having coffee and doughnuts and sodas and [Janet Arvizo] and the kids said they were willing to go on television to say what a great person Michael Jackson was.”36
In addition to making positive statements about Jackson to his defense team and to his employees, the Arvizos also denied any wrong doing on Jackson’s part to social workers throughout February 2003.
AUTHORITIES GET INVOLVED
Prompted by what was shown on the Living with Michael Jackson documentary, a school official contacted the Department of Children and Family Services and requested that they investigate Jackson. From February 14th to February 27th, 2003, social workers interviewed the Arvizos, who all maintained that Jackson had never acted inappropriately around them. Mrs. Arvizo stated that her children had never been left alone with Jackson and that they had never slept in a bed with him.37
Another investigation was launched when media psychiatrist Carole Lieberman filed a complaint with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department in February 2003. She asked for Jackson to be investigated and also demanded that his children be removed from his custody. “Bubbles the Chimp [Jackson’s former pet] is reportedly now living in an animal sanctuary. One would wonder how and why that came about. If Mr. Jackson is unable to take good enough care of his pet chimpanzee, shouldn’t you be concerned about his children?”
About the boy in the documentary, Lieberman noted: “There was an unmistakable sense that something sexual had occurred with [the boy], as evidenced by his body language and his submissive demeanour towards Michael.”38
The SBCSD investigated and closed the case on April 16th with “no further action required.” The SBCSD report cites interviews with the Arvizos that were conducted by three Los Angeles social workers. According to the alleged victim: “Michael is like a father to me, he’s never done anything to me sexually.” He added that he had “never slept in bed with Michael,” and that his mother was “always aware of what goes on in Neverland.”
Janet Arvizo told social workers that: “Michael is like a father to my children, he loves them and I trust my children with him.” Of Jackson, she said he had “never been anything but wonderful. My children have never felt uncomfortable in his presence. Michael has been a blessing.” The boy’s older sister also defended Jackson saying, “Michael is so kind and loving.”39
How did the Arvizo family go from praising Jackson to making such serious allegations against him?
If we are to believe the prosecution’s version of events, Jackson’s employees intimidated the Arvizo family into defending Jackson to social workers, Private Investigators, journalists and virtually every other person who had come into contact with the family after Living with Michael Jackson aired. Once Jackson had all of their statements on record, he then molested the boy.
But if Michael Jackson is telling the truth, the family only made accusations against him when their other attempts to get money from him failed.
NOT AFTER MONEY?
After the airing of the Bashir interview, Janet Arvizo and her then-boyfriend Jay Jackson made several attempts to cash in on their connection to Michael Jackson. They sold their story to a British tabloid but, at that point, only had positive things to say about the pop star.40 Janet Arvizo seemed outraged by people’s reaction to Bashir’s documentary and filed an official complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Commission.41
Janet Arvizo also planned to file a lawsuit against the company that aired the documentary and, in February 2003, hired civil lawyer William Dickerman to represent her in the case. Dickerman told ABC News: “[The boy] had been on camera, there had been no consent given and when she found out about it, she was absolutely livid.”42
Michael Jackson seemed equally angered by the tone of the documentary and began compiling footage for a rebuttal video. To counter the negative publicity surrounding his relationships with children, Jackson had Gavin Arvizo and his family film interviews where they made statements in the pop star’s defense. The footage was supposed to be included in the rebuttal video but Jay Jackson demanded financial compensation in return for the family’s participation.
During a pre-trial hearing, Jackson recalled saying to one of Michael Jackson’s associates: “This family has nothing and you’re making millions from [the rebuttal video] and what are you going to do for this little family?” To appease Jay Jackson, the associate offered the family a house and the children a college education in exchange for their permission to use the footage. Jackson refused the offer, instead making a demand for money.
Jay Jackson also testified that in February 2003, he was approached by two British journalists who were interested in paying for the family’s story.43 According to one of the journalists who got in contact with the family, “The starting figure was $500 from myself, and that’s supposedly when [Jackson] consulted with the mother.” Jackson came back with a demand for $15,000 and was turned away.44
When their attempts to cash in on the post-Bashir controversy failed, the Arvizo family filed for emergency help in March 2003. Court documents reveal that a week later, Janet Arvizo filed for an increase in alimony from her ex-husband and asked for her child support to be doubled.45
Shortly after, she returned to Dickerman with plans to sue Michael Jackson for an issue unrelated to child molestation.
Dickerman began writing a series of letters to Mark Geragos, claiming that Jackson was in possession of some of the family’s belongings including furniture and passports. Dickerman demanded the return of these items and also alleged that the family was being “harassed” and “terrorized” by Mark Geragos’ Private Investigator Bradley Miller.46 It would be months before the Arvizo family would take these claims to the police.
While the letters were seemingly sent to assist the Arvizos in getting their furniture and passports back, it appears that Dickerman was more interested in gaining access to any evidence that could potentially prove Jackson’s innocence if the family were to later accuse the pop star of child molestation.
In a letter dated March 26, 2003, Dickerman wrote: “The Arvizos demand that Jackson immediately provide the originals and all copies of all tapes, films and audio recordings” that were made by or on behalf of Jackson” and return to them the papers they have signed including” documents in connection with the legal action in Britain concerning Living with Michael Jackson and anything else bearing their signatures.”47
While the relationship between Michael Jackson and the Arvizos had obviously become contentious after the airing of the Bashir documentary, they maintained all along that Jackson had never sexually abused the boy. That all changed in May 2003, when Larry Feldman – the civil lawyer who brokered a $15 million settlement for Jackson’s first accuser – entered the picture.
ENTER: LARRY FELDMAN
After meeting with Larry Feldman, the civil lawyer who had represented Michael Jackson’s first accuser, Gavin Arvizo finally came forward with the sexual abuse allegations against the pop star; his younger brother Star backed up his story, claiming to have witnessed the alleged abuse. Feldman sent the boys to see psychiatrist Stan Katz, who had also been involved in the 1993 case.
According to documents obtained by NBC, Dr. Katz told Gavin Arvizo, “Look, if you go ahead with this civil lawsuit, your family will get money if they win.” Suddenly, lurid details about the alleged abuse began to materialize. Gavin Arvizo claimed that while at Neverland he “drank alcohol every night and got buzzed.” When he told Jackson that his head hurt, he was supposedly told to: “keep drinking, it will make it feel better.”
Star Arvizo alleged that he and his brother “constantly sleep in Michael’s room with Michael, in Michael’s bed.” He claimed to have witnessed Jackson touch his brother inappropriately on at least two separate occasions.48
These were the same children who, less than four months earlier, had vehemently defended Jackson to social workers. For some reason, after all of their previous denials of abuse on Jackson’s part, the Arvizo children drastically changed their story after getting involved with Feldman and Katz, two key players from the 1993 case against Jackson.
Feldman visited the Department of Children and Family Services and asked them to overturn their “unfounded” ruling from February 2003. The DCFS refused, saying that because the boy was not in immediate danger, there was nothing else they could do.49 Dr. Katz then reported the alleged abuse to the Santa Barbara Police Department who subsequently launched an investigation in June 2003.
In addition to having been involved with both Jordan Chandler and Gavin Arvizo, Dr. Katz had another connection to the Jackson case : his list of patients also included Bradley Miller, the Private Investigator who had been hired by Mark Geragos to keep an eye on the Arvizo family throughout February 2003.
Katz told authorities about Miller’s involvement in the case and also informed them about a tape that Miller had made of the family defending Jackson in mid-February.50 In what appears to be a highly unusual move, Santa Barbara authorities then asked the accuser’s stepfather Jay Jackson to help them investigate Miller. Working as a “confidential agent,” Jackson was sent to scope out the location of Miller’s office and report his findings back to the SBPD.51
After five months of investigating, the Santa Barbara Police Department was ready to go forward with its case. But first, the Arvizo family would have to agree to put their civil lawsuit on hold and go forward with the criminal case against Michael Jackson.
JACKSON IS ARRESTED AND CHARGED
In June 2003, Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon began to personally investigate the Arvizo family’s claims against Michael Jackson. In a police interview, Janet Arvizo alleged that Jackson’s employees had relentlessly victimized her and her family. In one instance, Jackson’s representatives allegedly showed up at the Arvizo’s apartment and demanded that the family move to Brazil. “One of the reasons was because there was [sic] people that were gonna kill the children and me, mostly my children,” Mrs. Arvizo told investigators.
Janet Arvizo believed that the true motive behind the alleged proposed trip was to prevent the family from speaking to investigators.
She further claimed that Jackson had begun to spy on her when he felt that she was asking too many questions about his alleged relationship with her son. “One time I remember the kids telling me that up on the top of the hill, there’s like a little, like, a thing. And Michael had taken up the kids up there to look in my bedroom. Like a telescope thing and I thought they were kidding. Michael wanted to see what I was doing in there.”
When Mrs. Arvizo eventually tried to put an end to her son’s alleged relationship with Michael Jackson, the boy supposedly shot her in her pinkie toe with a BB gun.
During the interview, Janet Arvizo assured investigators that she was not after Michael Jackson’s money. “God handpicked me and the kids because he knew that we weren’t going to fall for any of their money. That it was going to be justice more than anything.”52 On the contrary, notes from the boy’s therapist reveal that at the time, the Arvizos were planning to file a lawsuit against Jackson with the help of civil attorney Larry Feldman.53
Their plans to sue the pop star, however, would have to wait; after 1993, Sneddon amended California law so that if civil and criminal proceedings arose over the same allegation, the civil proceedings would be stayed until after the criminal case was resolved.54 Consequently, if the family had chosen to go forward with their lawsuit, the proceedings would have remained inactive until the statute of limitations in the criminal case expired.
While it would be years before the Arvizo family could seek monetary damages from Jackson in court, Sneddon informed them of a state victim’s fund that would provide them with financial compensation if they persisted with the allegations. In November, Sneddon met with Janet Arvizo in an empty parking lot to provide her with the necessary paperwork to apply for the fund.55 Less than a month later, the case went forward.
Gavin Arvizo and his family provided authorities with a fifty-page affidavit detailing their allegations. In addition to the child molestation accusations, the Arvizos also claimed that they had been held hostage at Jackson’s Neverland ranch for several weeks in February 2003, the same month throughout which the family had made numerous attempts to cash in on their connection to Jackson.56 Using the affidavit to show probable cause, Sneddon obtained a warrant for Michael Jackson’s arrest as well as a warrant to search Neverland Ranch.
After raiding Neverland on November 18th, 2003, authorities also searched the office of Mark Geragos’ Private Investigator Bradley Miller and the home of Jackson’s former videographer Hamid Moslehi. During the raid of Moslehi’s home, Sneddon confiscated a tape that featured footage of the accusing family praising Jackson.
The contents of the tape would present a problem for the prosecution: the interview with the family was conducted in February 2003 but according to the family’s affidavit, Jackson had molested the boy and kidnapped the family that very same month.57 Having access to this tape gave Sneddon an opportunity to familiarize himself with Jackson’s defense strategy, which would most likely centre on the Arvizo family’s inconsistent statements.
In spite of this evidence, Sneddon continued with the case. On November 19, he held a press conference where his behaviour led many to believe that he had a grudge against Michael Jackson stemming from the 1993 case. Despite the serious nature of the allegations, Sneddon and Sheriff Jim Anderson created a jovial atmosphere by making several jokes at Jackson’s expense.58
After Jackson was arrested, Sneddon gave an exclusive interview to tabloid reporter Diane Dimond where he referred to the pop star as “Jacko Wacko” but strongly denied having a vendetta against him.59 He later apologized for his comments, saying, “If my mom was still alive she would take me to task for not being a good person.”60
On December 18th, 2003, Jackson was charged with 7 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 and 2 counts of administering an intoxicating agent. These alleged acts took place on or between February 7th and March 10th.61
As soon as the charges against Jackson were filed, many inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case were revealed. The Arvizo family’s litigious past, for example, immediately became the focus of much media attention. The general public learned about the accusations that Janet Arvizo had levelled against JCPenney and her ex-husband, as well as her alleged history of coaching her children to lie under oath.
Many also began to question the timing of the supposed abuse. According to the charges, the alleged molestation began on February 7th the day after Martin Bashir’s Living with Michael Jackson documentary aired in the United States. Many found it implausible that Jackson would have started to molest the boy while in the midst of a huge scandal involving him and past accusations of child abuse.
Furthermore, both the Department of Children and Family Services and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department had investigated Jackson in February 2003 and concluded based on their interviews with the Arvizos that no abuse had taken place. It seems unlikely that Jackson could have molested the boy while being investigated for suspected child abuse by two separate government agencies.
But perhaps the most damning blow to the prosecution’s case was Mark Gerago’s claim that Jackson had an alibi. “The timeline is ridiculous. Michael has a concrete, ironclad alibi for the dates they are saying this abuse took place. The fact of the matter is, no abuse ever happened.”62
To overcome these inconsistencies, Tom Sneddon made several changes to the charges against Jackson.
JACKSON CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY TO KIDNAP
Although Tom Sneddon had officially filed a criminal complaint against Michael Jackson in December 2003, he later brought his case in front of a grand jury, which resulted in a new 10-count indictment. The new charges indicate that either the Arvizos drastically changed their story or Tom Sneddon intentionally made alterations to his case in order to make the accusations appear more logical.
On April 30th, 2004, Jackson was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, four counts of administering an intoxicating agent, one count of attempted child molestation and one count of conspiracy. These alleged acts took place on or between February 20th and March 12th 2003.63
According to the original complaint, the sexual abuse timeline began on February 7th. A memo from the Department of Children and Family Services, however, reveals that on February 20th, the entire family defended Jackson to social workers and maintained that he had never even been alone with the boy. Based on these statements, it seems highly unlikely that any abuse occurred between February 7th and February 20th. In the new set of charges, these three weeks have disappeared from the timeline. The abuse is now alleged to have begun after February 20th, rendering the family’s initial statements to social workers irrelevant.
Another notable difference in the accuser’s story – besides the shift in the timeline and the change in the amount of times he was allegedly abused – is that the charges in the complaint state that Gavin Arvizo was only given alcohol twice, indicating that he was sober throughout most of the occurrences of alleged abuse. The charges in the indictment, however, suggest that the boy was intoxicated throughout every incidence of alleged abuse.
The most questionable change, however, is that the conspiracy allegation was not included in the original charges. In the indictment, Jackson is accused of 28 overt acts of conspiracy including child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.64 The prosecution alleges that Jackson conspired with five unnamed employees to kidnap the Arvizo family and force them into making positive statements on his behalf. According to prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss, Jackson did this to improve his public image after the airing of the Living with Michael Jackson documentary.65 He then allegedly molested the boy.
As a result of the conspiracy charge, the prosecution can now attempt to discredit all of Jackson’s exculpatory evidence. The Arvizo family’s previous denials of abuse, for example, can be justified by the allegation that the family was forced to defend him.
Secondly, testimony from potential defense witnesses who may have observed erratic or suspicious behaviour on the part of the Arvizos can now be discredited by the charge that Jackson’s associates were involved in a criminal conspiracy against the family.
Finally, if Jackson does have an alibi for all of the dates of the purported abuse, the prosecution can simply claim that the alibi was also involved in the supposed conspiracy.
To the average observer, the allegations against Michael Jackson might now appear consistent but to those who have followed the case closely, the question remains why the charges only took their current form after Jackson’s defense strategy was revealed to the prosecution.
Although the major discrepancies in Sneddon’s case have been eradicated, there are still several problems with the charges against Jackson, particularly with the allegation that he held the Arvizo family hostage at Neverland throughout February and March 2003.
According to Janet Arvizo’s divorce attorney Michael Manning, his client was still praising Michael Jackson as late as May 2003. “He was really good to us”- that’s what she said at the time,” Manning recalled. “If it turned sour, I don’t know how.”66
Another problem with the conspiracy allegation is that although five of Jackson’s associates were allegedly involved in the kidnapping of the family, Jackson is the only one who has been charged with a crime. The five alleged co-conspirators remain un-indicted and have all been offered immunity if they agree to testify against Jackson.
Joe Tacopina, an attorney for one of the accused co-conspirators, insists that his client has rejected Sneddon’s offer of immunity and maintains that the Arvizo family’s claims are ludicrous.
“If [Mrs. Arvizo] were being held hostage, then I guess during one of her shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive she could have told a store manager while she was buying a thousand-dollar dress,” Tacopina told the Santa Barbara News Press.67 In another interview, Tacopina claimed that the kidnapping allegations “are going to fall by the wayside when tested, when challenged, when examined under cross examination, there are documents out there that will absolutely shred these allegations.”68
An attorney for another alleged co-conspirator had a similar story to tell. “From what [my client] saw, [the Arvizos] were certainly in no way under any type of duress,” Michael Bachner told a reporter. “They freely went around to speak to whomever they wanted. They went shopping. They made phone calls. They did everything free people do.”69
Ron Konitzer, a former employee of Jackson’s who is now accused of conspiring against the Arvizos, insists that innocent facts have been twisted to fit the prosecution’s version of events. “It was a very natural development of events and a normal professional move that has been taken out of context,” Konitzer said of the measures that were taken to restore Jackson’s image after Living with Michael Jackson aired, measures that are now being used by the prosecution as evidence of a conspiracy.
“There was no cover-up,” Konitzer continued. “We were working around the clock at the ranch for 10 days in a row – with my family even there – and I can tell you the one thing I remember is a bunch of kids running around and having fun. There was nothing I saw that even resembled anything near imprisonment.”70
Even testimony from Janet Arvizo’s husband seems to contradict the family’s claims of kidnapping. Jay Jackson testified that Janet Arvizo and her children had returned to Neverland several times in April 2003 one month after the conspiracy timeline ended. “She somehow or another got back there,” Jackson told the court.71
If Michael Jackson had kidnapped the family in February 2003, why was Janet Arvizo still praising the pop star in May 2003? Why did she return to Neverland after allegedly being held hostage there? Why did it take her three months to contact the police? Why did she contact a civil lawyer first?
Another aspect of the case that has come into question is the behaviour of the authorities involved. Recently, Jackson’s defense team challenged the indictment, alleging that the prosecution engaged in excessive misconduct throughout the grand jury proceedings. In a 126-page motion filed by the defense, Sneddon is accused of bullying witnesses, failing to properly present exculpatory evidence, refusing to let the jurors question the prosecution witnesses and providing the jurors with a false legal definition of the term “conspiracy.”
According to the motion: “There is simply no evidence that Mr. Jackson had the specific intent to agree or conspire with anyone about anything.”
To support this contention, the defense pointed out that a key witness to the alleged conspiracy had never even met Jackson. Transcripts reveal that when she testified, the witness, who was employed by Jackson for ten days in February 2003, answered questions with responses such as : “I’m not sure,” “I guess,” “I assume,” “I don’t know exactly” and “I think.” 72
It was also revealed that Sneddon used Jackson’s predilection for a clean household to support the conspiracy allegation. The motion reads: “It is simply not reasonable to infer that Mr. Jackson’s preference for a well run household demonstrates the specific intent to commit crimes. Evidence that Mr. Jackson would complain to his staff when household chores were not done properly is not evidence that he was directing a criminal conspiracy.”73
In another motion, the defense charged that because Private Investigator Bradley Miller worked for Jackson’s former defense attorney Mark Geragos, the evidence taken from his office during the November 18th raid is protected by attorney-client privilege. Although Sneddon admittedly told Jackson’s defense team that he was aware of Miller’s professional relationship with Geragos at the time of the raid, he later retracted his confession, claiming it was a “mistake borne out of being upset and angry.”74 Judge Rodney Melville ruled in favour of the prosecution, deeming the raid on Miller’s office legal despite the fact that Jackson’s attorney-client privileges had been violated.75
According to the defense team: “There is no case in the history of the state of California that has condoned anything like the abuse of power demonstrated in this grand jury proceeding.”76
The question still remains, however, why a veteran prosecutor would risk his reputation by filing such dubious charges, especially when the case in question has garnered unprecedented media attention. Does Sneddon truly believe that Michael Jackson is guilty of the crimes of which he has been accused or are there other motives involved in his relentless pursuit of the pop star? A careful examination of these questions reveals a sordid pattern of greed, corruption and blackmail within the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office.
Tom Sneddon – A Strange Obsession
PATTERN OF ABUSE
When it comes to political corruption in Santa Barbara, anyone familiar with the workings of this county knows that nothing happens without the tacit approval of the good District Attorney Tom Sneddon. Often referred to as “the single most powerful person in all of Santa Barbara County,”1) his admirers point to the fact that he has run unopposed for the last six terms as evidence of his beloved status. Butterball sidekick Jim Thomas, former sheriff of Santa Barbara, defends him, insisting: “Tom Sneddon is and has always been an aggressive prosecutor, which is why he’s been re-elected so many times unopposed.”2) To understand the method of Tom Sneddon and how he operates, one only needs to consider the testimony of several persons who have borne the wrath of his prosecutorial obsession.
One of the worst examples of such behavior is Sneddon’s attack on Santa Maria attorney Gary Dunlap. Sneddon had charged Dunlap with a slew of charges including perjury and witness tampering. After being acquitted of all charges, Dunlap filed a $10 million lawsuit against Sneddon and his hood of bandits for violating his civil rights during the investigation.3 In an interview with the highly respected MJJForum, Dunlap leveled a number of serious charges against Sneddon and those in his office. This gentleman has been a practicing attorney in the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara area for nearly forty years and is not pulling stories of horrific prosecutorial misconduct out of his behind. In fact, a number of persons who do not even know each other are claiming the exact same thing with tangible proof of said misconduct. Among the many charges that Dunlap levelled against Sneddon:
§ Sneddon and the law enforcement officials assigned to Dunlap’s investigation performed illegal searches and seizures. “Well, they engaged in a sting operation, which they manufactured and allowed to get out of hand, and it essentially became just a real witch hunt. There were a number of violations of my rights in the investigatory stage as well as during the prosecution stage.”
§ Stacking charges against defendants. “I don’t know if you realize how difficult it is when they throw the kitchen sink at you, I mean, when they throw seven felonies against you, how difficult it is to get an acquittal on all charges. You know, I mean it’s one thing to be charged with one crime and have a trial and be acquitted on it, but the District Attorney in Santa Barbara has a policy that if they throw enough charges against you, the jury is bound to convict you on something.” Sneddon’s kitchen sink manufacturer must be working overtime, tossing sinks at the Michael Jackson case like friends toss Krispy Kreme donuts at Rosie O’Donnell.
§ Intimidation of officials whom they cannot control. …But in one instance there is a gentleman in Santa Maria who had announced his candidacy for a public office and shortly thereafter he was illegally detained by sheriff’s deputies on what were pretty clearly bogus charges, and instead of the District Attorney acknowledging that, the District Attorney attempted to cover up the police officers’ excessive force by filing charges against him and attempted to prosecute him on those charges and essentially ruined his opportunity to run for public office. He ultimately sued the District Attorney as well as the law enforcement officers and won a judgment in the federal court for several thousand dollars and several hundred thousand dollars in attorney’s fees. 4) This particular story from Dunlap sounds remarkably similar to Bill Wegener’s experiences. Is it any wonder that Dunlap is suing Sneddon and his cronies?
JUDGE DIANA HALL
Intimidating foes he can no longer control is a particular talent for Sneddon. Just ask Judge Diana Hall. When the judge “ran” for the bench (more on that later), she was actually seen as an ally to the Sneddon regime but for whatever reason, that changed and so did Sneddon’s approach to dealing with her. In September 2003, Hall was convicted of misdemeanor drunk driving but was cleared of the more serious charges that had been brought against her such as brandishing a weapon and battery. While Hall’s legal troubles had seemingly come to an end with the resolution of the trial, her contentious relationship with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office would only intesify when she was later accused of election funding fraud.
During the 2002 re-election bid, Hall’s ex-lover Deidre Dykeman had donated an unreported $20,000 to Hall’s campaign, a donation that eventually led to eight new misdemeaner charges being brought against Hall in 2004. Her attorney Mike Scott is none too pleased. “The District Attorney knew about this gift from her former roommate in December 2002,” he said. “They did nothing with it until the DA failed to secure a felony conviction against Judge Hall last August. It was well known prior to the trial and should have been included in the original charges.”5
To say that Sneddon and his people were not thrilled that the felony charges did not stick the first time they prosecuted Hall is no doubt an understatement according to unnamed sources. Despite the prosecution’s stance that they were merely punishing a judge who had violated state campaign funding laws, someone with a brain and glasses not fogged by corruption thought differently and prevented the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office from prosecuting Hall. Perhaps the most important reason for removing the DA’s office from the case is the fact that Hall is slated to serve as a witness for Gary Dunlap in his civil lawsuit against Tom Sneddon.6 Can you say conflict of interest?
Now, if I was a District Attorney who was being targeted for violating the civil rights of some local attorney and I knew that one of the judges on my watch was testifying for the plaintiff (Dunlap, in this case), I would do my best to make sure that by the time she testified, her reputation would be so soiled with political and criminal scandal that she would not be considered credible. If making Hall look bad meant stacking a bunch of ridiculous charges against her or prosecuting her for essentially covering up a gay relationship, so be it. Of course, this is merely the hypothetical meanderings of a curious observer.
We doubt that Ms. Hall, once she has hopefully been freed from the vengeful clutches of a twisted legal scene in Santa Barbara, will allow Sneddon to rest much. We see him being sued big time for his illegal and unethical antics. Not shockingly, Hall is not the only public official Sneddon has it in for.
Just when you thought that massage parlor lovin’ had given way to chat room sex, two sisters in Santa Maria set out to prove that there is still a market for this hands-on service to the male segment of the community, even law enforcement officials (allegedly). Two sisters, April and Irene Cummings, were accused of running a prostitution ring through the guise of a massage parlor. Art Montandon, the Santa Maria city lawyer at the time, was conducting his own investigation in an attempt to get information on one of the persons alleged to have been serviced at the parlor – the Santa Maria police Chief John Sterling. A number of rumors swirled as names were floated as possible customers of the Cummings sisters, the biggest being one very important person: Tom Sneddon.
As one could imagine, Sneddon vehemently denied the allegations, even threatening to sue the sisters if they did not recant. “It’s outrageous.” I’ve never had a massage in my life,” Sneddon claimed. After meeting with Sneddon about the allegation, the Cumming’s sisters attorney Michael Clayton said that “the sisters likely confused the District Attorney with a man named ‘Tom’ who looked similar to Sneddon and allegedly visited their business on that day and that he thought April) was genuinely mistaken… I don’t believe (Sneddon) was a client of either of them.”7
Making matters even more interesting was the rumor that Bill Wegener (yes, that Bill Wegener), had caught Chief Sterling on tape but none of the parties – Wegener, Montandon, or even the members of Sneddon’s office – have ever claimed to have seen such a tape.8
Enter Tom Sneddon and the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office whose job it was to prosecute the case. And this is where the trouble truly begins. As it turns out, Montandon had evidence that would prove beneficial not for the prosecution but for the defense. Upon learning about the existence of this evidence, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office accused Montandon of bribery and interfering with their case. Although the DA’s office attempted to prevent Montandon from providing the evidence to defense attorneys, a judge would ruled that Sneddon’s office did not have the authority to stop Montandon from doing his own investigation. Montandon later promised that he would provide the full and complete story of not only the District Attorney’s unprofessional conduct, but the inappropriate conduct and motives of others working behind the scenes to cause community conflict.”
Montandon also fired back his own assaults on Sneddon and his office, accusing them of “prosecutorial misconduct in pursuing a local attorney.” Just who was Montandon referring to? That’s right – Gary Dunlap. In addition, Montandon even found time to chide his enemies: “Unlike (Assistant District Attorney Christie) Stanley and current and former members of her office, I have never had my license to practice law suspended by the State Bar, have never been convicted of a crime, and have never been terminated from any attorney job.”9
After “retiring” after 19 years of service, Montandon filed an official complaint against Sneddon and his office, citing that Sneddon and his employees had engaged in “discriminatory, abusive, defamatory (and) negligent” tactics against him.10 After it was revealed that the California Bar Association was investigating Sneddon and others for misconduct Montandon added that: “We’re geared up to file a federal court lawsuit in the next two months.”11
We in no way necessarily endorse the actions of any of the parties who have accused Sneddon nor do we support coddling criminals in such a way that they have carte blanche to whatever they please. We believe in law and order. We also happen to believe in due process. But it only gets more interesting when we consider another often overlooked and often threatened person who had the courage to speak up about what really goes on in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria: Dr. Thambiah Sundaram.
In an interview with Online Legal Review’s Ron Sweet, Thambiah Sundaram claimed that he was arrested and prosecuted by the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office for, among other things, grand theft, malicious mischief, and impersonating a doctor.
The case was later dismissed by then Judge Barbara Beck, who called the allegations against Sundaram “ridiculous.” The seriousness of Beck’s charge is quite obvious and adds proverbial fuel to speculation that Sneddon has a predilection to misuse his prosecutorial authority. It is little wonder that Sundaram sued Sneddon and his office for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, false arrest, abuse of power, and conspiracy and was awarded over $300,000 for his trouble. But Sundaram also had a great deal to say about Tom Sneddon and his subordinates in the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office in regards to the way they operate in other ways.
Sundaram alleges that in late 1994 or early 1995, he heard racist comments being made by the likes of now Senior Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola as well as Tim Rooney – all in the glorious presence of Tom Sneddon – at a private fundraising function. For instance, a man named Rajan Ayyar was referred to as a “nigger” by Nicola as he and other government officials allegedly plotted about how they were going to “go after” him. Apparently, the fact that Ayyar was a Black man who claimed to be a Stanford alum was simply too much for these respectable white folks. Moreover, they were alleged to have believed that they could get whatever they wanted since they had just put a judge on the bench whom they were blackmailing at the time with some “dirt” on her personal life. That judge? Diana Hall.12
It would take ten years and would come without Hall’s involvement but their plotting paid off and Ayyar was convicted last year of “10 counts of grand theft, four of forgery and one each of securities fraud and commission of a fraudulent securities scheme.” And take a guess who Rajan Ayyar’s attorney was? Gary Dunlap.13 Ayyar was not the only “nigger” against whom they were purportedly plotting. Sundaram also maintains that the group discussed what to do with Michael Jackson. Among the things that authorities allegedly said about Jackson:
– Some of Sneddon’s friends wanted Jackson’s property to convert it into a thriving vineyard. Consistent with Sundaram’s claims, wine-making is the leading agricultural industry in Santa Barbara where Jackson owns 2,700 acres of prime real estate.
– Authorities laughed and bragged about passing around pictures of Jackson’s genitalia, pictures that were taken during the 1993-94 investigation. This was done to embarrass Jackson. (These pictures were supposed to be sealed but are not. Even Geraldo Rivera admits that he has seen them)
– Nicola lamented that they had done everything they could to get “that nigger” out of town but had failed. Apparently, authorities did not like the fact that Jackson was the richest resident in Santa Barbara, that he had married a white woman (Lisa Marie Presley) and that he owned all of that property. They promised they would not fail to get rid of him the next time around.
– Sneddon allegedly stated that his goal was to get “some dirt to get him to leave” and that he wanted to ‘run him out of town.”14
These tidbits of information have been challenged by Sneddon supporters and Jackson haters alike as unsubstantiated gossip. However, if this information has any kernel of truth to it (and we believe it does), then it makes the events of November 2003 a mere fulfillment of an alleged obsession with Jackson on Sneddon’s part.
SNEDDON’S OBSESSION WITH JACKSON
Not too long after the now-infamous November 2003 press conference in which Tom Sneddon joked about Michael Jackson with Sheriff Jim Anderson, Sneddon was quick to point out that he did not have a vendetta against the superstar.15 In light of the aforementioned accusations from others in the Santa Barbara area along the same lines, one should at least be willing to consider the possibility. Sneddon went so far as to state that he had not even thought about the singer or the allegations during the ten-year interval between the cases. However, a plethora of articles from news outlets from 1994-2003 reveal something altogether different. The following quotes, courtesy of Talkleft.com, are evidence of Sneddon’s lack of attention to Jackson:
The Independent (London), August 20, 1994 :
A ruddy-faced veteran prosecutor with a reputation for bloody-mindedness, Thomas Sneddon is not burdened by a litany of heavily publicised previous blunders. Nor is he willing to accept that his case is hopeless without the testimony of its central figure – Jordan Chandler. ”The Santa Barbara office is still quite involved in investigation of the Jackson allegations,” says Michael Cooney, an attorney who knows Sneddon well. ”Tom Sneddon is a very determined individual who will go further than almost anyone to prove something which he feels needs proving. Once he decides action is worth taking, he will pursue it to the very end.”
The New York Times, September 22, 1994:
Tom Sneddon, the District Attorney in Santa Barbara, where Mr. Jackson owns an estate, said more than 400 witnesses had been interviewed in the case and that two other possible victims had been identified. But he said one of these, who is now in therapy, had asked not to be involved in the case and the other was out of the country and had made a “general denial” of wrongdoing by Mr. Jackson.
Showbiz Today, September 22, 1994:
GIL GARCETTI, Los Angeles County District Attorney: We have concluded that because the young boy who was the catalyst for this investigation has recently informed us that he does not wish to participate in any criminal proceeding where he is named as a victim, that we must decline prosecution involving Mr. Jackson.
VERCAMMEN: Prosecutors said their investigation also turned up two other children allegedly molested by Michael Jackson. But the district attorneys added one boy is out of the country and denies wrongdoing by Jackson, and the third alleged victim is reluctant to testify. Prosecutors said they will reopen the case should any witnesses have a change of heart.
TOM SNEDDON, Santa Barbara County District Attorney: Should circumstances change, should other evidence become available within this period of the statute of limitations, like Los Angeles County, we would re-evaluate the situation based upon what information is available to us at that particular point in time.
The Chattanooga Times, August 19, 1995:
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Today newspaper said Santa Barbara, Calif., District Attorney Tom Sneddon had twice contacted Presley’s mother, Priscilla, for information about Jackson’s relationships with young boys.
The New York Beacon August 23, 1995
Magazine: Michael Jackson Lied To Interviewer Diane Sawyer. Michael Jackson lied to Diane Sawyer about his relationship with young boys and withheld information about a pending civil action, Vanity Fair reported. Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon told the magazine that Jackson has not been “cleared” of sexual involvement with two boys, as Sawyer said during his interview of Jackson on ABC’s “Prime Time Live.”
“The state of the investigation is in suspension until somebody comes forward,” Sneddon said. The magazine also reported, quoting unidentified sources, that there is a third boy whose lawyer is working on a settlement with Jackson. In the June 14 interview, Jackson told Sawyer there was “not one iota of information that was found that could connect me to these charges” of child molestation. But Sneddon told the magazine in its September issue that he has seen photos of Jackson’s genitalia, and “his statement on TV is untrue and incorrect and not consistent with the evidence in the case.” Others familiar with the evidence told Vanity Fair that the photos match descriptions given by a young boy to investigators.
The Advertiser January 27, 1996:
“But the reality is, no matter what he does, he can’t escape the fact that he paid out millions of dollars to prevent a 13-year-old boy from testifying against him in court,” says Santa Barbara District-Attorney Tom Sneddon, who originally investigated claims Jackson had molested the boy at his Neverland ranch. Charges against Jackson were dropped when the boy refused to testify. But Mr Sneddon says, contrary to popular belief, it would be “inaccurate” to say Jackson was cleared of all charges. “The state of the investigation is in suspension until somebody comes forward and testifies,” he says.
Daily News (New York) February 14, 2001:
Michael Jackson is not out of the woods. So says Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon, the man who brought child molestation charges against the singer in 1993. Jackson is scheduled to deliver a speech tonight at Carnegie Hall on behalf of his Heal the Kids initiative. Although Sneddon can’t be there in person, he’s definitely arching an eyebrow from 3,000 miles away. “The case against Michael Jackson was never closed, and he was never exonerated,” Sneddon says. “It’s in suspended animation and can be reopened at any time.” 16
Clearly, Mr. Sneddon had been doing a great deal of thinking about Jackson and the 1993 case that he did not get to prosecute. Furthermore, either Sneddon had the gift of prophecy or he was smelling pay dirt in February 2003 when, in an interview with Court TV investigative reporter Diane Dimond (we’ll get to her later), Sneddon once again stated that all he needed was “one more victim” to re-open his case against Mr. Jackson.17
QUESTIONABLE LEGAL TACTICS
Despite the protests of Sneddon and his supporters, the tactics that the defense allege he has engaged in throughout the investigation support the idea that a vendetta is indeed the driving force behind this entire “case”. There are so many egregious acts on the district attorney’s part, that a list might be more practical:
§ Excessive number of search warrants (over 105 at the present writing), the majority of which came after Jackson was indicted by a grand jury.18
§ Bullying witnesses at the grand jury hearing.19
§ Lying to the media and the general public about the actual nature of the two grand juries that were called in 1993-94. While Sneddon insisted that neither were asked to indict Jackson, blaming collapse of the case on the fact that Jackson had settled with the Chandler family, both grand juries could have returned indictments. Based on the flimsy evidence, however, both grand juries wisely decided not to do so.20 Sneddon once again proves himself to be something else besides “Mad Dog”: A liar.
§ Harassment of persons close to Jackson with the express attempt to get them to turn on Jackson.21
§ Tossing in a conspiracy charge while not indicting the other five alleged co-conspirators (how can there be a conspiracy with only one person being charge?)22
§ Intentionally violating Jackson’s attorney-client privilege by (1) breaking in to the office of private investigator Bradley Miller, who worked for then-Jackson defense attorney Mark Geragos;23 (2) seizing material from the home of Jackson’s personal assistant Evelyn Tavvasci, material clearly marked “Mesereau” (the surname of Jackson’s current defense attorney)24
§ Allegedly leaking damaging information through Diane Dimond (isn’t it obvious?)
§ Searching Neverland with 60 officers over a year after Jackson’s arrest, all to allegedly “take pictures” and “get measurements” of some of the rooms in Jackson’s home.25
§ Seizing records that clearly have nothing to do with child molestation: financial, bank, land, rental car records.
§ Attempting to harass Jackson supporters, particularly online fan communities such as MJJForum. Sneddon actually went so far as to accuse MJJForum of being Jackson’s official site and, therefore, violating the gag order by showing public support for Jackson.26
§ Inappropriately joking and laughing at the now-infamous press conference announcing Jackon’s arrest in November 2003 27
§ Inappropriately interjecting himself into the case as a witness during grand jury testimony. He made himself a witness and was summarily examined by Tom Mesereau at a later hearing.28
The list literally could go on and on but we have decided to end it here. The sad fact is that Sneddon, based upon the documented cases of so many others, has used the courts as his own little playground to metaphorically assassinate if not convict his enemies. And it does not help when the judge (who has already sat as trial judge over other questionable Sneddon cases) overseeing the Michael Jackson case has a history of reversing himself on certain key motions and also being checked by higher courts. Now that both Melville and the Attorney General of California have blocked any chance of Sneddon and his office from being recused, Sneddon may appear to have the upper hand. But do not bet it on for a minute.
Even as this is project is being written, there are other investigative bodies who have fleshed out a number of other documented cases where Sneddon and his office have been cited for prosecutorial misconduct.29 Egregious judicial and government malfeasance of this kind cannot and will not last forever. The chickens will, in the words of Malcolm X, come home to roost. The kingdom of Sneddon is a ticking time bomb.
Jury Pool Tainting, Gag Order Style
One of the customary acts of a judge who presides over a high-profile case such as the Michael Jackson case is to issue a gag order, binding all parties pertinent to the case to silence in order to prevent leaks and to maintain fairness for both sides. Not surprisingly, the minute Michael Jackson was arrested, his former defense attorney Mark Geragos called a press conference declaring the innocence of his client and labelling the latest accuser’s mother a scam artist. Shortly after, there a gag order was issued and press conferences became a thing of the past. This was supposed to prevent public grandstanding, jury tainting, and leaking of prejudicial information that could prevent Mr. Jackson from receiving a fair trial. Despite these limitations, however, Tom Sneddon has creatively found several viable and willing avenues by which to sidestep that trite and flimsy thing known as a gag order:
Susan TellemAsk anyone in the public relations business (other than Susan Tellem, of course) whether or not there is any issue with a public relations firm representing a District Attorney’s office and you might get more than your share of stares and questions. Yet, Sneddon and Ms. Tellem insist that Tellem International is merely handling media requests and concerns for the sake of efficiency. In addition, Ms. Tellem offered her services for free. Wow! Score one point for benevolence! Not.
Tellem, via its prime connections to Sneddon’s Girl Friday Diane Dimond and other major media outlets like Fox, has been instrumental in spreading poisonous and venomous stories about Jackson. Even worse, the firm also managed to sponsor jury tainting stories that have been carried by such illustrious news programs as the Dan Abrams show and Catherine Crier Live. There are far too many examples of these shady jury pool tainting tactics. Consider this crass comment from their website concerning the case and their standing in it:
“The first thing you learn in Journalism School is to check sources. Some media have relied on third-tier sources like Brian Oxman, a self-appointed Jackson family spokesman, to do their fact checking for them. This has resulted in inaccurate information. We request that media give us call if they need to check facts.”1
It simply makes little sense to us that a public relations firm with no bias concerning Jackson’s guilt or innocence would be accusing a Jackson defense attorney of lying. This statement is an obvious attempt to discredit any source that provides information that contradicts what their client would like to surface. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of reliable sources are the ones providing information favorable to the defense.
In addition, Tellem should be the very last place for one to “check facts” considering that they only know how to tell one side of a story. We do understand that they are faithfully representing their client; however, they would do well to take others to task for merely saying things their “client’ would agree with.
When Tellem is not taking personal swipes at Jackson attorneys and supporters, they are pushing the envelope of professional ethics. Consider one of their prime acts as representatives for the prosecution: “In addition, Tellem used AP as a breaking news tool since the DA’s office had no budget for BusinessWire or other fast acting national distribution service. When a story needed telling, Tellem contacted AP, and they put it on the wire immediately. But Tellem gets even bolder concerning their “mission” when they remind us that “On January 8, 2004, the DA requested a gag order, which remains in place. While this has reduced the number of calls, each time there is a court appearance, they begin again. An unexpected consequence of working with the DA were death threats from Jackson fans (these were turned over to the FBI).”2
We are simply floored by the blurring of professional and ethical lines in the media. How are we to receive objective news from AP when Tellem uses it as its own little mouthpiece to spread the gospel of Sneddon? One would think that Tellem had the “budget” to use BusinessWire to accommodate their client. We are not simply arguing that they do not have the right but merely pointing out the blurring of ethical lines that could jeopardize news on any case or issue being reported objectively.
Equally troubling to us are the claims that Jackson fans have threatened Tellem. We do not under any circumstance condone any so-called fan threatening the life of anyone regardless of what side of this case they happen to be on. Such behavior is not only illegal and abominable but morally repugnant. We do, however, believe that it is absolutely necessary that such claims be followed up and reported on in order to remove the specter or stain of guilt upon anyone who supports Jackson or may happen to be a fan.
For someone who has not been sheriff of Santa Barbara since 2003, Jim Thomas sure has gotten a great deal of mileage out of tossing his status around on television in order to cop TV time. Thomas of course has been a mouthpiece for Sneddon over the last eleven years. Eager for face time and free drinks (please Dimond segment), Thomas has done nothing but lie on national television, repeating his mantra that he knows of numerous “other victims” who are too afraid to come forward and accuse Jackson.
Thomas, from the time this nonsensical railroad job began, has made a big issue that Jackson’s settling of the 1993 allegations should be a strong indication that the pop legend is guilty and clearly has something to hide.
One has to wonder, however, if Thomas really believes this since he was a part of a settlement in February 2001 involving the Santa Barbara County Libertarian Party (SBLP). The SBLP had accused the good former sheriff of misappropriation of tax payer dollars after he apparently used $10,000 to produce an endorsement video of a measure he was supporting. Thomas insisted that the $15,000 settlement that Santa Barbara County officials procured “doesn’t assign blame. It is an agreement between sides not to go any further.” Of course, Bill Hansult, the attorney representing the SBLP in the case, had another take. “In essence, the sheriff stole taxpayer money, defended himself with taxpayer money, and the fine was paid with taxpayer money.”3
This is not the first time actions attributed to Thomas or his department has cost Santa Barbara big money. Thomas and his merry band of deputies also cost Santa Barbara County taxpayers a cool $1 million after some of his subordinates allegedly beat up two men at a bar in Lompoc in 2001.4 If we follow Thoma’s line of reasoning that a settlement on Jackson’s part is a clear sign of guilt, then what are we to make of the settlements he was involved in?
We are not surprised that Thomas is involved in the current case against Mr. Jackson. After all, according to one source, he was spotted having drinks after a court hearing with Diane Dimond and Maureen Orth, two tabloid writers who are anything but objective when it comes to reporting on Jackson. From what we understand, the loquacious Thomas appeared to be mighty chummy with Dimond and Orth.
Ray Chandler is the kind of uncle anyone would want to have. He spends countless years selling his “story” of sordid tales of the sexual abuse of his “victimized” nephew Jordan Chandler. Furthermore, he continues to show his love for his nephew by writing a book about the boy’s alleged ordeal, questioning the young man’s sexuality, and continuing to profit off of an alleged childhood incidence of sexual abuse at the hands of a living music legend. Of course, there is no mention as to whether Chandler’s troubled nephew will receive any of the proceeds from All That Glitters, a book that tells the story of a poorly written sham with as much flatness and banal imagery as one would find in a Bill O’Reilly novel (Yes, he wrote one and it is a flaming hot mess).
To put it succinctly, Ray Chandler is a liar. Hence, it should not be shocking that, in an attempt to perpetuate a distorted and felonious image of Jackson, Dateline NBC used this man as a source for a number of their damaging exposes concerning the case. But do not think for a minute that Chandler suddenly stumbled upon the idea to use an alleged devastating incident to his own economic gain. Chandler has been hocking his version of the events surrounding the 1993 allegations for several years. In 1998, Chandler claimed to have already had what we now call All That Glitters completed and even threatened to release dozens of pages of the project onto the Internet.5
Even more ridiculous was a 1995 interview he conducted with Entertainment Weekly in which he claimed that despite Jackson’s alleged victimization of his nephew, “It’s too bad to see his career take the hit it did and we all hope he gets it back.”6 Does this care and concern for Jackson and his career square with the care and concern one would have for a predator who preys on innocent children? This simply does not make sense.
The contradictions did not stop with this nearly ten year old interview. In his book All That Glitters, Chandler makes a number of bumbling and utterly ridiculous contradictory statements about the 1993 case.
First, he admits that the main reason media whore lawyer Gloria Allred was dismissed as the leading attorney for Evan Chandler and his son was because she was too insistent on seeking media attention. He maintains that the last thing his brother Evan and his brother’s attorney Barry Rothman wanted was too much media attention since they wanted to settle the case quietly and get the money as quickly and expeditiously as possible. Enter crooked tort lawyer and crooked toothed Larry Feldman.
Such an admission is utterly amazing. Ray Chandler rants throughout the book about how irate and disturbed Evan Chandler was over the possibility that Mr. Jackson had molested his son. It is highly unlikely that the average father would have taken great pains to protect the privacy of the man who victimized his young son unless of course there was no molestation, just a merciless scam to get money from the unsuspecting Jackson. Clearly Evan Chandler was more concerned with getting his multi-million dollar settlement than he was with his son. In a phrase, it was “all about the benjamins.”
Another ridiculous and contradictory element of Chandler’s book was the documentation he provided to support his claims. Contrary to his claim that his documents provide the hard facts of Jackson’s guilt, they actually point to something altogether different. For instance, the authenticity of several documents has been called into question by Barry Rothman’s former secretary Geraldine Hughes. On MJJF.com, Ms. Hughes insisted that she is certain that a number of the documents purported to be typed by her are actual forgeries since she did not type them.7 Her accusation is also supported by clear evidence of the forgery of Barry Rothman’s signature. Compare the following signatures:
Though none involved with the Veritas Project are, as far as we know, handwriting experts, the Three Blind Mice could see that the “Rothman” signatures do not match. Even more remarkable is the fact that one of the documents is not even signed by “Rothman.” It is one thing to use authentic legal documents to substantiate your point. It is quite another thing, however, to use falsified papers to attempt to do the same. One could wonder how Ray Chandler, a lawyer since 2001, could commit such an act of fraud in a book not even worth the paper it is written on. However, considering that Chandler got his “law” degree from the very college where Tom Sneddon “teaches” law students every unethical thing he knows, one has to assume that Chandler took notes well from his master.
Some of Chandler’s “proof” supplied at the end of his book actually support the claims of Hughes and Mary Fischer, the investigative reporter who wrote the GQ Magazine article “Was Michael Jackson Framed?’ The documents concerning the custody issues as well the negotiations between then-Jackson investigator Anthony Pellicano and Barry Rothman only support what Hughes and Fischer wrote, not what Chandler is trying to put over on us.
Perhaps the most despicable element about Chandler’s book is its dogged portrayal of Michael Jackson’s sexuality. The loving uncle spends essentially the entire book trying to get readers to believe one thing: Michael Jackson is a closet homosexual. Chandler even tries to cite psychological studies to prove that Jackson is a gay pedophile. Consider this quote: “Whatever the nature of his son’s relationship with Michael, Evan believed the singer truly loved Jordie and would not put either of their lives in jeopardy just to conceal his homosexuality.”8 Chandler makes this comment after a discussion about Evan Chandler’s concerns that Jackson may have been exposed to the AIDS virus due to being treated by a dentist who was allegedly infected with the deadly virus.
Chandler’s assumption that Jackson is gay is also supposed to be supported by a “love letter” Jackson allegedly wrote to Jordan:
“[Boy’s name], you’re not only my cousin but also my best friend. I can’t stop loving your mother and sister. I have found true love in all of you. If more people were like us the world would change instantly. I have such golden dreams for you. I want you to be a giant in the industry. You are my new inspiration. I love you. Doo doo head. Applehead. Disneyland soon. Love, doo doo. Call soon, bye, doo doo head. Tell Mom I love her.”9
The substance of the letter is not convincing. In fact, one would be better served inferring Jackson’s fondness for Jordan’s mother June rather than for the boy. Anyone who can detect the slightest sexual tension or innuendo between Jackson and the boy needs as much counseling as Jackson critics claim he needs. If nothing else, the letter he leaked to prove Jackson’s proclivity for Jordan actually shows Jackson having a loving relationship with Jordie’s entire family, particularly Jordan’s mother June as well as his sister. It is not the least bit shocking that Chandler may have been a source for Victor Gutierrez’s horrific book Michael Jackson Was My Lover (more on that nonsense later).
Shamefully, Ray Chandler’s book has garnered more attention than Ms. Hughe’s Redemption, a book whose documentation is far more reliable than the former. Even worse, NBC has placed a great deal of faith in Chandler’s lies, giving him a place on another Jackson-bashing Dateline exclusive in September 2004. But the media feeds on sensational lies and innuendos to grab big ratings and advertising dollars. There is, however, one silver lining in this dark cloud of a sham: Ray Chandler did get the attention of someone with his stories – Jackson’s defense attorneys, who promptly subpoenaed him as a “custodian of documents.” Now, the caring uncle will get to tell an eager audience of his “peers” whether or not the documents he has been shopping around to the media are actually authentic. In addition, he will have to explain how he, not even a part of this 1993 settlement, has possession of those records. Ray Chandler, you’re going to be a STAR!
On September 19, 2004 Michael Jackson’s defense team subpoenaed Ray Chandler . He turned to a law firm which subsequently made an objection to the subpoena. Court documents prove that Ray Charles was terribly unwilling to testify in court in order to prove that his book was based on authentic documents. [LINK ]
VICTOR GUTIERREZ: TABLOID FUGITIVE
As damaging as Diane Dimond’s and Ray Chandler’s respective smear campaigns have been against Jackson, none of their activities could have been possible without the help of Victor Gutierrez. In 1997, Victor Gutierrez released Michael Jackson was my Lover, a tell-all book that describes in detail the alleged relationship that took place between Michael Jackson and his accuser. Included in Gutierrez’s supposed expose are exclusive documents from the case, never before seen photographs of Jordan Chandler and excerpts from a “secret diary” that was allegedly kept by the boy. Because this information could have only been provided to Gutierrez by somebody close to the case, many began to speculate that the accuser’s father Evan Chandler might have assisted Gutierrez in writing the book.
In addition, this sophomoric, pornographic, C-Level farce of a book claimed that Jackson had given the boy a venereal disease. One book reviewer described Michael Jackson was my Lover as a “pedophiliac opus” and recounted some of the salacious details contained in the book: the photo section alone includes sketches of the [Jackson’s] genitalia, photos of the “actual bathroom” where alleged sexual transgression took place, as well as snapshots of one of the reputed victim’s “shit and urine stain[ed]” underwear” results of [the boy’s] VD test, explicit transcripts detailing [Jackson’s] seduction techniques “[and] the identities of several other child stars who reportedly had sex with Jackson.”10 Needless to say, the book was banned from the United States due to its explicit content.
Shortly after releasing Michael Jackson was my Lover, Gutierrez began making the TV rounds. During an appearance on the tabloid television show Hard Copy, Gutierrez told reporter Diane Dimond that he had seen a videotape of Michael Jackson molesting his nephew Jeremy. According to Gutierrez, the alleged tape had been captured by one of Jackson’s security cameras and given to the boy’s mother by an unknown source. Upon viewing the tape’s contents, Gutierrez says, the mother contacted the Los Angeles Police Department only to have her claims ignored by investigators. Unsure of what to do, she got in contact with Gutierrez, arranged a meeting with him in a hotel room and showed him the alleged tape.
“And now she is scared,” Gutierrez told Dimond. “The District Attorney is trying to get these tapes and I guess through my sources, they already (sic) been in contact with the mother. So, it’s up to the mother now to make the final decision.”11
In response to the allegations, Jackson filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Victor Gutierrez and Hard Copy. During the civil proceedings, the boy’s mother Margaret Maldonado testified that, contrary to what Gutierrez had reported, neither of her two sons had been molested by Jackson, she had not received any money from Jackson and she had never met Victor Gutierrez.12
Maldonado later discussed the case in her book Jackson Family Values:
“I received a telephone call from a writer named Ruth Robinson. I had known Ruth for quite a while and respected her integrity. It made what she had to tell me all the more difficult to hear. ‘I wanted to warn you, Margaret,’ she said. ‘There’s a story going around that there is a videotape of Michael molesting one of your sons, and that you have the tape.’ If anyone else had said those words, I would have hung up the phone. Given the long relationship I had with Ruth, however, I gave her the courtesy of a response. I told her that it wasn’t true, of course, and that I wanted the story stopped in its tracks. She had been in contact with someone who worked at the National Enquirer who had alerted her that a story was being written for that paper. Ruth cross-connected me with the woman, and I vehemently denied the story. Moreover, I told her that if the story ran, I would own the National Enquirer before the lawsuits I brought were finished.
To its credit, the National Enquirer never ran the piece. Hard Copy, however, decided it would. Hard Copy correspondent Diane Dimond had reported that authorities were reopening the child molestation case against Michael. She had also made the allegations on L.A. radio station KABC-AM on a morning talk show hosted by Roger Barkley and Ken Minyard. Dimond’s claims were based on the word of a freelance writer named Victor Gutierrez. The story was an outrageous lie. Not one part of it was true. I’d never met the man. There was no tape. Michael never paid me for my silence. He had never molested Jeremy. Period.”13
In court, Gutierrez could not produce the videotape that he claimed to have viewed and he refused to reveal his source. According to Jackson’s attorney Zia Modabber, “Gutierrez told a D.A. Investigator and two witnesses who testified at the trial that the boy’s mother was his source. He told anyone who would listen. The only people he would not tell were the ladies and gentlemen of his jury – that’s when he became ethical. Now he’s getting on his high horse saying he’s protecting his source.”
Superior Court Judge Reginald Dunn ruled that Gutierrez’s story was false and the jury subsequently awarded Jackson $2.7 million in damages. “[Gutierrez] made the whole thing up, and we sued him for it,” Modabber said.14
According to Ruben Rasso, a member of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, Gutierrez then fled from the United States and moved to Chile in order to avoid paying Jackson the money.15
In November 2003, when Jackson was accused of child molestation for a second time, Gutierrez began giving interviews about the case to Chilean newspapers. He claimed that the new set of allegations validated the contents of his book and as a result, Jackson had defamed his character and now owed him money. Gutierrez even went so far as to say that Jackson’s 2,700-acre ranch would soon be his.16
During an interview with La Cuarta, Gutierrez alleged that Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon had contacted him about being a potential witness in the current case against Jackson. A week later, a member of the District Attorney’s office contacted La Cuarta to refute those claims.17
In early 2004, Gutierrez was offered $25, 000 a month from Dateline NBC to cover the Jackson case. He accepted the offer and is now a consulting producer for the news program. Given the fact that Gutierrez has irrefutably fabricated stories about Jackson in the past, one must question NBC’s decision to hire Gutierrez to cover the case.18
Recently, Dateline NBC aired a report entitled Inside the Michael Jackson Case; the credits reveal that Gutierrez was the consulting producer for the program. Not surprisingly, Inside the Michael Jackson Case was heavily slanted in favour of the prosecution’s version of events and was laced with numerous falsehoods, half-truths and innuendos. Again, Gutierrez is a proven liar, particularly when it comes to Michael Jackson. Is NBC intentionally trying to taint the jury pool by hiring a man who clearly has an axe to grind with Jackson to produce a program about his case?
So far, NBC has not commented on Gutierrez’s involvement with Inside the Michael Jackson Case. How this man has enough credibility to have a job with ANY network is beyond belief. Whether due to hypnotic stupidity or mean-spirited revenge against Jackson, Gutierrez and Dateline have turned trashing Jackson into an Olympic sport. But rest assured, we see Gutierrez involved in another Olympic sport once Jackson’s good name has been cleared: dodging a subpoena.
To say that all of Michael Jackson’s enemies have converged in Santa Barbara might be an understatement. Contrary to the flimsy observations of the likes of paperboy Dan Abrams of “The Dan Abrams Show” as well as those of media ho Diane Dimond, this is a setup, folks. Just take a look at our chart below. One would have to suffer from cataracts not to see the “pattern” of conspiracy perpetrated against Jackson, not by him.
From the very beginning, the 2003 case against Michael Jackson looked like a bad rerun of 1993 with essentially the same cast of ridiculous characters:
When persons involved with this project first resolved to do it, we took it on with the sole purpose of reporting what mainstreaming media appears to be afraid to report. For reasons still not clear (alright we think we know why), few if any news/media outlets have even touched on the subject of the suspicious involvement of virtually the same players from the 1993 allegations in the latest case against Mr. Jackson. It is our hope that persons reading this report will take the time to ponder what we have found, process the information, and decide for themselves. We are particularly hopeful that journalists interested in reporting the story as objectively as possible will consider this modest offering and perhaps decide to investigate both sides of the case for themselves. All we can do is hope.
The Main Players in the Michael Jackson Case
Sneddon and the Chandlers
(1) District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who attempted to bring charges against Michael Jackson in 1993 and who is now prosecuting the current case against Jackson, is on the faculty at the Santa Barbara College of Law. Ray Chandler, (2-3) the uncle of the boy who accused Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993, studied law at the Santa Barbara College of Law and is currently a real estate lawyer.
(4) Dave Schwartz, the stepfather of Jackson’s first accuser, is the founder of Rent-a-Wreck, a car rental agency that is represented by the public relations firm Tellem. After Jackson was arrested in 2003, Tellem offered Tom Sneddon their services – for free.
The Chandler’s Former Attorneys and their Ability to Find “Victims”
(5) Civil lawyer Larry Feldman represented Jordan Chandler, the boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993. (6) Feldman sent Jordan Chandler to see psychiatrist Stan Katz for an evaluation.
(7) In 1993, Jackson’s former maid Blanca Francia was deposed by civil lawyer Larry Feldman for the Chandlers’ lawsuit. In the deposition, Francia claimed to have seen Jackson act inappropriately with other children, including her own son. She later recanted these statements but members of the District Attorney’s office often refer to Francia’s son as an alleged victim of Jackson’s.
(8) After getting in contact with Larry Feldman, Gavin Arvizo accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse; the boy was then sent to see Dr. Katz (9). Note that less than four months earlier Gavin Arvizo and his family had vehemently defended Jackson on numerous occasions.
Feldman is not the only former attorney for the Chandlers who can’t seem to stay away from the Jackson case. (10) The Chandlers’ first attorney Gloria Allred has also made it her life mission to seek out other accusers. We’re sure her efforts are solely motivated by justice and have nothing to do with the cut of the settlement that she would inevitably receive if one of her clients were to successfully sue Jackson.
(11) In February 2003, after seeing a documentary that put a sinister spin on Jackson’s relationship with Gavin Arvizo, Gloria Allred contacted Tom Sneddon and demanded that he investigate Jackson. At the same time, “media psychiatrist” Carole Lieberman also filed a complaint against Jackson. Sneddon responded to Allred and Lieberman’s complaints by stating that although he would take the matter seriously, he could not reopen the Jackson case without a cooperative victim.
Months later, Gavin Arvizo told Larry Feldman that Michael Jackson sexually abused him. Once again, Allred missed out on the opportunity to represent a Jackson accuser. As for Lieberman, she made sure to advertise on her website that she was the first psychiatrist to demand that Jackson be investigated.
(12) Not to be one upped by Feldman and Katz, Allred and Lieberman teamed up on another collaboration an accuser named Daniel Kapone. After being treated by Dr. Lieberman, Kapone suddenly remembered having been abused by Jackson when he was just three years old. Once Lieberman helped him recover his “repressed memories,” Allred signed on as his attorney. Unfortunately for Allred and Lieberman, it was later determined that Kapone had never even met Michael Jackson.
1993: The Media
(13) During the 1993 case, many of Jackson’s former employees cashed in on the allegations by selling salacious stories to the media. The most visible opportunist from the 1993 case was the aforementioned Blanca Francia, Jackson’s former maid. She first sold her story to Diane Dimond during an interview on Hard Copy and later collaborated with Chilean journalist Victor Gutierrez on his book Michael Jackson was my Lover.
(14) Aside from providing Blanca Francia with a platform for her sensational stories, Gutierrez and Dimond had something else in common; they were both were sued by Jackson for spreading a false story about him in the mid-90s. During an interview on Hard Copy, Gutierrez claimed to have seen a videotape of Jackson molesting one of his nephews; Dimond later repeated his story on a local radio station. It was eventually proven that no such tape existed and Jackson filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez and Dimond for defamation of character.
2003: The Media
While the mainstream media has been collectively irresponsible in their coverage of the Jackson case, NBC seems particularly intent on ruining Jackson’s reputation by hiring several well-known Jackson detractors to cover the case. The following people either have an axe to grind with Jackson, have spread false rumours about him in the past or have connections to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office. Take a look:
(15) Despite the fact that Jackson sued her for spreading an irrefutably false story about him, NBC hired Diane Dimond to cover the Jackson case in 2003. (16) Dimond also admittedly receives information from the District Attorney’s office and there has been much speculation regarding the nature of her relationship with Tom Sneddon.
(17) Tim Russert, the senior vice president of NBC News, is married to Maureen Orth, a journalist who has written three slanderous articles about Jackson for Vanity Fair magazine. Two of these articles were written about the case and were full of half-truths and rumours.
(18) NBC hired Jim Thomas as a special analyst; Jim Thomas is admittedly good friends with Tom Sneddon.
(19) NBC produced two salacious Dateline NBC specials about the Jackson case. The most recent one featured interviews with Jim Thomas and Ray Chandler and was heavily slanted in favour of the prosecution’s version of events. (20) The special was produced by none other than Victor Gutierrez, who was hired by NBC to cover the Jackson case even though he still owes Jackson $2.7 million dollars from a defamation of character lawsuit that Jackson filed and won against him. Conflict of interest anyone?
Gutierrez and the Chandlers
(21) Many have speculated that Victor Gutierrez collaborated with Evan Chandler, the father of Jackson’s first accuser, to write Michael Jackson was my Lover. The book contains personal photographs of Jordan Chandler and court documents that only somebody directly involved in the case could possibly have access to.
(15) Victor Gutierrez and Ray Chandler recently worked together on the Dateline NBC special, which Gutierrez produced.
Conclusion Is it merely a coincidence that all of the people who have accused Michael Jackson of acting inappropriately with a child are connected to one another? Every accuser, every professional who has worked with each accuser, every tabloid hack who has reported negative stories about Jackson – literally all of the players involved in both the 1993 case and the 2003 case are related to one another.
Is it a conspiracy?
THE 1993 ALLEGATIONS
– In 1992, Michael Jackson met and befriended the Chandler family, becoming particularly close to 12-year-old Jordan, his half-sister Lily and their mother June Schwartz. Jackson often travelled with the family and they were frequent guests at his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara.
– According to June Schwartz’s former divorce attorney Michael Freeman, the boy’s father and June’s ex-husband Evan Chandler “began to get jealous of their involvement [with Jackson] and felt left out.”
– In June 1993, Evan Chandler hired attorney Barry Rothman to represent him in his custody case against June Schwartz. Rothman was not a family lawyer but he had recently handled a custody case that involved child molestation allegations.
– At Jordan’s 8th grade graduation that month, Evan Chandler confronted his ex-wife with his alleged suspicions of sexual misconduct on Jackson’s part. Freeman says that June Schwartz “thought the whole thing was baloney” and announced that she and her children still planned to accompany Jackson on his Dangerous world tour. According to Freeman, Chandler then threatened to go to the press with his suspicions.
– Chandler’s behaviour prompted Jackson to hire lawyer Bert Fields and Private Investigator Anthony Pellicano. Taking Pellicano’s advice, Jordan Chandler’s stepfather Dave Schwartz recorded a telephone conversation that took place between him and Evan Chandler. On the tape, Chandler said:
“I had good communication with Michael. We were friends. I like him and I respect him and everything else for what he is. There was no reason why he had to stop calling me. I sat in the room one day and talked to Michael and told him exactly what I want out of this whole relationship. I’ve been rehearsed about what to say and not to say.”
“[Jackson] broke up the family. [Jordan] has been seduced by this guy’s power and money.”
“I am prepared to move against Michael Jackson. It’s already set. There are other people involved that are waiting for my phone call that are in certain positions. I’ve paid them to do it. Everything’s going according to a certain plan that isn’t just mine. Once I make that phone call, this guy is going to destroy everybody in sight in any devious, nasty, cruel way that he can do it. And I’ve given him full authority to do that.”
“And if I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I’ve checked that inside out. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. June will lose [custody of the son] and Michael’s career will be over.”
“[Jordan’s welfare is] irrelevant to me. It’s going to be bigger than all of us put together. The whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight. It will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want.”
“This attorney I found, I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find. All he wants to do is get this out in the public as fast as he can, as big as he can, and humiliate as many people as he can. He’s nasty, he’s mean, he’s very smart, and he’s hungry for the publicity.”
– Upon hearing the taped phone conversation between Evan Chandler and Dave Schwartz, Pellicano immediately interviewed the boy in question. According to Pellicano, Jordan Chandler denied any wrongdoing on Jackson’s part.
– In mid-July, Evan Chandler convinced his ex-wife to allow him a one-week visitation period with their son. From that point on, the boy was isolated from his friends and family members.
– According to Rothman’s former legal secretary Geraldine Hughes, Chandler was receiving advice from Rothman on how to report child abuse without liability to the parent.
– Taking Rothman’s advice, Chandler contacted psychiatrist Mathis Abrams and presented him with a hypothetical situation (i.e- my son spent time alone with an adult male- is it possible that sexual abuse might have occurred and if so, what are the various ways that it can be reported to authorities?). In a written response to Chandler’s phone call, Abrams wrote that if a child were to come out with sexual abuse allegations during a therapy session, the therapist would be required by law to report it to the police.
– Chandler took this letter and, according to Pellicano, attempted to blackmail Jackson with it. In a meeting that took place in early August 1993, Chandler allegedly made a demand for a $20 million screenwriting deal in return for his not going forward with the child abuse allegations.
– Several days after the meeting, Pellicano tape recorded a conversation that took place between him, Barry Rothman and Evan Chandler. On the tape, Rothman and Chandler can be heard negotiating the amount of money it would take to keep Chandler from going forward with the child molestation allegations. Chandler restated his demand for $20 million and, according to Geraldine Hughes, was later told by Pellicano that Jackson would not pay him any money. Keep in mind that if Jackson had paid Chandler at that point, the entire criminal investigation would have been avoided.
– According to an investigative reporter from KCBS-TV, Evan Chandler then gave his son a controversial psychiatric drug known as sodium amytal. It has been widely documented that you can easily plant false memories into a person’s mind when they are under the influence of this drug.
– Evan Chandler claimed that he only used sodium amytal to pull Jordan’s tooth and that while under the drug’s influence, the boy came out with the allegations. According to Mark Torbiner, the anaesthesiologist who administered the drug: “If I used it, it was for dental purposes.” Numerous medical experts have agreed, however, that the use of sodium amytal to pull a tooth would be a highly questionable practice at best.
– During an interview with a psychiatrist, Jordan Chandler recalled the first time that he told his father about the alleged sexual abuse. His story corroborates the allegation that his father used sodium amytal to extract a confession from him: “[My father] had to pull my tooth out one time, like, while I was there. And I don’t like pain, so I said could you put me to sleep? And he said sure. So his friend put me to sleep; he’s an anesthesiologist. And um, when I woke up my tooth was out, and I was alright – a little out of it but conscious. And my Dad said – and his friend was gone, it was just him and me – and my dad said, ‘I just want you to let me know, did anything happen between you and Michael?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ and he gave me a big hug and that was it.” [Note: The transcript of Jordan Chandler’s interview with the psychiatrist was made public by the boy’s uncle Ray Chandler]
– On August 16th, 1993, June Schwartz’s attorney filed an ex-parte motion on her behalf to assist her in getting her son back. While in court the next day, Chandler never made any mention of child abuse allegations. If Chandler had told the judge about the supposed suspicions he’d had for the past three weeks, the judge would have immediately ordered for the boy to be taken away from his mother. But Chandler said nothing, presumably because his plan was to report the abuse using a third party (the psychiatrist). By filing the ex-parte motion, June Schwartz had thrown her ex-husband a curveball. The court ordered Evan Chandler to return Jordan to his mother immediately.
– On August 17th, 1993, the same day that Jordan Chandler was supposed to be returned to his mother, Evan Chandler took him to see Dr. Abrams. While there, the boy came out with the sexual abuse accusations against Michael Jackson and so began the police investigation into alleged misconduct on Jackson’s part.
THE CIVIL LAWSUIT
– Because of double jeopardy, anyone accused of a crime will never have to defend themselves for the same allegation twice unless one trial takes place in civil court and the other in criminal court. This was the situation with Michael Jackson in 1993.
– On September 14 1993, less than a month after the child abuse allegations against Michael Jackson had been reported to the police, the accusing family filed a $30 million lawsuit against Jackson with the help of civil attorney Larry Feldman.
– Up until that point, the alleged victim’s mother June Schwartz had maintained that Jackson was innocent of the allegations. As soon as the civil suit was filed, however, she changed her tune and joined forces with her ex-husband Evan Chandler and their son Jordan. At that point, June Schwartz’s divorce attorney Michael Freeman resigned. “The whole thing was such a mess,” he explained. “I felt uncomfortable with Evan. He isn’t a genuine person, and I sensed he wasn’t playing things straight.”
– The Chandlers sued Jackson for sexual battery, battery, seduction, willful misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud and negligence.
– The civil suit was filed while the police investigation was still ongoing. As a result, the civil trial was scheduled to take place before the criminal trial began which would have been a violation of Jackson’s constitutional right to not self-incriminate. Typically, when there are two trials dealing with the same allegation, the criminal trial takes place before the civil trial (i.e- the O.J Simpson case). This is to ensure that the Defendant’s defense in the criminal case will not be compromised as a result of the civil proceedings.
– Jackson’s attorneys filed a motion asking for the civil trial to be delayed until after the criminal trial was over. They cited numerous cases such as Pacer, Inc. v. Superior Court to support their request. The Federal case held that, “when both criminal and civil proceedings arise out of the same or related transactions, the Defendant is entitled to a Stay of Discovery and trial in the civil action until the criminal matter has been fully resolved.” Other cases cited include Dustin W. Brown v. The Superior Court, Dwyer v. Crocker National Bank, Patterson v. White and Huot v. Gendron.
– Larry Feldman argued that if the civil trial were to be postponed, the plaintiff, being a minor, might forget certain details about what had supposedly happened to him. The judge felt that the boy’s “fragile state” was more important than Jackson’s 5th Amendment rights and ruled in the boy’s favour.
– Jackson’s attorneys filed another motion asking that District Attorney Tom Sneddon be blocked from obtaining evidence used in the civil trial. Again, the Jackson team lost the motion. The DA made it clear that he was planning to use the evidence from the civil proceedings to assist him in his criminal case against Jackson.
– If Jackson had not settled the civil lawsuit, he would have put his entire defense strategy in jeopardy by revealing it to the prosecution months before the criminal case went to trial.
– Let’s pretend for a moment that Michael Jackson had gone through with the civil trial. What would have happened? He would have presented the court with all of his evidence of extortion and Sneddon would have been watching the entire thing unfold. He could have then taken Jackson’s most critical exonerating evidence from the civil trial and found ways to discredit it so that Jackson would have nothing left to defend himself with in the criminal trial.
– During the civil trial, Jackson’s lawyers would have undoubtedly revealed any inconsistencies in the accuser’s story. This would have given Sneddon the opportunity to examine and amend the weaknesses in his own case against Jackson.
– As you can see, allowing the civil trial to proceed would have given the prosecution the upper hand in the far more important criminal trial. Although this is the primary reason behind Michael Jackson’s decision to settle the case, there were many other factors involved:
1) In a criminal trial, the burden of proof lies with the affirmative; in other words, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of a crime. In civil trials, if the jury thinks the Defendant might be responsible for what he or she is accused of, they can still hold the Defendant liable.
2) In criminal law, if the Defendant chooses not to testify, their refusal cannot be used against them. In a civil trial, however, the Defendant must be cooperative for all depositions and testimony. If the Defendant in a civil trial invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege, the judge will tell the jury that they may make an inference against the party who refused to testify. If Michael Jackson had not settled the civil lawsuit, his entire personal life would have been put on display. Defendants in sex abuse crimes are often asked extremely personal questions on the stand; imagine what this process would be like for somebody like Michael Jackson who is admittedly shy and whose personal life is always subject to severe media scrutiny.
3) In civil trials the jury’s verdict does not have to be unanimous. If at least 50% of the jurors find the Defendant liable, the Plaintiff will still get money.
4) The Defendant in a civil trial has fewer rights. In criminal law, police must obtain search warrants before searching or seizing items from a person’s property. In civil law, a lawyer may demand information from the defense about any matter relevant to the case. This is known as the discovery process and it does not usually involve the court. Discovery may include: written questions to be answered under oath; oral deposition under oath; requests for pertinent documents; physical or mental examinations where injury is claimed; and requests to admit facts not in dispute. If Jackson had allowed the civil trial to proceed, Larry Feldman would have had access to Jackson’s medical and financial records without obtaining a warrant.
5) The civil trial would have taken months to resolve. Michael Jackson would have been paying millions of dollars in legal fees while at the same time limiting his source of income by putting his career on hold. There was probably also a lot of pressure from his record company to settle the lawsuit because the case was affecting his career.
6) Such a long, drawn out process would have caused Michael Jackson and his family immeasurable amounts of stress. Even after the civil trial was resolved, he would still have the criminal proceedings to contend with. Why go through all of that twice?
7) According to Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman, the negligence allegation included in the lawsuit might have prompted Jackson’s insurance company to force him to settle the case. “I have brought child molestation cases against Defendants and I always include a negligence allegation,” Oxman explained. “That means that the homeowners’ insurance policy takes over and a homeowners’ insurance policy can settle right out from under the Defendant. The Defendant can scream, ‘I will not settle that case,’ and they have no choice because the insurance company settles it.”
For the above reasons, Michael Jackson reluctantly settled the civil lawsuit that had been filed against him.
THE CIVIL SETTLEMENT
For various legal, personal, professional, financial and practical reasons, Michael Jackson settled the civil lawsuit filed against him by his accuser’s family in 1993. The recently leaked settlement document reveals several interesting facts:
1) Michael Jackson denied any wrongdoing.
2) The boy and his parents could have still testified against Jackson in the criminal trial.
3) Jackson only settled over claims of negligence and not over claims of child molestation.
Tabloid reporter Diane Dimond, who leaked the details of the settlement, tried to make it seem as if Jackson admitted to molesting the boy simply because he settled over the negligence allegation. Dimond pointed out that the original lawsuit said: “Defendant Michael Jackson negligently had offensive contacts with plaintiff which were both explicitly sexual and otherwise.” It is clear, however, from the wording of the settlement document, that the “negligence” allegation was redefined:
“Such claims include claims for bodily injuries resulting from negligence; whereas, Evan Chandler has made claims against Jackson for bodily injuries resulting from negligent infliction of emotional distress; whereas, Jordan Chandler has made claims against Jackson for bodily injuries resulting from negligent infliction of emotional distress.”
Negligence has been defined in the settlement as the “infliction of emotional distress”; there is no mention of sexual abuse. Referring to the lawsuit’s definition of “negligence” is inconclusive because each legal document intentionally defines the terms to ensure that there is no misunderstanding. Furthermore, if the negligence allegation was directly related to the child molestation allegations, why did Evan Chandler also claim to be the victim of negligence?
OTHER INTERESTING EXCEPRTS FROM THE DOCUMENT:
“This Confidential Settlement shall not be construed as an admission by Jackson that he has acted wrongfully with respect to the Minor, Evan Chandler or June Chandler, or any other person or at all, or that the Minor, Evan Chandler and June Chandler have any rights whatsoever against Jackson. Jackson specifically disclaims any liability to, and denies any wrongful acts against the Minor, Evan Chandler or June Chandler or any other persons. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson is a public figure and that his name, image and likeness have commercial value and are an important element of his earning capacity. The Parties acknowledge that Jackson claims that he has elected to settle the claims in the Action in view of the impact the Action has had and could have in the future on his earnings and potential income.”
Jackson repeatedly asserts his innocence while the accusing family does not once maintain that the boy’s allegations are true.
“The Parties recognize that the Settlement Payment set forth in this paragraph 3 are in settlement of claims by Jordan Chandler, Evan Chandler and June Chandler for alleged compensatory damages for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrongful acts of sexual molestation.”
The document states that $15,331,250 was put into a trust fund for Jordan Chandler. Both of his parents, as well as their attorney Larry Feldman, got a cut of the settlement. (Barry Rothman and Dave Schwartz, two principle players in the case who were left out of the settlement, later filed their own individual lawsuits against Jackson). Eight pages detailing the payment were allegedly missing from Dimond’s copy of the settlement but according to Jackson’s current attorney, the negligence allegation included in the lawsuit prompted Jackson’s insurance company to step in and settle the case for him. This means that Jackson might not have paid the Chandlers anything. It also means that the insurance company most likely conducted their own investigation into the allegations and concluded that Jackson did not molest the boy; insurance companies generally do not settle if they believe the Defendant is liable. They will, however, settle for negligent behaviour.
DISMISSAL OF THE ACTION:
The document also shows that the Chandlers dropped the child molestation allegations from their complaint:
“Forthwith upon the signing of this Confidential Settlement by the Parties hereto, the Minor through his Guardian ad Litem shall dismiss, without prejudice, the first through sixth causes of action of the complaint on file in the Action, leaving only the seventh cause of action pending.”
“Upon the full and complete payment of all Settlement Payments… the Minor, through his Guardian ad Litem, shall dismiss the entire action with prejduice.”
The first through sixth causes of action were the sexual abuse allegations; the seventh cause of action was negligence. Again, Jackson settled over the family’s claims of negligence and not over their claims of child molestation.
WAS IT HUSH MONEY?
Finally, the document makes it clear that the Chandlers could have still testified against Jackson in a criminal trial:
“The Minor, by and through his Guardian ad Litem, and Evan Chandler and June Chandler , and each of them individually and on behalf of their respective agents, attorneys, media representatives, partners, heirs, administrators, executors, conservators, successors and assigns, agree not to cooperate with, represent, or provide any information, to any person or entity that initiates any civil claim or action which relates in any manner to the subject matter of the Action against Jackson or any of the Jackson Releases, except as may be required by law.”
The only stipulation in the settlement is that the parties could not testify about the allegations in civil court.
“In the event the Minor, the Minor’s Legal Guardians, the Minor’s Guardian ad Litem, the Minor’s attorneys, Evan Chandler or June Chandler, or any of them individually… receive a subpoena or request for information from any person or entity who has asserted or is investigating, any claim against Jackson… they agree to give notice in writing to Jackson’s attorneys regarding the nature and scope of any such subpoena request for information, to the extent permitted by law. This notice shall be given before responding to the request.”
The above paragraph makes it clear that the Chandlers were not prohibited from testifying against Jackson in a criminal trial, as long as they notified Jackson’s attorneys beforehand. Contrary to popular belief, the settlement did NOT silence anybody. It was the family’s own decision not to testify in the criminal case; they could have gotten money and justice but they only opted to take the money.
Ask yourself this: if your child was molested, would you not do everything in your power to put the person responsible behind bars? The Chandlers did not. Instead, they dropped the claims of child abuse against Jackson, signed a document where he basically called them liars, took his money and refused to talk to authorities. I have already pointed out the numerous reasons why Jackson settled the case; what reason did the Chandlers have to not testify?
One could argue that they did not want to be put through a public trial, however, this assertion does not make sense when you consider the fact that the Chandlers were more than willing to testify in the civil trial. In fact, court documents reveal that the only reason the judge refused to stay the civil proceedings was because Feldman was allegedly worried that Jordan Chandler would forget his story when testifying. Furthermore, Evan Chandler later sued Jackson and asked the court to allow him to produce an album of songs about the allegations. The actions of the Chandlers are not indicative of a family reluctant to tell their story.
For the past ten years, the media have been referring to the settlement as a “pay off” but here is my question: what exactly did Michael Jackson “buy” when he settled the civil lawsuit? How can anyone call it “hush money” when it did not prevent the accuser from testifying against him? How can anyone call it “hush money” when the entire world already knew about the allegations? How can anyone call it “hush money” when there was still an ongoing criminal investigation that was not affected by the civil suit?
Finally, Evan Chandler asked for $20 million before the allegations were reported to authorities. Assuming Michael Jackson had actually molested Jordan Chandler, why did he not take that opportunity to avoid getting caught? He could have paid Evan Chandler and avoided the entire ordeal. Instead, he rejected Chandler’s initial demand for money. If he was guilty, why did he do that?
If it is still your contention that Jackson’s plan was to settle the civil lawsuit in order to bribe the boy into not testifying against him in the criminal trial, can you please explain to me why Michael Jackson asked for the civil trial to be postponed? He wanted the civil trial to take place after the criminal trial was resolved, which means any potential settlement would have been negotiated after Jackson was either acquitted or convicted. This would have made it impossible for him to “bribe” the boy into not testifying. Jackson’s actions contradict the notion that he wanted to buy Jordan Chandler’s silence.
A more logical explanation as to why Michael Jackson settled is that he was innocent and although he initially refused to be blackmailed by Evan Chandler, he had no choice in the end. Once the alleged abuse was brought to the attention of authorities, it suddenly became apparent to Jackson just how ugly things would get. The media went into overkill, the justice system was not working in his favor and the civil lawsuit filed by the Chandlers had backed Jackson into a corner. He could have either gone through with the civil trial and risked a weakened defense in the more important criminal trial or settled the civil lawsuit and risked people thinking he had something to hide. Obviously, Michael Jackson valued his life more than he valued the opinions of other people so he opted to settle the lawsuit.
Once the civil lawsuit was settled, Michael Jackson still had the criminal investigation to contend with.
THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
– When the boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993 refused to cooperate with authorities, the police investigation fell apart.
– Police obtained Jackson’s telephone books and contacted about thirty children and their families. Although investigators allegedly used aggressive interrogation techniques to scare the children into making accusations against Jackson, they still could not find another accuser. All of the children questioned maintained that Jackson had never sexually abused them.
– In an attempt to find corroborating evidence, the Santa Barbara Police Department subjected Jackson to a strip search to see if the description the accuser provided of Jackson’s genitalia was accurate. According to an article from USA Today: “photos of Michael Jackson’s genitalia do not match descriptions given by the boy who accused the singer of sexual misconduct.”
– By February 1994, police still did not have a witness who was willing to testify against Jackson. Investigators consequently turned to the tabloids for leads, contacting several of Jackson’s former employees who had sold their stories to the media. For example, investigators flew to the Philippines to interview the Quindoys, a couple who had told the tabloids that they’d seen Jackson act inappropriately with a child. Police decided that their story was not credible based on the fact that the more money they received, the more salacious their story became.
– Police also got in contact with Blanca Francia, Jackson’s former maid who had sold her story to Hard Copy for $20,000. On December 15 1993, Francia told the tabloid show that she had witnessed Jackson showering with young boys and that she had also seen him act inappropriately with her own son. Francia repeated these statements in a sworn deposition for the Chandlers’ civil lawsuit. While under deposition by one of Jackson’s attorneys, however, Francia admitted that she had exaggerated details during her Hard Copy interview and that the producers had paid her for her story.
– In the mid 90s, Francia threatened to accuse Jackson of molesting her son unless she received money from the Jackson camp. To avoid the negative publicity that would have inevitably resulted from a second child abuse allegation, Jackson’s associates advised him to quietly settle the case. After receiving $2 million from Jackson, Francia did not go forward with the civil lawsuit.
– While Francia seemed more than willing to make accusations against Jackson in exchange for financial compensation, she did not have anything incriminating to reveal when authorities questioned her during the criminal investigation in 1994. Contrary to what she had previously claimed (and to what she would claim in the future), Francia told investigators that her son had repeatedly denied being sexually abused by Jackson. Here is an excerpt from a USA Today article that was published on February 7th, 1994:
Investigators from the county sheriff’s office recently arranged for the 13-year-old son of Jackson’s former maid to see a therapist. The boy was first interviewed by police after his mother told them he had spent time alone with Jackson. According to his mother, the child has repeatedly denied being abused in any way by the pop music star.
The offer of a therapist was made after the woman, an immigrant from Central America, complained about meetings and phone conversations sheriff’s deputies had with the boy while she was not present.
It made her “feel uncomfortable,” she said in a deposition, that she didn’t know what the deputies were talking about with the young boy. When she asked them “who should I talk to” about her concerns, they arranged for the woman and her son to see separate therapists at the county’s expense, she said in the sworn statement.
– In 1994, two grand juries were convened to hear evidence in the Jackson case but no charges were ever brought; in fact, evidence was so scant that prosecutors did not even ask for an indictment. According to a report from CNN that aired on May 2, 1994: “One jury member said no damaging evidence was heard.”
– If the case against Jackson was so weak, why did District Attorney Tom Sneddon spend the next ten years slandering Jackson’s name in the press?
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY Tom Sneddon
– After having spent millions of dollars on the Michael Jackson investigation in 1993, District Attorney Tom Sneddon did not find enough evidence to bring charges against the pop star.
– Over the next few years, Sneddon and several of his employees made numerous statements to the press where they implied that there was indeed evidence to corroborate Jordan Chandler’s story. They failed to explain, however, why two grand juries did not indict Michael Jackson if such evidence actually existed.
– According to reporter Geraldo Rivera, members of the Santa Barbara Police Department were shown footage of the strip search of Jackson’s genitalia. “I’ve got a videotape that was shown to every cop in Santa Barbara of Michael Jackson’s penis,” Rivera said.
– In 1995, Jackson wrote a song about Tom Sneddon that appeared on his album HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book I. In the song, Jackson claims that he was over-targetted by the DA’s office and accuses Sneddon of being obsessed with attaining political fame.
– Many legal experts dismissed the idea that Sneddon would prosecute Jackson solely for his own self-aggrandizement but perhaps there are other motives involved. According to Thambiah Sundaram, a dentist who filed and won a lawsuit against Santa Barbara prosecutors in 1996, the commercial prospects of Neverland might be one factor influencing authorities relentless pursuit of Jackson.
– In 1994, Sundaram attended a private fundraising event where he allegedly heard Sneddon discuss a plan to run Jackson out of Santa Barbara and turn Neverland into a winery. According to Sundaram, Sneddon planned to do this by finding another child to accuse Jackson of sexual abuse. While Sundaram’s allegations are difficult to prove or disprove at this point, it is a widely known fact that winemaking is the leading agricultural industry in Santa Barbara, accounting for about $360 million of the county’s annual economy. The Santa Ynez Valley, where Jackson owns almost 3,000 acres of land, is particularly well suited for growing grapes because of its ideal climate and soil conditions. Numerous wineries located in the Santa Ynez Valley are looking to expand but there isn’t enough available land in the area to do so.
– Whether or not Sundaram’s allegations have any merit remains to be seen, but there are other facts that point to Sneddon having a vendetta against Michael Jackson. Sneddon said in a press conference that after 1993, he changed certain California laws pertaining to child molestation specifically because of the Michael Jackson case.
– In 1995, Sneddon told Vanity Fair magazine: “The state of the investigation [of Jackson] is in suspension until somebody comes forward.”
– Upon viewing the Living with Michael Jackson documentary that aired in February 2003, Sneddon saw an opportunity to re-open the case. In a press statement released on February 6, 2003, Sneddon said: “After conversations with Sheriff Jim Anderson, it was agreed that the BBC broadcast would be taped by the Sheriff’s Department. It is anticipated that it will be reviewed.”
– Regarding Jackson’s comments that there is nothing wrong with sharing a bedroom with a child, Sneddon replied by saying it was, “unusual at best. For this reason, all local departments having responsibility in this are taking the matter seriously.” He then urged any victims to come forward.
– Shortly after this statement was released, Sneddon gave an interview to tabloid reporter Diane Dimond where he discussed the 1993 case.
– Coincidentally, the boy who appeared in Living with Michael Jackson – the documentary that Sneddon taped and watched – is the same boy who ended up becoming Jackson’s second accuser. Did Sneddon have something to do with this boy coming forward?
– During his testimony at a pre-trial hearing, Sneddon admitted to having met with the second accuser’s mother in an empty parking lot to give her papers that would qualify her for a state victim’s fund. He also personally investigated the second set of allegations against Michael Jackson, a job that is supposed to be carried out by investigators.
– Linda Fairstein, a leading sex crimes prosecutor, said of Sneddon’s actions: “It’s way too personal. It’s way out of line. If he does any substantive parts of an investigation, he may become a witness in the case.” She continued: “It lets these very talented defense attorneys take him apart before the jury and explain that it’s not his place to do that. He creates trouble in and out of the courtroom for himself by taking on that role.”
επιμέλεια – μετάφραση : Αρης Μιχαλόπουλος
Αρχική πηγή: http://theun-blindzone.blogspot.com/
Πολλοί νομίζουν ότι γνωρίζουν την ιστορία του Μάικλ Τζάκσον. Και αν κάποιος τους ρωτήσει, πιθανότατα να απαντήσουν κάπως έτσι: ο Τζάκσον κατηγορήθηκε δύο φορές(την πρώτη φορά το 1993 και τη δεύτερη το 2005) για σεξουαλική παρενόχληση ανηλίκου, αλλά κατάφερε να τη “γλιτώσει”, γιατί το 1993 συμβιβάστηκε εξωδικαστικά με την οικογένεια του παιδιού, καταβάλλοντας ένα τεράστιο χρηματικό ποσό, ενώ τη δεύτερη φορά τον βοήθησε το διάσημο προφίλ του και φυσικά οι πολύ καλοί συνήγοροι που είχε προσλάβει. Μέχρι τώρα όλα καλά; ΛΑΘΟΣ.
Ας κάνουμε λοιπόν μια προσπάθεια να ερευνήσουμε με αντικειμενικό τρόπο το τι ακριβώς έγινε το 1993,χρονιά που ξέσπασε το πρώτο σκάνδαλο σεξουαλικής παρενόχλησης, και το ρόλο που τα ΜΜΕ διαδραμάτισαν στην όλη υπόθεση. Αυτό φυσικά, θα αποδειχτεί λίγο δύσκολο καθώς το μεγαλύτερο μέρος των ουσιαστικά σημαντικών πληροφοριών που αφορούσαν την υπόθεση, δεν παρουσιάστηκε από δημοσιογράφους και τηλεοπτικά μέσα, τα οποία πληρώνονταν για να κάνουν αυτό ακριβώς. Αυτός είναι και ένας από τους λόγους που η πλειοψηφία του κοινού αγνοεί μέχρι και σήμερα ακόμη, ότι τα “γεγονότα” που του παρουσιάστηκαν, τόσο το 1993 όσο και το 2003/5, δεν είχαν καμία ομοιότητα με την αλήθεια που κρυβόταν πίσω από τα πρωτοσέλιδα και την πανταχού παρούσα τηλεοπτική κάλυψη.
Θα ήταν, φυσικά, γελοίο και αφελές να περιμένει κανείς ότι δημοσιογράφοι, εκδότες και τηλεοπτικοί σταθμοί θα αγνοούσαν την εμπορική “αξία” των κατηγοριών που αντιμετώπισε ο Τζάκσον από το 1993 και έπειτα. Εξετάζοντας όμως την αρνητική αφήγηση που επιδίωξε μια ολόκληρη βιομηχανία, γίνεται εύκολα αντιληπτό ότι η συμπεριφορά των μέσων ως σύνολο- και ιδίως ορισμένων ατόμων μέσα σε αυτήν- ξεπέρασε τα επιτρεπτά όρια για κάθε επάγγελμα.
Η άκρως αποδοτική παρουσίαση του Τζάκσον ως “τέρας” ήταν από κοινού σκόπιμη και αποτελεσματική. Όμως εξετάζοντας τον τρόπο που αυτό επιτεύχθηκε, είναι δυνατό να κατανοήσουμε πως χτίστηκε ένας μύθος.
Χωρίς αμφιβολία η ιστορία του Μάικλ Τζάκσον είναι πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα. Και ενώ πολλοί ενδιαφέρονται για τον τρόπο που πέθανε, για κάποιους άλλους το μεγαλύτερο ερώτημα είναι ο τρόπος που έζησε. Ενδιαφέρονται με λίγα λόγια να μάθουν εάν ο Τζάκσον το έκανε. Εάν ο Τζάκσον παρενόχλησε νεαρά αγόρια. Ή μήπως αυτή η επικρατούσα αντίληψη για τον τραγουδιστή είναι «μια δολοφονία χαρακτήρα
σε μια κλίμακα που δεν έχουμε ξαναδεί;», όπως το έθεσε ένας βρετανός δημοσιογράφος;
Παρ’όλο που οι περισσότεροι λογικοί άνθρωποι είναι πρόθυμοι να αποδεχτούν το φιάσκο με τις κατηγορίες του 2005 (για τις οποίες ο Τζακσον αθωώθηκε πανηγυρικά), ερωτώμενοι για το πώς νιώθουν για τον Μαικλ Τζάκσον κατά κανόνα θα πούν ,« όλα καταλήγουν στην υπόθεση του 1993, έτσι δεν είναι;» Στη συνέχεια με αυτοπεποίθηση θα “απαγγείλουν” τους τρεις “λόγους” για τους οποίους ξέρουν με σιγουριά ότι ο Τζάκσον ήταν ένοχος.
Πρώτον, ότι ο Jordan Chandler κατηγόρησε τον Τζάκσον ότι τον παρενόχλησε. Δεύτερον, ότι ο Jordan Chandler περιέγραψε με ακρίβεια τα γεννητικά όργανα του Τζάκσον και, τέλος, ότι ο Τζάκσον πλήρωσε τον Jordan για να εξαγοράσει τη σιωπή του.
Τίποτα δεν θα μπορούσε να είναι πιο μακριά από την αλήθεια. Γιατί αντίθετα με ό,τι πιστεύουν οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι, αυτά τα τρία “τρία” γεγονότα, είναι στην πραγματικότητα μύθος. [Link]
Ο Jordan Chandler, το παιδί στο κέντρο των κατηγοριών , του οποίου η οικογένεια είχε συνδεθεί φιλικά με τον Jackson τον Μάιο του 1992, αρνήθηκε επανειλημμένα ότι είχε κακοποιηθεί από τον Τζάκσον, μέχρι τη στιγμή που απομακρύνθηκε από την κηδεμονία της μητέρας του, June Chandler. Μέχρι τον Αύγουστο του 1993,το μόνο πρόσωπο που κατηγορούσε τον Τζάκσον για το οτιδήποτε, ήταν ο πατέρας του παιδιού, Evan Chandler. Η σχέση μεταξύ των διαζευγμένων γονιών του Jordan, ήδη ασταθής, επιδεινώθηκε ραγδαία όταν οι προσπάθειες του Evan να πείσει τον Τζάκσον να του αγοράσει ένα σπίτι απέτυχαν. Ήταν μόνο μετά από αυτή την απόρριψη που ο Ένan πρωτοέθεσε το θέμα της παρενόχλησης. Και ήταν μόνο όταν ο Jordan βρέθηκε κάτω από την ψυχολογικό έλεγχο του Evan , ενός ανθρώπου που το 2006 θα επιτεθεί βίαια εναντίoν του γιού του, που ο Jordan θα κατηγορήσει τον Jackson.
O Eνan, οδοντίατρος, που κάποια στιγμή κινδύνεψε να χάσει την άδεια εξάσκησης του επαγγέλματος ,γιατί το συμβούλιο των Οδοντιάτρων βρήκε την εργασία του «ακραία αναποτελεσματική», επιδίωκε μια καριέρα ως σεναριογράφος. (Mάλιστα είχε ήδη γράψει το σενάριο της ταινία: Ρομπέν των Δασών-Οι άντρες με τα κολάν) Μέχρι τη στιγμή εκείνη, ο Έvan είχε δείξει λίγο ενδιαφέρον για το γιό του (χρωστούσε στη γυναίκα του 68,000 δολάρια σε διατροφή),άλλα όλα άλλαξαν όταν έμαθε για τη φιλία του Τζάκσον με τον Jordan. Το 1994, η Mary A. Fischer ανέφερε ότι ο πατριός του Jordan, Dave Schwartz, πίστευε ότι ο λόγος για τον οποίο ο Evan επέμενε ότι ο Jackson είχε παρενοχλήσει το γιό του, «ήταν επειδή [ο Evan] θέλει χρήματα.»
Σύμφωνα με τον πρώην δικηγόρο της June Schwartz, Michael Freeman, o πατέρας του παιδιού και πρώην σύζυγος της June, Evan Chandler, «άρχισε να ζηλεύει τη σχέση τους [με τον Τζάκσον] και ένοιωσε παραμελημένος»
Τον Ιούνιο του 1993, ο Evan Chandler προσέλαβε τον δικηγόρο Barry Rothman για να τον εκπροσωπήσει στον δικαστικό του αγώνα με την June Schwartz για την κηδεμονία του Jordan. O Rothman δεν αναλάμβανε οικογενειακές υποθέσεις, άλλα πρόσφατα είχε χειριστεί μια υπόθεση επιμέλειας που περιελάμβανε ισχυρισμούς παιδικής κακοποίησης.
Στην αποφοίτηση του Jordan από τη δευτέρα γυμνασίου, ο Evan Chandler ήρθε αντιμέτωπος με την πρώην σύζυγό του για τις υποτιθέμενες υποψίες του σχετικά με σεξουαλικό παράπτωμα από την πλευρά του Μάικλ Τζάκσον. Ο Freeman δηλώσε ότι η June Schwartz είπε ότι «το όλο πράγμα είναι μια ανοησία» και ανακοίνωσε ότι εκείνη και τα παιδια της εξακολουθούσαν να σχεδίαζουν να συνοδέψουν τον Τζάκσον στην παγκόσμια περιοδεία του. Σύμφωνα με τον Freedman, o Chandler στη συνέχεια απείλησε να αποκαλύψει τις υποψίες του στον Τύπο.
Η συμπεριφορά του Chandler παρακίνησε τον Τζάκσον να προσλάβει τον δικηγόρο Bert Fields και τον ιδιωτικό ερευνητή Anthony Pellicano. Στις 8 Ιουλίου,o Dave Schwartz ,πατριός του Jordan Chandler, ακολουθώντας τη συμβουλή του Pellicano, κατέγραψε μια τηλεφωνική συνομιλία που έλαβε χώρα μεταξύ του ίδιου και του Evan Chandler. Ο Dave προσπαθούσε να προσδιορίσει το λόγο που ο Εvan ζητούσε συνάντηση μεταξύ του Μάικλ,του Jordan, της June, του Dave και του ίδιου,την επόμενη μέρα. Στην κασέτα, ό Chandler δήλωνε:
«Είχα μια καλή επικοινωνία με τον Μάικλ. Ήμασταν φίλοι. Τον συμπαθούσα και τον σεβόμουν κτλ για αυτό που είναι. Δεν υπήρχε κάποιος λόγος για τον οποίο θα έπρεπε να σταματήσει να μου τηλεφωνεί. Κάθισα μια μέρα στο δωμάτιο μαζί με τον Μάικλ, του μίλησα και του είπα ακριβώς αυτό που θέλω από όλη αυτή τη σχέση. Έχω κάνει πρόβες για το τι να πω και τι να μην πω.»
«[ο Τζάκσον] διέλυσε την οικογένεια,[ο Jordan] έχει παραπλανηθεί από την εξουσία και τα χρήματα αυτού του τύπου.»
«Είμαι διατεθειμένος να κινηθώ εναντίον του Μάικλ Τζάκσον. Είναι ήδη οργανωμένο. Υπάρχουν και άλλα άτομα που εμπλέκονται που περιμένουν τηλεφώνημά μου τα,οποία βρίσκονται σε ορισμένες θέσεις. Μόλις κάνω αυτό το τηλεφώνημα, αυτός ο τύπος θα καταστρέψει όλους όσους βρεθούν μπροστά του με τον πιο ύπουλο, άσχημο, σκληρό τρόπο που μπορεί να το κάνει. Και του έχω δώσει πλήρη εξουσία για να το κάνει.»
«Και αν το προχωρήσω αυτό, θα τα αρπάξω χοντρά. Δεν υπάρχει περίπτωση να χάσω. Το έχω ψάξει απ’ όλες τις πλευρές. Θα πάρω όλα όσα θέλω, και αυτοί θα καταστραφούν για πάντα. Η June θα χάσει [την κηδεμονία του παιδιού] και η καριέρα του Μάικλ θα τελειώσει.»
«[Το καλό του Jordan] είναι άσχετο για μένα. Θα είναι μεγαλύτερο απ’ όλους μας μαζί. Το όλο θέμα πρόκειται να συντριβεί πάνω σε όλους και θα καταστρέψει όλους όσους τους αφορά. Θα γίνει σφαγή εάν δεν πάρω αυτά που θέλω.»
«Αυτός ο δικηγόρος που έχω βρει, διάλεξα το πιο επικίνδυνο κάθαρμα που θα μπορούσα να βρώ. Το μόνο που θέλει να κάνει είναι να το βγάλει όλο αυτό στη δημοσιότητα όσο πιο γρήγορα γίνεται, όσο πιο δυνατά γίνεται, και να εξευτελίσει όσους περισσότερους ανθρώπους γίνεται. Είναι μοχθηρός, είναι κακός, είναι πολύ έξυπνος, και είναι πεινασμένος για δημοσιότητα.»
Στις 9 Ιουλίου του 1993, ο Dave Schwartz και η June Chandler, αντί να συναντηθούν με τον Evan Chandler, παρουσίασαν τη μαγνητοσκοπημένη συνομιλία στον Pellicano. Στη συνέχεια ο Pellicano εξέτασε τον Jordan Chandler (10 Ιουλίου 1993), κάνοντας του συγκεκριμένες ερωτήσεις σχετικά με το αν ο Michael τον είχε παρενοχλήσει. Ο Pellicano έχει δηλώσει ότι ο Jordan αρνήθηκε επανειλημμένα ότι είχε παρενοχληθεί ποτέ από τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον- μάλιστα, ό Jordan αρνήθηκε ότι είχε δει ποτέ τον Τζάκσον γυμνό. Ο ερευνητής ικανοποιήθηκε από τα αποτελέσματα της συνέντευξης. Με βάση τη φήμη του, εάν ο Pellicano είχε κάποιο λόγο να πιστεύει ότι κάτι ανάρμοστο είχε συμβεί μεταξύ του Jordan και του Μάικλ, θα είχε πάρει μέτρα προκειμένου να το κρύψει. Το ψευδώνυμό του στο Χόλιγουντ ήταν « ο άνθρωπος που καταπίνει τις αμαρτίες.» Ο Pellicano όμως δεν έκανε κάτι τέτοιο. Αντίθετα, έγινε σύμμαχος του Τζάκσον στην αντιμετώπιση του εκβιασμού.
Στα μέσα Ιουλίου, ο Evan Chandler έπεισε την πρώην σύζυγό του να του επιτρέψει να κρατήσει τον γιό τους για μια εβδομάδα. Από εκείνο το σημείο, το αγόρι απομονώθηκε από τους φίλους του και τα μελή της οικογένειάς του.
Σύμφωνα με την πρώην νομική βοηθό του Rothman, Geraldine Hughes,o Chandler λάμβανε συμβουλές από τον Rothman για το πώς να αναφέρει παιδική κακοποίηση χωρίς να χρεωθεί ευθύνη στους γονείς.
Ακολουθώντας τις συμβουλές του Rothman, o Chandler επικοινώνησε με τον ψυχίατρο Mathis Abrams και του παρουσίασε μια υποθετική κατάσταση (δηλαδή – ο γιός μου πέρασε αρκετό χρόνο μόνος με έναν ενήλικα- είναι πιθανό να έχει υπάρξει σεξουαλική κακοποίηση και αν ναι, ποίοι είναι οι τρόποι που μπορεί να αναφερθεί στις αστυνομικές αρχές;) Σε μια γραπτή απάντηση στο τηλεφώνημα του Chandler, ο Αbrams έγραψε ότι αν ένα παιδί έκανε καταγγελίες σεξουαλικής παρενόχλησης κατά τη διάρκεια θεραπευτικής συνεδρίας, ο ψυχίατρος θα ήταν υποχρεωμένος από το νόμο να το αναφέρει στην αστυνομία.
Ο Chandler πήρε το γράμμα και, σύμφωνα με τον Pellicano, προσπάθησε να εκβιάσει τον Τζάκσον με αυτό. Σε μια συνάντηση που πραγματοποιήθηκε στις αρχές Αυγούστου του 1993,o Chandler φαίνεται ότι απαίτησε συμφωνία αξίας 20 εκατομμυρίων για τη συγγραφή σεναρίου με αντάλλαγμα να μην προχωρήσει με τις κατηγορίες για σεξουαλική κακοποίηση ανηλίκου.
Αρκετές μέρες μετά τη συνάντηση, ο Pellicano κατέγραψε μια συνομιλία μεταξύ του ίδιου, του Barry Rothman και του Evan Chandler. Στην κασέτα, ο Rothman και ο Chandler ακούγονται να διαπραγματεύονται το ποσό των χρημάτων που θα χρειαζόταν για να αποτρέψει τον Chandler από το να κάνει καταγγελίες για παρενόχληση ανηλίκου. Ο Chandler επανέλαβε την απαίτησή του για 20 εκατομμύρια και, σύμφωνα με την Geraldine Hughes, ο Pellicano του είπε ότι ο Τζάκσον δεν θα του έδινε κανένα χρηματικό ποσό. Μέχρι τις 13 Αυγούστου, οι διαπραγματεύσεις αυτές είχαν αποτύχει ανεπανόρθωτα. Λάβετε υπόψη ότι,εάν ο Τζάκσον είχε προσφέρει στον Chandler χρήματα σε εκείνο το σημείο, η ποινική έρευνα θα είχε αποφευχθεί και η όλη ιστορία δεν θα είχε μαθευτεί ποτέ.
Η βραβευμένη δημοσιογράφος Mary Fischer, μιλώντας το 1994 σε ένα ντοκιμαντέρ του PBS παρατήρησε, « Δεν μπόρεσαν να καταλήξουν σε κάποιο είδος αμοιβαίας συμφωνίας, αλλά αν το είχαν κάνει, αυτό που είναι ενδιαφέρον είναι ότι η υπόθεση δεν θα είχε προχωρήσει πέρα από εκείνο το δωμάτιο.»
Σύμφωνα με έναν δημοσιογράφο από το KCBS-TV, o Evan Chandler, στη συνέχεια, έδωσε στο γιο του ένα αμφιλεγόμενο φάρμακο γνωστό ως sodium amytal. Είναι ευρέως τεκμηριωμένο ότι μπορεί εύκολα κάποιος να «φυτέψει» ψευδείς αναμνήσεις στη μνήμη ενός ανθρώπου, όταν είναι κάτω από την επήρεια αυτού του φαρμάκου.
Ο Evan Chandler υποστήριξε ότι χρησιμοποίησε το sodium amytal ώστε να μπορέσει να βγάλει το δόντι του Jordan και ενώ βρισκόταν κάτω από την επήρεια του φαρμάκου, το αγόρι έκανε τους συγκεκριμένους ισχυρισμούς. Σύμφωνα με τον Mark Torbiner, τον αναισθησιολόγο που χορήγησε το φάρμακο, : «Εάν χρησιμοποίησα το φάρμακο, ήταν μόνο για ιατρικούς σκοπούς.» Πολλοί ειδικοί επιστήμονες, ωστόσο, έχουν συμφωνήσει ότι η χρήση του sodium amytal για την εξαγωγή ενός δοντιού θα ήταν ,στην καλύτερη περίπτωση, μια πολύ αμφισβητήσιμη πρακτική.
Η χρήση του sodium amytal από την Έvan Chandler προκειμένου να αποσπάσει ομολογία από τον γιό του,επιβεβαιώνεται και από τον ίδιο τον Jordie Chandler. Κατά τη διάρκεια μίας συνέντευξης με έναν ψυχίατρο, το αγόρι ανακάλεσε την πρώτη φορά που είπε στον πατέρα του για την υποτιθέμενη σεξουαλική κακοποίηση : [Ο πατέρας μου] έπρεπε να μου βγάλει το δόντι, ε, όταν ήμουν εκεί. Και δεν μου αρέσει ο πόνος, έτσι είπα «θα μπορούσες να με ναρκώσεις;» Και αυτός είπε «βεβαίως.» Και έτσι ο φίλος του με νάρκωσε – ο φίλος του είναι αναισθησιολόγος. Και εμ, όταν ξύπνησα το δόντι μου είχε βγεί, και ήμουν εντάξει- λίγο ζαλισμένος, αλλά είχα τις αισθήσεις μου. Και ο πατέρας μου είπε – και ο φίλος του είχε φύγει, ήμουν μόνο εγώ κι εκείνος – και ο πατέρας μου είπε, «Θέλω μόνο να μου πεις, συνέβη τίποτα μεταξύ του Μάικλ και εσένα;» Και εγώ είπα, «Ναι» ,και αυτός με αγκάλιασε σφιχτά και αυτό ήταν» [Σημείωση: Τα πρακτικά της συνέντευξης του Jordan Chandler με τον ψυχίατρο, δόθηκαν στη δημοσιότητα από τον θείο του, Ray Chandler]
Στις 16 Αυγούστου, η June Chandler συνειδητοποιώντας ότι ο Evan σκόπευε να κρατήσει τον Jordan επ’ αόριστον, εξουσιοδότησε τον δικηγόρο της, Freeman, να υποβάλει αίτημα στο δικαστήριο για την επιστροφή του Jordan στην επιμέλειά της. Ο Freeman ενημέρωσε τον Rothman ότι η εντολή αυτή επρόκειτο να εφαρμοστεί το επόμενο πρωί. Ο Rothman ενημέρωσε άμεσα τον πελάτη του, Evan. Το επόμενο πρωί,αν και βρισκόταν στο δικαστήριο, ο Chandler δεν έκανε καμία αναφορά στους ισχυρισμούς για κακοποίηση ανηλίκου. Εάν ο Evan είχε πει στο δικαστή για τις υποτιθέμενες υποψίες που είχε τις τελευταίες τρείς εβδομάδες, ο δικαστής θα είχε διατάξει την άμεση απομάκρυνση του παιδιού από τη μητέρα του. Όμως ο Evan δεν είπε τίποτα, προφανώς επειδή το σχέδιό του ήταν να αναφέρει την παρενόχληση χρησιμοποιώντας ένα τρίτο μέλος (τον ψυχίατρο.) Το δικαστήριο διέταξε τον Evan Chandler να επιστρέψει άμεσα τον Jordie στη μητέρα του.
Στις 17 Αυγούστου, την ίδια ημέρα που o Jordan Chandler έπρεπε να επιστρέψει στην μητέρα του, ο Evan τον πήγε στον Mathias Abrams, τον ψυχίατρο που ο Rothman είχε ήδη προετοιμάσει για αυτήν ακριβώς την τροπή των γεγονότων. Ο Jordan επανέλαβε την ιστορία της παρενόχλησης. Ο Mathias, υποχρεωμένος από τον νόμο της Καλιφόρνιας, ανέφερε την κατηγορία στις αρχές, κάτι που τόσο ο Evan όσο και ο Rothman γνώριζαν ότι ήταν υποχρεωμένος να κάνει. Αυτό είχε σαν αποτέλεσμα να ξεκινήσει η αστυνομική έρευνα για τις καταγγελίες εναντίον του Michael Jackson.
Η αστυνομική έρευνα
Στις 23-24 Αυγούστου του 1993,και ένω ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον βρισκόταν έκτος Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών, το αστυνομικό τμήμα του Λος Άντζελες διεξήγαγε έρευνα στο ράντζο του Τζάκσον με την ονομασία Νέβερλαντ και στο διαμέρισμα του στο Century City. Κατά τη διάρκεια της έρευνα, οι αστυνομικοί υπάλληλοι κατέσχεσαν δύο φωτογραφικά βιβλία, τα οποία ο Tom Sneddon ,λόγο έλλειψης στοιχείων,θα προσπαθούσε να χρησιμοποιήσει εναντίον του τραγουδιστή και στη δίκη του 2005. Το πρώτο βιβλίο, που είχε τον τίτλο «Το αγόρι: Ένα φωτογραφικό δοκίμιο», ήταν ένα βιβλίο τέχνης που απεικόνιζε φωτογραφίες γυμνών και ντυμένων παιδιών,οι οποίες τραβήχτηκαν κατά τη διάρκεια των γυρισμάτων της ταινίας του 1963 « Lord of the Flies.» Στο βιβλίο ο Τζάκσον είχε γράψει « κοιτάξτε το πραγματικό πνεύμα και την ευτυχία στα πρόσωπα αυτών των αγορίων. Αυτό είναι το πνεύμα της παιδική ηλικίας, μιας ηλικίας που εγώ δεν είχα ποτέ. Αυτή είναι η ζωή που θέλω για τα παιδιά μου. MJ». Το δεύτερο βιβλίο, που έφερε τον τίτλο «Τα αγόρια θα παραμείνουν αγόρια» περιείχε την επιγραφή: « Στον Μάικλ : Από τη φαν σου Rhonda. Mε αγάπη ΧΧΧΟΟΟ ♥ Rhonda – 1983, Σικάγο.» Το βιβλίο ήταν ακόμη στην αρχική του συσκευασία.
Είναι σημαντικό να επισημανθεί ότι η απλή κατοχή και μόνο παιδικής πορνογραφίας είναι ομοσπονδιακό έγκλημα. Αν στην κατοχή του Τζάσκον είχαν βρεθεί στοιχεία παιδικής πορνογραφίας, η δίωξή του θα ήταν αναπόφευκτη.
Η έλλειψη αποδεικτικών στοιχείων επιβεβαιώθηκε και από αξιωματικό του αστυνομικού τμήματος του Λος Άντζελες , ο οποίος ,το 1993, είπε στην εφημερίδα LA Times ότι, « κανένα στοιχείο (ιατρικό, φωτογραφικό ή βίντεο) δεν βρέθηκε που θα μπορούσε να υποστηρίξει εγκληματικές κατηγορίες» εναντίον του Τζάκσον.
Στις 7 Σεπτεμβρίου του 1993, η αστυνομία του Λος Άντζελες επικοινώνησε με το Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), για βοήθεια στην έρευνά τους σχετικά με τον Michael Jackson. Σύμφωνα με αίτημα που υποβλήθηκε το 2009, οι φάκελοι του FBI δημοσιοποιήθηκαν στο κοινό τον Δεκέμβριο του ίδιου χρόνου. Τα αρχεία του FBI αποτελούνται από πενήντα έξι (56) σελίδες υλικού που δείχνουν τη συμμετοχή τους από τις 16 Σεπτέμβριου του 1993, μέχρι τις 8 Αυγούστου του 1994, εννέα (9) σελίδες από τις 2 Σεπτέμβριου του 1993, μέχρι τις 22 Οκτωβρίου του 1993, και οχτώ (8) σελίδες από τις 30 Οκτωβρίου του 1995 μέχρι τις 24 Ιανουαρίου του 1997. Μια πλήρης εξέταση των φακέλων του FBI αποκαλύπτει ότι πέρα από τους κατήγορους του 1993 (Jordan Chandler) και του 2005 (Gavin Arvizo), που και οι δύο είχαν ίδιο δικηγόρο και ψυχίατρο, κανένας από τους άλλους ισχυρισμούς εναντίον του Τζακσον δεν ελήφθη σοβαρά υπόψη.
Η σωματική έρευνα
Ήδη από τον Οκτώβριο του 1993, γινόταν λόγος για απόκτηση εντάλματος που θα επέτρεπε στους αστυνομικούς ερευνητές να εξετάσουν τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον γυμνό. Σύμφωνα με την USA Today, στις 24 Νοεμβρίου του 1993 o Larry Fieldman είπε ότι ήθελε έναν γιατρό, «για να εξετάσει [τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον],» πιθανώς για να επιβεβαιώσουν με αυτόν τον τρόπο τις περιγραφές που είχε κάνει το αγόρι των γεννητικών οργάνων του Τζάκσον. Δεδομένου ότι στους ισχυρισμούς του αγοριού δεν αναφέρθηκε ποτέ η πράξη της διείσδυση, αυτός ήταν ο μόνος τρόπος για να τεκμηριωθούν τα λεγόμενά του.
Το Νοέμβριο του1993, ο εισαγγελέας μπόρεσε να απόκτησει ένα ένταλμα έρευνας. Το καθεαυτό ένταλμα, το οποίο υπαγόρευε την εξέταση, τη φωτογράφιση και τη βιντεοσκόπηση όλου του σώματος του Τζάκσον, «συμπεριλαμβανομένων του πέους, του πρωκτού, των γοφών, των γλουτών και οποιουδήποτε άλλο μέρος του σώματός του», εκτελέστηκε στις 20 Δεκεμβρίου στη Νέβερλαντ. Στους δικηγόρους του Τζάκσον δεν δόθηκε αντίγραφο της ένορκης δήλωσης του Jordan στο οποίο περιέγραφε το σώμα του Τζάκσον. Με αλλά λόγια, ούτε ο Τζάκσον, ούτε η ομάδα του γνώριζαν τι είδους ισχυρισμούς είχε κάνει το αγόρι.
Μπροστά στην παρουσία των δύο δικηγόρων του, του γιατρού Arnold Klein, του Louis Swayne που ήταν ο φωτογράφος του Τζάκσον, του Sergeant Gary Spiegel, που ήταν ο φωτογράφος του αστυνομικού τμήματος, του δρ. Richard Strick (δερματολόγος της αστυνομίας) και ενός σωματοφύλακα, ο Τζάκσον αφαίρεσε το μπουρνούζι του και στάθηκε στη μέση του δωματίου για 25 λεπτά,ενώ τον εξέταζαν στενά.
Για τον Τζάκσον, ο οποίος υπέφερε από το σύνδρομο της σωματικής δυσμορφίας και ήταν παθολογικά ντροπαλός, αυτή θα ήταν μια καθοριστική εμπειρία. Συγγενείς και φίλοι του τραγουδιστή έχουν πει ότι αυτή η απίστευτα ταπεινωτική διαδικασία, τραυμάτισε αμετάκλητα τον Τζάκσον.
Σε αντίθεση με τα λεγόμενα της αντίθετης πλευράς σε ό,τι αφορά τις φωτογραφίες, η σύγκριση μεταξύ της περιγραφής του Jordan Chandler και του σώματος του Τζάκσον διέφερε ως προς την πιο προφανή περιοχή:
Ο Jordan είχε δηλώσει ότι ο Τζάκσον είχε κάνει περιτομή. Ο Τζάκσον δεν είχε κάνει. Επειδή ο πατέρας του Jordan ήταν εβραϊκής καταγωγής, πιθανότατα το αγόρι να είχε κάνει και το ίδιο περιτομή και ετσι να πίστευε ότι όλοι οι άντρες έκαναν. Αυτό σήμαινε με λίγα λόγια ότι ο Jordan δεν είχε πολύ στενή γνώση του σώματος του Τζάκσον.
Για κάθε άνδρα, η διαφορά μεταξύ των δύο είναι καθοριστική. Οποιοσδήποτε ισχυρισμός,επομένως, ότι μια τέτοια θεμελιώδη διαφορά μπορεί να χαρακτηριστεί ως αντιστοιχία, είναι λάθος και μάλιστα πολύ σημαντικό.
«Το μαύρο σημάδι» που η Diane Dimond ισχυρίστηκε ότι ο Jordan είπε ότι βρισκόταν στην κάτω πλευρά του όσχεου του Τζάκσον, δεν φωτογραφήθηκε κατά τη διάρκεια της διαδικασίας, σύμφωνα με τον φωτογράφο της αστυνομίας. Αυτό το γεγονός – ότι δηλαδή δεν τραβήχτηκε ούτε μια φωτογραφία του μοναδικού «ενδεικτικού» σημαδιού, εξαιτίας του οποίου απ’ ότι φαίνεται επιτράπηκε εξαρχής η σωματική έρευνα- είναι αξιοσημείωτο.
Είναι σημαντικό να επισημανθεί ότι το Φεβρουάριο του 93, σε μια ευρέως διαφημιζόμενη συνέντευξη με την παρουσιάστρια Oprah Winfrey, o Jackson είπε στον κόσμο ότι είχε μια δερματική πάθηση. Έγινε γνωστό ότι το όνομα της πάθησης ήταν Vitiligo (λεύκη), και η αποκάλυψη του Τζάκσον έγινε ένα πολυσυζητημένο θέμα την εποχή εκείνη. Ως αποτέλεσμα,συζητήσεις γύρω από αυτό το θέμα απασχολούσαν κάθε τηλεοπτική και ραδιοφωνική εκπομπή, και τον Τύπο, με εικόνες από ασθενείς με Λεύκη να κυκλοφορούν σε όλα τα μέσα ενημέρωσης.
Είναι λογικό να υποστηριχθεί ότι ο Evan Chandler μπορεί επίσης να είχε δει αυτή την κάλυψη, ειδικά αφού ο Jordan ήταν ήδη φίλος με τον Τζάκσον κατά τη διάρκεια της συνέντευξης με την Winfrey. Υποτυπώδης έρευνα πάνω στη Λεύκη, αποκαλύπτει πληροφορίες που έχουν υπάρξει στη διάθεση του κοινού για πάνω από 20 χρόνια, όπως το γεγονός ότι η Λεύκη ξεκινά συνήθως στα άκρα, στα χέρια, τα πόδια και τα γεννητικά όργανα. Επομένως, εάν κάποιος ήθελε να εκβιάσει ένα άτομο το οποίο είναι γνωστό ότι υποφέρει από λεύκη, το να πει ότι τα γεννητικά του όργανα έχουν επηρεαστεί, σαφώς δεν είναι καθόλου παρακινδυνευμένο.
Τέλος, κάποιος δεν μπορεί παρά να κάνει και τις εξής σκέψεις: Σε περίπτωση που υπήρχε αντιστοιχία μεταξύ των περιγραφών που είχε κάνει το αγόρι των γενετικών οργάνων του Τζάκσον και των φωτογραφιών που τραβήχτηκαν, ο Τζάκσον θα είχε συλληφθεί. Ο τραγουδιστής δεν συνελήφθη ποτέ, γεγονός που από μόνο του μαρτυρά ότι η περιγραφή που είχε κάνει το αγόρι (αν την είχε κάνει ποτέ) ήταν ανακριβής.Επιπλέον, εάν ο Michael Jackson φοβόταν ότι στην περιγραφή που είχε κάνει το αγόρι μπορεί να υπήρχαν αντιστοιχίες, γιατί να μην συμβιβάσει την υπόθεση πριν από τη σωματική έρευνα; Γιατί να μη δώσει τα χρήματα στην οικογένεια πριν τα πράγματα φτάσουν τόσο μακριά; Ωστόσο, εάν κάποιος πίστευε ότι με το να επιτρέψει την σωματική έρευνα,θα μπορούσε να κάνει τον εισαγγελέα να αποσύρει τις κατηγορίες σε περίπτωση μη αντιστοιχίας, δεν θα δεχόταν να υποβληθεί στη συγκεκριμένη διαδικασία;
Η αστική αγωγή της οικογένειας Chandler εναντίον του Τζάκσον – Τα αίτια για τον συμβιβασμό του Τζάκσον με την οικογένεια
Στα τέλη Αυγούστου του 1993 (πριν από την πραγματοποίηση της σωματική έρευνας), ο δικηγόρος του Τζάκσον κατέθεσε μήνυση για εκβιασμό εναντίον του Evan Chandler και του Barry Rothman. Aυτό ανάγκασε τον Evan Chandler να βρει καινούριο δικηγόρο, καθώς η εκπροσώπησή του από κάποιον που τώρα ήταν συν-κατηγορούμενος θα αποτελούσε σύγκρουση συμφερόντων. Στην υπόθεση μπήκε η ανταγωνιστική Gloria Allred. Υπογράφοντας σαν ο νέος δικηγόρος των Chandlers, η Allred πραγματοποίηση στις 2 Σεπτεμβρίου μια θορυβώδη συνέντευξη τύπου, όπου μίλησε με άσκοπη παραστατικότητα για τις λεπτομέρειες της υποτιθέμενης παρενόχλησης. Η συνέντευξη τύπου μεταδόθηκε, όπως ήταν φυσικό, σε ολόκληρο τον κόσμο.
Λέγοντας στον Τύπο, « ο πελάτης μου θέλει να πάει στο δικαστήριο», η Αllred δήλωσε « [o Jordan] είναι έτοιμος, είναι πρόθυμος, είναι ικανός να καταθέσει.» Πηγές κοντά στον Chandler την περίοδο εκείνη ανέφεραν ότι η Allred και ο Chandler συγκρούστηκαν ως προσωπικότητες, και υπάρχουν ενδείξεις ότι διέφεραν ριζικά ως προς τον τρόπο που θα προσέγγιζαν την υπόθεση – αλλά και τον Τύπο. Ως αποτέλεσμα, μέσα σε λίγες μέρες μετά από την συνέντευξη τύπου, η Allred θα λάμβανε ένα γράμμα από τον καινούριο δικηγόρο του Chandler – Larry Feldman, στο οποίο απειλούσε την Allred με κρατικές κυρώσεις, εάν δεν αποσυρόταν αμέσως από την υπόθεση. Η Allred παραιτήθηκε την ίδια εβδομάδα.
Στις 14 Σεπτεμβρίου του 1993, λιγότερα από ένα μήνα μετά την καταγγελία στην αστυνομία των ισχυρισμών εναντίον του Μάικλ Τζάκσον για κακοποίηση ανηλίκου, η οικογένεια κατέθεσε μήνυση ύψους 30.000.000 δολαρίων εναντίον του Τζάκσον με τη βοήθεια του νέου τους δικηγόρου, Feldman.
Λόγο της διπλής διακινδύνευσης (νομικός όρος ), κάποιος που κατηγορείται για ένα έγκλημα δεν χρειάζεται να υπερασπιστεί τον εαυτό του για τον ίδιο ισχυρισμό δύο φορές, εκτός και αν η μια δίκη πραγματοποιηθεί σε αστικό δικαστήριο και η άλλη σε ποινικό δικαστήριο. Αυτή ήταν η κατάσταση με τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον το 1993.
Μέχρι εκείνο το σημείο, η μητέρα του φερόμενου ως θύματος, June Schwartz, είχε υποστηρίξει ότι ο Τζάκσον ήταν αθώος για όλες τις καταγγελίες. Μόλις όμως κατατέθηκε η αστική αγωγή, η June άλλαξε στάση και ένωσε τις δυνάμεις της με τον πρώην σύζυγό της, Εvan Chandler και τον γιό τους Jordan. Σε εκείνο το σημείο, ο δικηγόρος της June Schwartz, Michael Freeman υπέβαλε παραίτηση. Ο Freeman εξήγησε, «Το όλο θέμα ήταν ένα χάος. Ένωσα άβολα με τον Έvan. Δεν είναι αληθινός, και είχα την αίσθηση ότι δεν λειτουργούσε σωστά.»
Οι Chandler μήνυσαν τον Τζάκσον για σεξουαλική βιαιοπραγία, βιαιοπραγία, αποπλάνηση, δόλο, εκ’ προθέσεως επιβολή συναισθηματικής αγωνίας, απάτη και αμέλεια.
Η αστική αγωγή κατατέθηκε ενώ η αστυνομική έρευνα βρισκόταν ακόμα σε εξέλιξη. Ως αποτέλεσμα, η αστική δίκη προγραμματίστηκε να διεξαχθεί πριν την έναρξη της ποινικής δίκης,το οποίο θα αποτελούσε παραβίαση του συνταγματικού δικαιώματος του Τζάκσον να μην αυτό-ενοχοποιηθεί. Συνήθως, όταν υπάρχουν δύο δίκες που ασχολούνται με τις ίδιες κατηγορίες, η ποινική δίκη λαμβάνει χώρα πριν από την αστική δίκη. Αυτό γίνεται για να εξασφαλιστεί ότι η αμυντική στρατηγική του εναγόμενου δεν θα τεθεί σε κίνδυνο,ως αποτέλεσμα της διαδικασίας της αστικής δίκης.
Με απλά λόγια,στην περίπτωση του Μάικλ Τζάκσον, εάν η αστική δίκη προηγούνταν της εγκληματικής, η πλευρά των μηνυτών θα είχε μια πρώτη θέση στην αμυντική στρατηγική του Τζάκσον. Αυτό θα άφηνε τον Τζάκσον με μόνο μια επιλογή – να επικαλεστεί την Πέμπτη τροποποίηση. Αυτή η δυνατότητα, ωστόσο, λειτουργεί μόνο στα χαρτιά. Στην πραγματικότητα, σε μια δίκη όπου οι κατηγορίες περιλαμβάνουν κάτι τόσο συγκινησιακό και ειδεχθές, όπως η κακοποίηση παιδιών, ο εναγόμενος που απαντάει συνεχώς «επικαλούμαι την Πέμπτη τροποποίηση, κύριες δικαστά» δεν είναι δίκη. Είναι νομικά υποβοηθούμενη αυτοκτονία.
«Η διεξαγωγή της αστικής δίκης πριν από την ποινική» εξηγεί ο δημοσιογράφος Charles Thomson « θα έδινε στην δίωξη απεριόριστη πρόσβαση στην υπερασπιστική τακτική του Τζάκσον. Εάν ο Τζάκσον ανέφερε κάποιο άλλοθι στην αστική του δίκη, ο Sneddon θα μπορούσε να πάει πίσω στο γραφείο του και να αλλάξει τις ημερομηνίες των κατηγοριών. Εάν ο Τζάκσον καλούσε μάρτυρες για να επιβεβαιώσουν τη δική του εκδοχή των γεγονότων, ο Sneddon θα μπορούσε να πάει πίσω στο γραφείο του και να ανακατασκευάσει την υπόθεσή του με βάση τη μαρτυρία τους. Θα μπορούσε να προσαρμόσει την υπόθεσή του σύμφωνα με τη στρατηγική της υπεράσπισης, καθιστώντας αδύνατο για τον Τζάσκον να νικήσει στη ποινική δίκη. Ο μόνος τρόπος που θα μπορούσε ο Τζάκσον να έχει μια δίκαιη ποινική δίκη, ήταν με το να παρακάμψει την αστική δίκη»
Εάν η πλευρά του Τζάκσον νοιάζονταν για τη νίκη της ποινικής υπόθεσης, έπρεπε να σταματήσουν την αστική δίκη να προηγηθεί της ποινικής.
Οι συνήγοροι του Τζάκσον κατέθεσαν αίτημα ζητώντας την αναβολή της αστικής δίκης μέχρι την ολοκλήρωση της ποινικής. (Λάβετε υπόψη ότι κάποιος δεν μπορεί να συμβιβάσει ποινική δίκη και σε περίπτωση που κριθεί ένοχος πάει κατευθείαν στη φυλακή). Για να υποστηρίξουν το αίτημά τους ανέφεραν πολλές περιπτώσεις, όπως για παράδειγμα εκείνη του Pacer,Inc εναντίον του Aνώτατου Δικαστηρίου. Η Ομοσπονδιακή υπόθεση όριζε ότι, « όταν και οι δύο δικαστικές διαδικασίες, ποινική και αστική, προκύπτουν από τα ίδια ή συναφή πεπραγμένα, ο κατηγορούμενος δικαιούται Αναστολή της ανακάλυψης και δίκη επί της αστικής αγωγής όταν το ποινικό θέμα έχει επιλυθεί πλήρως.» Άλλες περιπτώσεις που αναφέρθηκαν περιλάμβαναν εκείνη του Dustin W. Brown ενταντίον του Ανώτατου δικαστηρίου, του Dwyer εναντίον της Crocker National Bank, του Patterson εναντίον του White και του Huot εναντίον του Gendron.
Ο Larry Feldman ισχυρίστηκε ότι εάν η αστική δίκη αναβαλλόταν, ο ενάγον, όντας ανήλικος, θα μπορούσε να ξεχάσει συγκεκριμένες λεπτομέρειες σχετικά με ό,τι υποτίθεται ότι είχε συμβεί σε αυτόν. Ο δικαστής έκρινε ότι η «εύθραυστη κατάσταση» του αγοριού ήταν πιο σημαντική από το δικαίωμα του Τζάκσον της πέμπτης τροποποίησης και αποφάνθηκε υπέρ του αγοριού.
Οι συνήγοροι του Τζάκσον υπέβαλλαν άλλη πρόταση, ζητώντας να απαγορευτεί στον Εισαγγελέα Tom Sneddon να προμηθευτεί στοιχεία που η ομάδα του τραγουδιστή θα χρησιμοποιούσε κατά τη διάρκεια της αστικής δίκης. Και πάλι, η πρόταση της πλευράς του Τζάκσον δεν έγινε δεκτή. Ο Εισαγγελέας κατέστησε σαφές ότι σχεδίαζε να χρησιμοποιήσει τα στοιχεία από την αστική διαδικασία ως βοήθεια για την ποινική υπόθεση εναντίον του Τζάκσον.
Εάν ο Τζάκσον δεν είχε συμβιβάσει την αστική δίκη, θα είχε θέσει σε κίνδυνο το σύνολο της αμυντικής του στρατηγικής με το να την αποκαλύψει στους μηνυτές μήνες προτού η ποινική υπόθεση πήγαινε στο δικαστήριο.
Ας υποθέσουμε για μια στιγμή ότι ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον είχε συνεχίσει με την αστική δίκη. Τι θα είχε συμβεί; Ο Τζάκσον θα είχε παρουσιάσει στο δικαστήριο όλα τα στοιχεία του εκβιασμού και ο Sneddon θα είχε παρακολουθήσει όλη την εξέλιξη της δίκης. Θα μπορούσε στη συνέχεια να πάρει τα πιο κρίσιμα απαλλακτικά στοιχεία του Τζάκσον από την αστική δίκη και θα έβρισκε τρόπους να τα αναιρέσει, με αποτέλεσμα ο Τζάκσον να μην έχει τίποτα για να υπερασπιστεί τον εαυτό του στην ποινική δίκη.
Κατά τη διάρκεια της αστική δίκης, οι συνήγοροί του Τζάκσον θα είχαν αναμφίβολα αποκαλύψει ενδεχόμενες ανακολουθίες στην ιστορία του κατηγόρου. Αυτό θα έδινε την ευκαιρία στον Sneddon να εξετάσει και να τροποποιήσει τις στην δική του υπόθεση εναντίον του Τζάκσον.
Όπως μπορείτε να δείτε, επιτρέποντας τη συνέχιση της αστικής δίκης, θα είχε δώσει στη δίωξη το πάνω χέρι στην πολύ πιο σημαντική ποινική δίκη. Αν και αυτός είναι ο κύριος λόγος πίσω από την απόφαση του Μάικλ Τζάκσον να συμβιβάσει την αστική δίκη, υπήρχαν πολλοί άλλοι παράγοντες που εμπλέκονταν:
- Στην ποινική δίκη, το βάρος της απόδειξης φέρει η πλευρά των μηνυτών: Με άλλα λόγια, εναπόκειται στον εισαγγελέα να αποδείξει πέρα από κάθε αμφιβολία ότι ο κατηγορούμενος είναι ένοχος για ένα εγκλήμα. Στις αστικές δίκες, εάν η επιτροπή των ενόρκων νομίζει ότι ο εναγόμενος μπορεί να ευθύνεται για ο,τι αυτός ή αυτή κατηγορείται, μπορούν να τον κρατήσουν υπεύθυνο.
- Στο ποινικό δίκαιο, εάν ο κατηγορούμενος επιλέξει να μην καταθέσει, η άρνησή του δεν μπορεί να χρησιμοποιηθεί εναντίον τους. Σε μια αστική δίκη,ωστόσο, ο εναγόμενος πρέπει να είναι συνεργάσιμος για όλες τις καταθέσεις και τις μαρτυρίες. Εάν σε μια αστική δίκη, ο εάν ο κατηγορούμενος επικαλεστεί το δικαίωμα της Πέμπτης Τροποποίησης, ο δικαστής θα πει στους ενόρκους ότι μπορούν να βγάλουν συμπέρασμα από την πλευρά που αρνήθηκε να καταθέσει. Εάν ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον δεν είχε συμβιβάσει την αστική αγωγή, όλη του η προσωπική ζωή θα είχε τεθεί στη διάθεση του κοινού. Οι κατηγορούμενοι για εγκλήματα σεξουαλικής κακοποίησης καλούνται συχνά να απαντήσουν σε εξαιρετικά προσωπικές ερωτήσεις στο δικαστήριο: Φανταστείτε πως θα ήταν αυτή η διαδικασία για κάποιον σαν τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον που ήταν ομολογουμένως πολύ ντροπαλός και του οποίου η προσωπική ζωή ήταν πάντα θέμα ενδελεχής εξέτασης από τα μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης.
- Στις αστικές δίκες η ετυμηγορία των ενόρκων δεν χρειάζεται να είναι ομόφωνη. Εάν τουλάχιστον το 50% των ενόρκων βρει τον εναγόμενο υπεύθυνο, ο μηνυτής (στην συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση η οικογένεια Chandler) θα πάρει πάλι χρήματα.
- Ο κατηγορούμενος σε μια αστική δίκη έχει λιγότερα δικαιώματα. Στο ποινικό δίκαιο, η αστυνομία πρέπει να εξασφαλίσει ένταλμα έρευνας προτού ερευνήσει ή κάνει κατάσχεση αντικειμένων από την περιουσία ενός ατόμου. Στο αστικό δίκαιο, ένας δικηγόρος μπορεί να ζητήσει πληροφορίες από την υπεράσπιση για οποιοδήποτε θέμα σχετικά με την υπόθεση. Αυτό είναι γνωστό ως διαδικασία ανεύρεσης και δεν περιλαμβάνει συνήθως το δικαστήριο. Η ανεύρεση μπορεί να περιλαμβάνει : γραπτές ερωτήσεις που πρέπει να απαντηθούν ενόρκως, αίτηση σχετικών εγγράφων, σωματική ή ψυχολογική εξέταση σε περίπτωση ισχυρισμού βλάβης. Εάν η πλευρά του Τζάκσον είχε επιτρέψει τη διεξαγωγή της αστικής δίκης,ο Larry Feldman θα είχε πρόσβαση στα ιατρικά και οικονομικά αρχεία του Τζάκσον, χωρίς να έχει λάβει ένταλμα.
- Η αστική δίκη μπορεί να πάρει μήνες ή ακόμη και χρόνια για να επιλυθεί. Ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον θα πλήρωνε εκατομμύρια δολάρια σε νομικά έξοδα, ενώ ταυτόχρονα θα περιόριζε την πηγή των εσόδων του με το να βάλει την καριέρα του σε αναμονή. Πιθανώς να υπήρξε και μεγάλη πίεση από την δισκογραφική του εταιρία να συμβιβάσει την αγωγή, επειδή η υπόθεση επηρέαζε την καριέρα και τη δημόσια εικόνα του.
- Μια τόσο μεγάλη, χρονοβόρα διαδικασία θα είχε προκαλέσει στον Τζάκσον και την οικογένειά του απίστευτο άγχος και στρες. Ακόμα και όταν ή αστική δική θα είχε επιλυθεί, ο Τζάκσον θα εξακολουθούσε να έχει να αντιμετωπίσει την ποινική δίκη.
- Σύμφωνα με τον δικηγόρο της οικογένειας Τζάκσον, Brian Oxman, ο ισχυρισμός της αμέλειας που περιλαμβανόταν στη μηνυτήρια αγωγή των Chandler εναντίον του Τζάκσον, μπορεί να ώθησε την ασφαλιστική εταιρεία του τραγουδιστή στο να τον αναγκάσει να συμβιβαστεί «Αυτό σημαίνει ότι η ασφαλιστική εταιρία του ατόμου αναλαμβάνει και η ασφαλιστική εταιρία μπορεί να συμβιβάσει πάρα τις αντιρρήσεις του εναγόμενου. Ο κατηγορούμενος μπορεί να φωνάζει, « Δεν θα συμβιβάσω την υπόθεση», όμως δεν έχει επιλογή γιατί η ασφαλιστική εταιρία την διευθέτει.»
Για όλους τους παραπάνω λόγους η νομική ομάδα του Μάικλ Τζάκσον απρόθυμα συμβίβασε με το ποσό των 15,331,250 δολαρίων την αστική αγωγή που είχε κατατεθεί εναντίον του τραγουδιστή από την οικογένεια Chandler.
Ο Συμβιβασμός της αστικής αγωγής
Στις 25 Ιανουαρίου του 1994, το γραφείο του Εισαγγελέα του Λος Άντζελες αποφάσισε να μην ερευνήσει τους ισχυρισμούς της πλευράς του Μαικλ Τζάκσον για εκβιασμό από τους Chandlers. H απόφαση αυτή θέτει τη βάση για τον συμβιβασμό. Ο λόγος για την απόφαση είναι σαφής: θα ήταν εντελώς παράλογο για έναν Εισαγγελέα να οικοδομήσει υπόθεση για παρενόχληση εναντίον του Τζάκσον, ενώ ταυτόχρονα να ασκήσει δίωξη στους Chandlers για εκβιασμό.
Αξίζει να σημειωθεί ότι ελάχιστα ήταν εκείνα τα μέσα ενημέρωσης που ανέφεραν τους ισχυρισμούς του Τζάκσον για εκβιασμό. Η USA Today ανέφερε, « πληροφορίες που διέρρευσαν από την υπόθεση παιδικής παρενόχλησης εναντίον του Μάικλ Τζακσον και τα δημόσια έγγραφα από την προσπάθεια του πατέρα του αγοριού για την κηδεμονία, εγείρουν ερωτήματα για τα κίνητρα του κατηγόρου,» και « η αποτυχία των μέσων μαζικής ενημέρωσης να αντιμετωπίσουν από την αρχή τους ισχυρισμούς για εκβιασμό με την σοβαρότητα που τους αρμόζει, έβλαψε αδίκως την εικόνα του Τζάκσον.»
Για αυτόν τον λόγο και για όσους αναφέρθηκαν παραπάνω ο Jackson προχωράει στον συμβιβασμό της αστικής αγωγής που κατατέθηκε εναντίον του από την οικογένεια του κατήγορου το 1993.
Το έγγραφο του συμβιβασμού που διέρρευσε κατά τη διάρκεια της δίκης του Τζάκσον το 2005, αποκαλύπτει τα εξής στοιχεία:
1) 15,331,250 εκατομμύρια δολάρια τέθηκαν σε ειδικό ταμείο για τον Jordan Chandler. Kαι οι δύο γονείς του παιδιού, καθώς και ο δικηγόρος της οικογένειας, Larry Feldman, πήραν μερίδιο από το ποσό.
2) Ο Τζάκσον αρνήθηκε τις κατηγορίες.
3) Ο Τζάκσον συμβιβάστηκε μόνο όσον αφορά τους ισχυρισμούς για αμέλεια και όχι τους ισχυρισμούς για παιδική παρενόχληση.
4) Ο Τζάκσον υποστηρίζει επανειλημμένα την αθωότητά του, ενώ η οικογένεια που τον κατηγορεί δεν ισχυρίζεται ούτε μια φορά ότι τα λεγόμενα του αγοριού είναι αλήθεια.
5) Το 2005, σύμφωνα με έγγραφο που παρουσίασε στο δικαστήριο ο δικηγόρος του Τζάκσον, Thomas Mesereau, οι ισχυρισμοί για αμέλεια που περιλαμβάνονταν στην αγωγή, παρακίνησαν την ασφαλιστική εταιρία του Τζάκσον να παρέμβει και να διευθετήσει την υπόθεση για εκείνον. Αυτό σημαίνει ότι ο Τζάκσον μπορεί να μην πλήρωσε τίποτα στους Chandlers.
6) Το αγόρι και ο πατέρας του μπορούσαν ακόμα να καταθέσουν εναντίον του Michael Jackson στο πλαίσιο της ποινικής δίκης (που θα λάμβανε χώρα μετά την αστική). Ο μόνος όρος στον διακανονισμό ήταν ότι η οικογένεια δεν μπορούσε να καταθέσει για τις καταγγελίες σε αστικό δικαστήριο. Σε αντίθεση με όσα πιστεύουν πολλοί, ο συμβιβασμός ΔΕΝ έκλεισε το στόμα κανενός. Ήταν απόφαση της οικογένειας να μην καταθέσει για την ποινική δίκη. Η οικογένεια θα μπορούσε να πάρει τα χρήματα και ταυτόχρονα να διεκδικήσει δικαιοσύνη μέσω της ποινικής δίκης που θα ακολουθούσε. Οι Chandler επέλεξαν να πάρουν τα χρήματα,αλλά αποφάσισαν να μην διεκδικήσουν δικαιοσύνη για την υποτιθέμενη κακοποίηση του παιδιού τους με το να μην καταθέσουν στην ποινική δίκη.
6) Αξίζει να σημειωθεί ότι αναφορικά με τον συμβιβασμό, ο πληρεξούσιος δικηγόρος των Chandlers, Larry Feldman, ανέφερε,« κανείς δεν εξαγόρασε τη σιωπή κανενός.» Σύμφωνα με τους όρους της συμφωνίας, τα μέρη έπρεπε να ζητήσουν την έγκριση του δικαστηρίου για το έγγραφο. Μάλιστα, το έγγραφο δεν ήταν δεσμευτικό μέχρι να το εγκρίνει το δικαστήριο. Δεδομένου ότι είναι παράνομο να εμποδίζεις τη δικαιοσύνη με το να απαιτείς τη σιωπή του άλλου για ένα έγκλημα, το δικαστήριο δεν θα μπορούσε να επιτρέψει μια διευθέτηση που απαιτούσε από τον Jordie να αρνηθεί να καταθέσει (σε ποινικό δικαστήριο), παρακωλύοντας κατ’ουσίαν τη δικαιοσύνη.
Ρωτήστε τον εαυτό σας το εξής: εάν το παιδί σας είχε κακοποιηθεί, δεν θα κάνατε τα πάντα προκειμένου το κλείσετε τον υπεύθυνο στη φυλακή; Οι Chandlers δεν το έκαναν. Αντίθετα, απέσυραν τις κατηγορίες παιδικής παρενόχλησης εναντίον του Τζάκσον, υπέγραψαν ένα έγγραφο όπου ουσιαστικά τους αποκαλούσε ψεύτες, πήραν τα χρήματά τους και αρνήθηκαν να μιλήσουν στις αρχές. Έχω ήδη αναφέρει τους λόγους που ο Τζάκσον συμβίβασε την υπόθεση. Ποιον λόγο είχαν οι Chandlers να μην καταθέσουν στην ποινική δίκη;
Κάποιος θα μπορούσε να υποστηρίξει ότι δεν ήθελαν να περάσουν μια δημόσια δίκη, ωστόσο, αυτός ο ισχυρισμός δεν βγάζει νόημα αν σκεφτεί κανείς το γεγονός ότι οι Chandler ήταν παραπάνω από πρόθυμοι να καταθέσουν στην αστική δίκη. Μάλιστα, όπως έχει αναφερθεί και παραπάνω, δικαστικά έγγραφα αποδεικνύουν ότι ο μόνος λόγος που ο δικαστής αρνήθηκε να καθυστερήσει την αστική δίκη, ήταν επειδή ο Larry Feldman φέρεται να ανησύχησε ότι o Jordan Chandler θα ξεχνούσε την ιστορία του, όταν κατέθετε. Επιπλέον, ο Evan αργότερα ξαναμήνυσε τον Τζάκσον και την τότε σύζυγό του, Λίζα Μαρί Πρέσλει ( ο Τζάκσον σε μια κοινή τηλεοπτική εμφάνιση του ζευγαρίου είχε, μεταξύ άλλων, υποστηρίξει την αθωότητά του σχετικά με τις κατηγορίες) λέγοντας ότι ο Τζάκσον έβλαψε τη φήμη της οικογένειάς του και ζήτησε από το δικαστήριο να του επιτρέψει να δημιουργήσει cd με τραγούδια για τις κατηγορίες. (Ναι,σωστά διαβάσατε). Οι πράξεις αυτές των Chandlers παρουσιάζουν μια οικογένεια που δεν δίσταζε να πει την δική της πλευρά της ιστορία.
Για τα τελευταία δεκαέξι χρόνια, τα μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης έχουν αναφερθεί στον συμβιβασμό ως «εξαγορά» αλλά η ερώτησή μου είναι η εξής: τι ακριβώς «εξαγόρασε» ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον όταν συμβίβασε την αστική αγωγή; Πως μπορεί κάνείς να τον αποκαλεί «συμβιβασμό για να κλείσει στόματα»,όταν δεν εμπόδισε τον κατήγορο από το να καταθέσει εναντίον του; Πως μπορεί κανείς να τον αποκαλεί «συμβιβασμό για να κλείσει στόματα»,όταν όλος ο κόσμος γνώριζε ήδη για τις καταγγελίες; Πως μπορεί κανείς να τον αποκαλεί «συμβιβασμό για να κλείσει στόματα», όταν εκκρεμούσε ακόμα η ποινική έρευνα, η οποία συνεχίστηκε κανονικά;
Τέλος, ο Evan Chandler ζήτησε 20 εκατ. δολάρια πριν οι καταγγελίες αναφερθούν στην αστυνομία. Αν υποθέσουμε ότι ο Τζάκσον είχε πράγματι παρενοχλήσει τον Jordan Chandler, γιατί δεν εκμεταλλεύτηκε αυτή την ευκαιρία για να αποφύγει να πιαστεί. Θα μπορούσε να είχε δώσει χρήματα στον Evan Chandler, αποφεύγοντας έτσι όλη αυτή τη δοκιμασία. Αντ’ αυτού, απέρριψε την αρχική απαίτηση για χρήματα. Εάν ήταν ένοχος, γιατί να το κάνει αυτό;
Εάν πάλι κάποιος υποστηρίξει ότι σχέδιο του Τζάκσον ήταν να συμβιβάσει την αστική αγωγή, προκειμένου να δωροδοκήσει το αγόρι ώστε να μην καταθέσει εναντίον του στην ποινική δίκη, τότε γιατί ο Τζάκσον ζήτησε την αναβολή της αστικής δίκης; Ήθελε η αστική δίκη να λάβει χώρα μετά την επίλυση της ποινικής, το οποίο σημαίνει ότι οποιοσδήποτε πιθανός συμβιβασμός με την οικογένεια θα διαπραγματευόταν αφού ο Τζάκσον είχε είτε αθωωθεί είτε καταδικαστεί. Αυτό θα καθιστούσε αδύνατο για τον Τζάκσον να «δωροδοκήσει» το αγόρι για να μην καταθέσει. Οι πράξεις του Τζάκσον έρχονται σε αντίθεση με την αντίληψη ότι ήθελε να εξαγοράσει τη σιωπή του Jordan Chandler.
Μόλις η αστική αγωγή διευθετήθηκε, ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον είχε ακόμα να αντιμετωπίσει την ποινική έρευνα.
Η ποινική έρευνα και η αντιμετώπιση της ιστορίας από τον Τύπο
Όταν ο Jordan Chandler αρνήθηκε να συνεργαστεί με τις αρχές για τη δίωξη του Τζάκσον, η αστυνομική έρευνα άρχισε να καταρρέει .
Η αστυνομία πήρε τους τηλεφωνικούς καταλόγους του Τζάκσον και επικοινώνησε με 30 περίπου παιδιά και τις οικογένειες τους,που είχαν επισκεφτεί κατά καιρούς την Νέβερλαντ. Παρά τη χρήση τεχνικών εκφοβισμού από τη πλευρά της αστυνομίας ( όπως το να λένε στα παιδιά ότι υπήρχαν γυμνές φωτογραφίες τους) ώστε να κάνουν καταγγελίες εναντίον του Τζάκσον, εντούτοις, δεν μπόρεσαν να βρουν κάποιον άλλο κατήγορο. Όλα τα παιδιά που ρωτήθηκαν υποστήριξαν ότι ο Τζάκσον δεν τα είχε αγγίξει ποτέ.
Τα αποτελέσματα από την σωματική έρευνα που είχε υποβληθεί ο Τζάκσον έλεγαν ότι δεν υπήρχε αντιστοιχία με την περιγραφή που είχε κάνει ο Jordie Chandler. Στις 28 Ιανουαρίου του 1994, η USA Today ανέφερε,« οι φωτογραφίες των γεννητικών οργάνων του Μάικλ Τζάκσον δεν ταιριαζουν με τις περιγραφές που έδωσε το αγόρι, το οποίο κατηγόρησε τον τραγουδιστή για σεξουαλικό παράπτωμα.»
Μέχρι τον Φεβρουάριο του 1994, η αστυνομία εξακολουθούσε να μη έχει κάποιον μάρτυρα διατεθειμένο να καταθέσει εναντίον του Τζάκσον. Οι ερευνητές, κατά συνέπεια, στράφηκαν στις ταμπλόιντ εφημερίδες για μάρτυρες, επικοινωνώντας με αρκετούς πρώην υπαλλήλους του Τζάκσον, οι οποίοι καθ’ολη τη διάρκεια της υπόθεσης είχαν πουλήσει ιστορίες στα μέσα ενημέρωσης.
Μερικοί από αυτούς τους «μάρτυρες» θα ήταν άτομα όπως οι Stella και Phillipe Lemarque, πρώην σεφ στη Neverland.
Χρησιμοποιόντας τον χολιγουντιανό ερευνητή και πολύ γνωστό μεσίτη για τις ταμπλόιντ , Paul Barresι ,(γνωστός για το γεγονός ότι περιστασιακά χρησιμοποιούσε πολυβόλα κατά τη διάρκεια διαπραγματεύσεων,) οι Lemarques προσπάθησαν να πουλήσουν τις ιστορίες τους για τον Τζάκσον να παρενοχλεί τον νεαρό ηθοποιό Macaulay Culkin, σε οποιονδήποτε ανέμιζε βιβλίο επιταγών. Η ιστορία τους τελικά πουλήθηκε πρώτα στη Mirror, η οποία κυκλοφόρησε με τον τίτλο «Jacko’s New Home Alone Slur,» και στη συνέχεια στη Globe για 15,000 δολάρια, η οποία είχε τον τίτλο «Peter Pan or Pervert: We caught Jackson Abusing Child Star»
Ο Lemarque, ο οποίος ισχυρίστηκε ότι η τεχνική του Τζάκσον ήταν να διεγείρει τα παιδία σε τέτοιο βαθμό ώστε να μην προσέχουν καν τι τους έκανε ο τραγουδιστής- κατά τη διάρκεια της εξέτασης κατ’ αντιπαράστασης από τον δικηγόρο του Τζάκσον , Thomas Meserau ,το 2005- θα παραδεχόταν ότι ο Barresi τον συμβούλευσε ότι με το να πει ότι το χέρι του Τζάκσον «ήταν μέσα στο σορτσάκι του Culkin , αντί έξω», θα αύξανε σημαντικά την τιμή που θα μπορούσε να πουλήσει την ιστορία του. Πράγματι, η συγγραφέας Maureen Orth το 1994 στο άρθρο «Nightmare in Neverland» έγραψε ότι ο Barresi της είχε δείξει δύο γραπτές εκδοχές της ιστορίας των Lemarques, αποκαλύπτοντας με σαφήνεια τη σχέση ανάμεσα στην αμοιβή και το περιεχόμενό τους.
Το 93, μετά την αποκάλυψη της ιστορίας των Lemarque, ο Culkin αρνήθηκε δημοσίως ότι είχε κακοποιηθεί από τον Τζάκσον. Όμως τα μέσα δεν ασχολήθηκαν σχεδόν καθόλου με αυτό, με ορισμένους μάλιστα να υπαινίσσονται ότι η άρνηση του Culkin ήταν μια προσπάθεια να σώσει την καριέρα του. Το 2005, ο Culkin – ο οποίος παραδόξως δεν είχε κληθεί ως μάρτυρας από την κατηγορούσα αρχή που τον είχε χαρακτηρίσει ως ένα από τα «θύματα»- επέμεινε να καταθέσει μετά την μαρτυρία των Lemarque. Ο Culkin, ενόρκως, αρνήθηκε πεισματικά ότι το συγκεκριμένο περιστατικό συνέβη ποτέ και κατήγγειλε τις κατηγορίες εναντίον του Τζάκσον ως «απολύτως γελοίες.» Έχει αποκαλυφθεί ότι οι Lemarque το 1997 είχαν δημιουργήσει ιστοσελίδα σκληρού πορνό με τον τίτλο «Virtual Sin.»
Ωστόσο, πίσω στο 93, χωρίς το πλεονέκτημα της απόστασης για την αξιολόγηση της αξιοπιστίας των Lemarque, η ιστορία τους θα προσέθετε περισσότερα καύσιμα στην ήδη φλεγόμενη φωτιά.
Οι «αποκαλύψεις» των Lemarques σύντομα θα ακολουθηθούν από δύο πρώην οικονόμους από τις Φιλιππίνες, τους Quindoys. Τρείς μέρες μετά από τα πρώτα νέα των καταγγελιών του 1993, το ABC θα έστελνε έναν ρεπόρτερ στη Μανίλα για να ακούσει την «αυτόπτη» μαρτυρία τους. Και για μία ακόμη φορά τα μέσα θα πλήρωναν για αυτό το προνόμιο. Εν τω μεταξύ, η Diane Dimond στο Hard Copy ήταν επίσης πρόθυμη να μιλήσει στους Quindoys. Η πλειοδοσία ήταν έτοιμη να αρχίσει.
Τα χρήματα που ζητούσαν οι «μάρτυρες» και κατέβαλλαν τα μέσα θα ανέρχονταν σε χιλιάδες δολάρια. Τόσο μεγάλη ήταν η ζήτηση και η εμπορική αξία για νέες ειδήσεις στην ιστορία του Τζάκσον. Όπως είπε και ο Paul Barresi στο Frontline το 1993, « δεν χρειάζεται παρά να έχει κάποιος μια ιστορία, μια μισή αλήθεια, την οποία ανακατεύεις με λίγο δηλητήριο και τότε έχεις μια ιστορία ταμπλόιντ.»
Ο βρετανός δημοσιογράφος, Allan Hall, που το 1991-92 έγραφε μια ιστορία για τον Τζάκσον στη Sun, πήρε συνέντευξη από τους Quindoys. Στην συνέντευξη του με το ζευγάρι, ο Ηall, θυμήθηκε τους Quindoys να μιλάνε με τα καλύτερα λόγια για τον πρώην εργοδότη τους, « Δεν είχαν να πουν μια κακή κουβέντα για τον τύπο. Ούτε έναν κακό λόγο.» Ο αμερικάνος παρουσιαστής talk show και δημοσιογράφος, Geraldo Rivera, είχε επίσης τους Quindoys ως καλεσμένους σε μια εκπομπή του 1992 με τον τίτλο «Now It Can Be Told.» Και ο Rivera επίσης θυμήθηκε ότι οι Quindoys είχαν μόνο αβλαβής ιστορίες να πουν από την Neverland.
Φαίνεται ότι, οι Quindoys άρχισαν να θυμάνται τον καιρό που πέρασαν στην Νέβερλαντ διαφορετικά, μόνο όταν δεν εργάζονταν πλέον στη Νέβερλαντ, και αφού οι καταγγελίες εναντίον του Τζάκσον δημοσιοποιήθηκαν. Στο τέλος, οι Quindoys πούλησαν τις «εξομολογήσεις» τους στη News of the World στη Βρετανία, η οποία δημοσίευσε την ιστορία χωρίς να τους δώσει τα χρήματα. Οι Quindoys θα πουν στη συνέχεια ότι ο λόγος που δεν πήγαν στην αστυνομία με τους ισχυρισμούς τους, αλλά αντίθετα πούλησαν την ιστορία τους στις ταμπλόιντ, ήταν ότι « εμείς ήμασταν μόνο μάρτυρες, δεν ήμασταν θύματα.»
Αξίζει να σημειωθεί ότι στην πατρίδα του, ο Mark Quindoy, ήταν και εξακολουθεί να είναι, δικηγόρος. Το γεγονός αυτό καθιστά μάλλον απίθανο το γεγονός ότι δεν καταλάβαινε τη διαφορά ανάμεσα στο να είναι κάποιος «θύμα» και «μάρτυρας», όσον αφόρα την κατάθεση στην αστυνομία.
Όταν το 1994 εξετάστηκαν από την αστυνομία στο πλαίσιο της ποινικής έρευνας για τον Τζάσκον, τόσο οι Lemarques όσο και οι Quindoys απορρίφθηκαν από τους ερευνητές ως αναξιόπιστοι μάρτυρες, εξαιτίας της ασυνέπειας της μαρτυρίας τους και της πιθανότητας να παραπεμφθούν για ψευδορκία.
Το κοινό όμως, από τη δική του προοπτική, το μόνο που έβλεπε ήταν ένα αυξανόμενο σώμα ανθρώπων να ορκίζονται μπροστά στην κάμερα ότι ο Μάικλ Τζάκσον ήταν παιδεραστής. Αυτές οι ιστορίες θα είχαν μεγάλη επίδραση στην αντίληψη του Τζάκσον ως ένοχο. Αγνοώντας το χρήμα που κυκλοφορούσε στα παρασκήνια, το οποίο έκανε αυτές τις φαινομενικά ατελείωτες μαρτυρίες πραγματικότητα, στο δικαστήριο της κοινής γνώμης, η ζημιά που γινόταν στον Τζάκσον ήταν πραγματικά πολύ μεγάλη.
Με ελάχιστες πληροφορίες να διαρρέουν από το γραφείο του εισαγγελέα, αμοιβές άρχισαν να προσφέρονται σε όποιον έβρισκε τη μεγαλύτερη είδηση,ενώ εκπομπές όπως το Hard Copy, Geraldo, A Current Affair, Inside Edition, Eye To Eye, Prime Time Live, και Day one άρχισαν να παρακαλάνε χειριστές και μεσίτες ταμπλόιντ για να βρουν νέου «μάρτυρες». Δεν θα χρειαζόταν να περιμένουν για πολύ.
Όταν το Νοέμβριο του 1993, ντοκιμαντέρ του PBS , το όποιο είχε ως στόχο να εκθέσει την αύξηση του ταμπλόιντ περιεχομένου στην παρουσίαση των κεντρικών ειδήσεων, θα ρωτούσε τη Diane Dimond για το θέμα της πληρωμής ειδήσεων που αφορούσαν τον Μάικλ Τζάκσον, η Dimond θα απαντούσε oτι το Hard Copy, σε αντίθεση με άλλες τηλεοπτικές εκπομπές, «δεν κατέβαλε χρήματα.» Αυτή η δήλωση ήταν ψευδής.
Όταν στις αρχές Δεκεμβρίου του 93, εμφανίστηκαν πέντε πρώην υπάλληλοι με ισχυρισμούς ότι είχαν δει τον Τζάκσον να παρενοχλεί παιδιά, ένα συμβόλαιο του Hard Copy αποκάλυψε ότι μια αμοιβή που κυμαινόταν ανάμεσα στα 100,000–150,000 δολάρια διαπραγματευόταν για την εμφάνισή τους στην εκπομπή. Διαρροές από την εκπομπή διαφήμιζαν τις αποκαλύψεις των σωματοφυλάκων ως « Τα άκουσαν όλα, τα είδαν όλα, τα ξέρουν όλα.» Το 2005, μετά την αθώωση του Τζάκσον, η Dimond είπε, «Προκαλώ όλους αυτούς που λένε ότι είμαι υπέρ των κατηγόρων,να δείξουν μια εκπομπή στην οποία δεν παρουσιάζω και τις δύο πλευρές. Δεν έχω πει ποτέ ότι είναι [ο Τζάκσον] παιδόφιλος, δεν έχω πει ποτέ ότι είναι ένοχος.»
Την 1 Δεκεμβρίου του 1993, η Dimond, μια έμπειρη ρεπόρτερ που ξέρει με τον καλύτερο τρόπο να υπαινίσσεται πράγματα, ξεκίνησε την εκπομπή της, Hard Copy,με μια εισαγωγή που δεν θα άφηνε κανέναν να αναρωτιέται σχετικά με το τι πίστευε. Λέγοντας στο κοινό ότι οι σωματοφύλακες είχαν απολυθεί επειδή, « γνώριζαν πάρα πολλά σχετικά με την παράξενη σχέση του Michael Jackson με αγόρια,» η συνέντευξη γρήγορα κατευθύνθηκε σε γνωστά εδάφη, με τους σωματοφύλακες να εξιστορούν μια ιστορία για φωτογραφίες που «τους είχαν πει να καταστρέψουν.» Το γιατί είχε ζητηθεί από τους σωματοφύλακες να «καταστρέψουν» φωτογραφίες την περίοδο της απασχόλησης τους, η οποία έληξε το 1992, όταν οι κατηγορίες εναντίον του Τζάκσον ανέκυψαν το 1993, ήταν κάτι που ,παραδόξως ,δεν ρωτήθηκε ποτέ από την Dimond.
Στην πραγματικότητα, η δήλωση της Dimond στον τηλεοπτικό αέρα, που μεταδόθηκε σε εκατομμύρια νοικοκυριά, για τους λόγους που οι σωματοφύλακες είχαν απολυθεί από την Νέβερλαντ- ήταν εντελώς ψευδής. Οι σωματοφύλακες είχαν στην πραγματικότητα απολυθεί για κλοπή. Λίγους μήνες μετά τη συνέντευξή τους στο Hard Copy, ο καθένας από τους πρώην υπαλλήλους θα παραδεχόταν σε καταθέσεις που έδωσαν ως μέρος της αγωγής που είχαν καταθέσει εναντίον του Τζάκσον για «υπαίτια λύση», ότι δεν είχαν δει ποτέ τον Τζάκσον να κακοποιεί κάποιο παιδί. Τα πρακτικά αυτά του δικαστηρίου είναι στη διάθεση του κοινού.
Στη δίκη του Michael Jackson το 2005,ο Ralph Chacon – ένας από του πέντε πρώην υπαλλήλους, κατά τη διάρκεια της εξέτασής του από τον Thomas Mesereau, θα επιβεβαίωνε ότι το 1992 είχε απολυθεί επειδή είχε κλέψει εμπορεύματα από το σπίτι του Τζάκσον. Θα έλεγε επίσης ότι ο δικηγόρος που χειρίστηκε την αγωγή του εναντίον του Τζάκσον για «υπαίτια λύση» το 1994/5,τον είχε συμβουλεύσει να πουλήσει την ιστορία του στα ταμπλόιντ.
Ενόρκως το 2005,ο Ralph Chacon θα παραδεχόταν επίσης ότι είχε συναντηθεί με τον Tom Sneddon (τον εισαγγελέα της Σάντα Μπαρμπαρα εκείνη την εποχή) – κατά την εβδομάδα προτού καταθέσει, για να δώσει στον κ. Sneddon «περισσότερες πληροφορίες» σχετικά με το τι έγινε το 1993. Ωστόσο, το 2005, ο Mesereau έπρεπε να πιέσει τον Chacon για να θυμηθεί ότι είχε συντάξει την ένορκη κατάθεσή του για την αστική αγωγή εναντίων του Τζάκσον μπροστά στην παρουσία του δικηγόρου του.
Η Adrian McManus, μια από τους πρώην υπαλλήλους που είχαν μηνύσει τον Jackson το 94, όταν κλήθηκε να καταθέσει στη δίκη του 2005, προσπάθησε να ανακαλέσει τη δήλωση που είχε κάνει στην ένορκη κατάθεσή της ως μέρος της αγωγής για «υπαίτια λύση» εναντίον του Jackson. Στη δήλωση αυτή,η McManus ανάφερε ότι δεν είχε δει ποτέ τον Τζάκσον να αγγίζει ανάρμοστα τον Macaulay Culkin. Το 2005, όταν ρωτήθηκε ενόρκως από τον Mesereau για τον λόγο που προσπάθησε τώρα να αλλάξει την αρχική της κατάθεση, η McManus απάντησε, « Δεν είχα πει την αλήθεια.»
Ο Kassim Abdool, ένας άλλος φρουρός που είχε απολυθεί για κλοπή από την περιουσία του Τζάκσον, δεν μπόρεσε να επιβεβαιώσει κάποια περιστατικό κακοποίησης, όταν ρωτήθηκε από τον συνήγορο υπεράσπισης του Τζάκσον το 2005. Ο Morris Williams, ο οποίος είχε επίσης συμμετάσχει στην αγωγή για «υπαίτια λύση» εναντίον του Τζάκσον, όταν ρωτήθηκε για την υπόθεση του 1994 από έναν από τους συνήγορους του Τζάκσον, παραδέχτηκε ενόρκως ότι προσωπικά δεν είχε δει ποτέ οποιαδήποτε παρενόχληση. Όταν ρωτήθηκε γιατί είχε σχηματίσει την εντύπωση ότι ο Τζάκσον ήταν παιδόφιλος, ο Williams με ειλικρίνεια απάντησε «… από αυτά που είχε ακούσει από τα μέσα ενημέρωσης.»
Όλοι αυτοί οι πρώην υπάλληλοι θα έχαναν την αγωγή τους εναντίων του Τζάκσον τον Ιούλιο του 1995, και θα υποχρεώνονταν να καταβάλουν το ποσό των 1,4 εκατομμυρίων δολαρίων ως αποζημίωση προς τον Τζάκσον. Τουλάχιστον δύο από τους πέντε ενάγοντες κήρυξαν πτώχευση, αποφεύγοντας έτσι την πληρωμή. Αλλά πίσω το 93, χωρίς το πλεονέκτημα της απόστασης, η επίδραση αυτών των «ομολογιών» εναντίον του ονόματος και της φήμης του Τζάκσον- ήταν ανυπολόγιστη.
Στις 15 Δεκεμβρίου, η φήμη του Τζάκσον θα δεχόταν ένα ακόμα δυνατό χτύπημα, όταν το Hard Copy πρόβαλλε τις αναμνήσεις «κακοποίησης» από μια άλλη πρώην υπάλληλο. Στην εκπομπή που προβλήθηκε με τον τίτλο «Τα επώδυνα μυστικά της υπηρέτριας του υπνοδωματίου,» η Dimond θα δήλωνε ξανά ότι η εκπομπή δεν είχε πληρώσει για την ιστορία. Η δήλωση ήταν ψευδής.
Συνοδευμένο με προκλητικά τρέιλερ της καμαριέρας να ισχυρίζεται ότι είχε δει τον Τζάκσον σε μπανιέρα με ένα νεαρό αγόρι, η εμφάνιση της Blanca Francia στο Hard Copy απέφερε στην πρώην καμαριέρα 20,000 δολάρια. Όσον αφορούσε όμως τα στελέχη του Hard Copy ,τα χρήματα που ξοδεύτηκαν άξιζαν τον κόπο. Η αποκλειστικότητα του Hard Copy με την Francia χτύπησε την αντίπαλη εκπομπή, A Current Affair, στις τηλεθεάσεις.
Μπροστά σε ένα κοινό εκατομμυρίων, η Francia είπε στην Dimond ότι είχε δει τον Τζάκσον να κάνει ντους και να μπαίνει γυμνός σε ένα τζακούζι με μικρά αγόρια στη Νέβερλαντ. Η Francia είπε επίσης ότι είδε τον Τζάκσον να συμπεριφέρεται ανάρμοστα με τον γιό της, Jason. Η αντίδραση των εφημερίδων ταμπλόιντ μετά την εκπομπή, ήταν καταδικαστική. Ο τίτλος της News of The World « Είδα τον Τζάκσον να το κάνει!» και της LA Times, « Οι ιστορίες της καμαριέρας για γυμνό Τζάκσον, αγόρια,» είναι τυπικές για το πώς έπαιξε η ιστορία της Francia στον τύπο.
Όταν σε μια συνέντευξη το 2003,η Dimond ρωτήθηκε για την σημασία της επαλήθευσης των ισχυρισμών μιας πηγής είπε, «κάθε καλός ερευνητής δημοσιογράφος θα σας πει ότι αυτό που αναφέρει μια πηγή, δεν είναι ποτέ αρκετό. Παίρνεις, ασφαλώς, πληροφορίες από την πηγή, αλλά στη συνέχεια πρέπει να τις επαληθεύσεις με άλλους τρόπους προτού την δημοσιοποιήσεις.» Το 1993 όμως, φαίνεται ότι μια τέτοια επαλήθευση δεν ήταν απαραίτητη.
Αν η Dimond είχε επαληθεύσει τους ισχυρισμούς της Francia, θα είχε ανακαλύψει τουλάχιστον δύο πράγματα. Πρώτον, ότι οι ισχυρισμοί της υπηρέτριας ότι είχε αφήσει την δουλειά της επειδή είχε «αηδιάσει», δεν ίσχυαν. Η Francia, είχε στην πραγματικότητα απολυθεί το 1991. Και αν η Dimond είχε επιβεβαιώσει (όπως κάθε δημοσιογράφος οφείλει, ιδιαίτερα όταν αφορά ισχυρισμούς για κάτι τόσο σοβαρό όπως είναι η κακοποίηση)τους ισχυρισμούς της Francia, ρωτώντας το αγόρι το οποίο η Francia ισχυρίστηκε ότι είδε τον Τζάκσον, θα ανακάλυπτε ότι τα λεγόμενά ήταν αβάσιμα. Το νεαρό αγόρι που η Francia είπε ότι είχε δει να κάνει ντους με τον Τζάκσον , ήταν ο Wade Robson.
Απόσπασμα από πρακτικά δικαστηρίου : Πολιτεία κατά Jackson 2005.
T. Mesereau : “ Κύριε Robson, σας παρενοχλήσε ποτέ ο Michael Jackson;»
W.Robson: « Απολύτως όχι.»
Ο Robson αρνήθηκε κατηγορηματικά να κάνει ποτέ ντους με τον Jackson. Όταν του ζητήθηκε να περιγράψει μια τυπική μέρα στη Νέβερλαντ, ο Robson είπε ότι αυτός και ο Τζάκσον και οποιοδήποτε άλλο παιδί που τύχαινε να βρίσκεται εκεί, θα έπαιζαν βίντεο παιχνίδια, θα έβλεπαν ταινίες, θα μιλούσαν, θα έτρωγαν και μερικές φορές θα έπαιζαν μαξιλαροπόλεμο. Το 2005, κάτω από τη διάρκεια της κατ’ αντιπαράστασης εξέτασής του από τον εισαγγελέα της δίωξης ,Zonen, ο Robson επανέλαβε συνεχώς, « Σας λέω ότι, δεν έγινε ποτέ τίποτα.»
Το 93/1994,όταν η Francia ρωτήθηκε, ενώ έδινε την ένορκη κατάθεσή της στο πλαίσιο της ποινικής έρευνας εναντίον του Τζάκσον, θα παραδεχόταν ότι δεν είχε δει ποτέ τον Τζάκσον να κάνει γυμνός μπάνιο με αγόρια ή να είναι γυμνός σε τζακούζι με νεαρά παιδία στην Νέβερλαντ. Με το να δηλώσει ότι ,όταν είχε δει τον Τζάκσον να παίζει παιχνίδια στο νερό με παιδία, ήταν πάντα με το μαγιό του, αυτή η κατάθεση της Francia μπροστά στην επιτροπή του δικαστηρίου το Δεκέμβριο του 93, θα υπονόμευε ουσιαστικά τη συγκλονιστική ιστορία που είχε πει στην συνέντευξή της με την Dimond στο Hard Copy.
Χρόνια αργότερα, όταν ρωτήθηκε από τον Mesereau στη δίκη του 2005, η Francia θα παραδεχόταν ότι είχε κατασκευάσει την ιστορία της για το Hard Copy. Θα παραδεχόταν επίσης ότι είχε πουλήσει την ιστορία της στο National Enquirer. Ο γιός της Francia, Jason, όταν εξετάστηκε από τον Mesereau το 2005, θα ισχυριζόταν ότι δεν θυμόταν τη δήλωση που έκανε στην κατάθεσή του στο ανώτατο δικαστήριο,στα τέλη του 93/4, ότι είχε δεχτεί πιέσεις από τους αστυνομικούς ερευνητές κατά τη διάρκεια της συνέντευξης. Η δήλωσή του « με ανάγκασαν να επινοήσω πράγματα. Με πίεζαν συνεχώς. Ήθελα να τους χτυπήσω στο κεφάλι,» υπάρχει στα πρακτικά της δίκης. Η κατάθεση του Jason Francia στη δίκη του Jackson το 2005,θα αποδεικνυόταν αδιάφορη.
Ο βρετανός δημοσιογράφος, Charles Thomson, στο άρθρο του με τίτλο «Ένα από τα πιο επαίσχυντα επεισόδια στη δημοσιογραφική ιστορία,» γράφει, « το τέταρτο «θύμα» ,Jason Francia, ανέβηκε να καταθέσει και ισχυρίστηκε ότι όταν ήταν παιδί, ο Jackson τον είχε παρενοχλήσει σε τρείς διαφορετικές περιπτώσεις. Πιεσμένος για λεπτομέρειες της «παρενοχλησεις», είπε ότι ο Jackson τον είχε γαργαλήσει τρείς φορές έξω από τα ρούχα του και ότι χρειάστηκε χρόνια θεραπείας για να το ξεπεράσει.»[ΠΗΓΗ]
Ο Thomson σημειώνει ότι « αν και ο Jason Francia ισχυρίστηκε ότι οι πράξεις της παρενοχλήσεις συνέβησαν το 1990, δεν τις ανέφερε παρά μόνο αφού τα μέσα όρμησαν στους ισχυρισμούς των Chandlers, με τη μητέρα του, τη καμαριέρα της Νεβερλαντ, Blanca Francia, να λαμβάνει 20.000 δολάρια από το Hard Copy… και 2,4 εκατομμύρια ως συμβιβασμό από την πλευρά του Τζάκσον.»
Δυο χρόνια αργότερα, θα αποκαλυπτόταν ότι η σχέση της Blanca Francia με τα τάμπλοιντ μέσα ενημέρωσης,ήταν πιο περίπλοκη από ό,τι θα μπορούσε κανείς να φανταστεί. Υποστηριγμένη από το National Enquirer αμέσως μόλις έκανε τις καταγγελίες, φαίνεται ότι ασυνήθιστες κινήσεις έγιναν για να καταστεί δυνατό σε έναν ρεπόρτερ της Enquirer να παραβρίσκεται στη συνέντευξη που οι αστυνομικοί ερευνητές διεξήγαγαν με την Francia το 93/94.
Στις 26 Ιανουαρίου του 1995, ο δημοσιογράφος George Rush ,σε ένα άρθρο του στην εφημερίδα New York Daily News ,ανέφερε ότι η βρετανική εφημερίδα Today είχε δημοσιεύσει μια ιστορία στην οποία αναφερόταν ότι είχε αποκαλυφθεί ότι η Blanca Francia είχε χρησιμοποιήσει μια ρεπόρτερ της National Enquirer , τη Lydia Encinas, ως μεταφράστριά της, όταν το 1993/4 είχε περάσει από συνέντευξη με την αστυνομία,ως μέρος της ποινικής έρευνας εναντίον του Jackson.
O Paul Barresi, μεσάζοντας ταμπλόιντα εφημερίδων και ερευνητής – αφού άκουσε μια σειρά από παράνομα ηχογραφημένες συνομιλίες ,τις οποίες είχε καταγράψει ο ρεπόρτερ Jim Mitteager (που τώρα έχει αποβιώσει)- ανακάλυψε ότι η ρεπόρτερ της Νational Εnquirer, Lydia Encinas, είχε βοηθήσει στην μεταγραφή της συνέντευξης της Francia με την αστυνομία,το 1993. Τότε, το Enquirer, προσέφερε ενεργά ουσιαστικά κίνητρα σε οποιονδήποτε είχε να πουλήσει κάποια ιστορία «παρενόχλησης» από τον Τζάκσον- όλες εγκεκριμένες από τον συντάκτη του Enquirer, David Perel.
Επιπλέον, το Εnquirer, παράλληλα με την καταβολή ενός αξιοσέβαστου ποσού χρημάτων στην Francia για την ιστορία της στην Encinas, την προστάτευε ώστε να μένει κοντά στις έρευνες για τον Τζάκσον. Δεν είναι γνωστό εάν οι αστυνομικοί ερευνητές γνώριζαν ότι η Encinas ήταν ρεπόρτερ ταμπλόιντ εφημερίδας, όμως επειδή πολλές από τις έρευνες των αστυνομικών στην υπόθεση του Τζάκσον ήταν καθοδηγούμενες από τα ταμπλόιντ, είναι απίθανο ότι αυτή η αποκάλυψη θα τους είχε εμποδίσει στο να χρησιμοποιήσουν την Francia για να προωθήσουν την υπόθεση.
Στις 4 Απριλίου του 2005, η δημοσιογράφος Michelle Caruso ,τότε δούλευε στην Daily News, ανέφερε σε ένα άρθρο της, που αφορούσε τις επερχόμενες μαρτυρίες σχετικά με «προηγούμενες πράξεις» στη δίκη του Τζάκσον το 2005, ότι οι «Κασέτες του Mitteager “ περιλάμβαναν συνομιλίες με τον τότε εκδότη του Enquirer – David Perel, να λέει στον Mitteager στις 23 Μάρτιου του 1994 ότι: «ο λόγος που συμμετέχει η Lydia Encinas είναι επειδή μιλάει ισπανικά και επειδή έχει καλή σχέση με την Blanca Francia.» Στις κασέτες ο Perel θα συνέχιζε λέγοντας ότι τα αγγλικά της Francia ήταν επιπέδου το πολύ Στ Δημοτικού.
Η Caruso εντόπισε τον ντετέκτιβ από το Λος Άντζελες, Russ Birchim, ο οποίος είχε πάρει συνέντευξη από την Francia το 1993, για να επιβεβαιώσει την ιστορία. Η Caruso ανέφερε ότι ο Birchim της είπε, « Η Lydia Encinas δεν ήταν ο μεταφραστής. Όμως τη συνάντησα στο Λος Άντζελες.» Η Caruso παρατήρησε επίσης ότι, όταν του ζήτησε να εξηγήσει το λόγο που είχε συναντηθεί με έναν ρεπόρτερ της National Enquirer κατά τη διάρκεια της διεξαγωγής της ποινικής έρευνας το 93/94, o Birchim αρνήθηκε να δώσει στοιχεία.
Η Caruso κατέληξε, « Ανοίγοντας την πόρτα σε αυτή την ιστορία, ο Εισαγγελέας Tom Sneddon μπορεί να δαγκώσει περισσότερο απ’όσο μπορεί να μασήσει. Η καμαριέρα, η πληρωμή της από το Hard Copy και η αγωγή που προέκυψε, αφορούν περισσότερο την απληστία και την φιλοδοξία που περιβάλλουν τον Τζάκσον, παρά τον ίδιο τον τραγουδιστή. Με το να ξετυλίξει το μυστήριο των «προηγούμενων πράξεων» του Τζάκσον, ο Sneddon αφήνει περιθώρια στον Thomas Mesereau να διερευνήσει τις συνδέσεις ανάμεσα σε όλους αυτούς τους ανθρώπους. Και αυτό θα έκανε μια πολύ πιο ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία από σχεδόν οτιδήποτε έχουμε ακούσει μέχρι τώρα.»
Τέτοια ήταν η «αξιοπιστία» των «μαρτύρων», ώστε τα στελέχη στο Hard Copy και σε άλλα μέσα ενημέρωσηνς πλήρωσαν χιλιάδες γι’αυτά. Εκείνη την εποχή , ωστόσο, το αποτέλεσμα αυτής της ατελείωτης παρέλασης ανθρώπων έτοιμων να κατηγορήσουν δημόσια τον Τζάκσον για παρενόχληση παιδιών, ήταν καταστροφική. Στο κενό που δημιουργήθηκε από την απουσία του Τζάκσον, αυτοί οι κατήγοροι ήταν οι φωνές που κυριαρχούσαν στα πρωτοσέλιδα, στις ραδιοφωνικές συζητήσεις και στις τηλεοπτικές εκπομπές.
Σε σπίτια και γραφεία σε ολόκληρη την Αμερική, ο Τζάκσον έχανε τον πόλεμο με τα μέσα ενημέρωσης. Το γεγονός ότι αυτοί οι «μάρτυρες» εμφανίζονταν μόνο από τη στιγμή που τους προσφέρονταν χρήματα, δεν έγινε ποτέ αντιληπτό απο το κοινό,το οποίο το τάιζαν με τις ψεύτικες και διαστρεβλωμένες ιστορίες μιας βιομηχανίας που τις δημιουργούσε και τις εκμεταλλευόταν.
Όταν ξέσπασε η ιστορία του Τζάκσον το 1993, το Enquirer, με περισσότερο δυναμικό από όλες τις άλλες ταμπλόιντ εκδόσεις στην αγορά, έριξε τους πάντες στο συγκεκριμένο θέμα –ρεπόρτερ, εκδότες, ερευνητές και ένα δίκτυο πληροφοριών.
Το σκάνδαλο του Τζάκσον θα είχε μεγάλη επιτυχία για το Enquirer,που για τους επόμενους έξι μήνες θα είχε τον Τζάκσον σε περισσότερα από δώδεκα εξώφυλλα. Αυτό ίσως εξηγεί την εκπληκτική παράκαμψη από την παραδοσιακή δημοσιογραφία της έρευνας που θα δοκίμαζαν τον Δεκέμβριο του 1993. Ο αρθρογράφος της Fox411, Roger Friedman, αποκάλυψε στον Matt Drudge, σε μια συνέντευξη στο Drudge Report τον Απρίλιο του 2005, το πόσο μακριά ήταν διατεθειμένο να πάει το Enquirer για χάρη μιας ιστορίας.
Σύμφωνα με τον Friedman, ενώ ο Τζάκσον πάλευε για την φυσική και ψυχική του υγεία, και οι συνήγοροί του για το όνομά του- το Enquirer προετοιμαζόταν για πολύ σκληρό παιχνίδι.
Προσπαθώντας να εισπράξουν την επόμενη δόση στη συνεχώς εξελισσόμενη ιστορία του Τζάκσον, το Enquirer άρχισε να ψάχνει για νεαρά αγόρια που είχαν περάσει χρόνο με τον Τζάκσον. Ο ρεπόρτερ Jim Mitteager βρήκε τα αδέλφια Newt – Robert και Ronald Newt Jr. (o oποίος τώρα έχει αποβιώσει.)Τα αγόρια, επίδοξοι τραγουδιστές, είχαν περάσει δύο εβδομάδες στο οικογενειακό σπίτι των Τζάκσον, στο Ενσίνο. Ο Mitteager πλησίασε τον πατέρα των παιδιών και του πρόσφερε χρήματα (συγκεκριμένα 200.000 δολάρια) ώστε τα παιδιά του να υποστηρίξουν ότι είχαν παρενοχληθεί από τον Τζάκσον. Ο πατέρας, ο οποίος αρχικά είχε σκεφτεί την πρόταση, όταν ήρθε η ώρα να υπογράψει, στη θέση του ονόματος έγραψε τη φράση «no good sucker» Ο λόγος; Ο Τζάκσον δεν είχε ακουμπήσει ποτέ τα παιδιά του. [ΠΗΓΗ]
Η όλη υπόθεση αποδεικνύεται από ένα συμβόλαιο που είχε συνταχθεί και το οποίο έφερε την υπογραφεί του αρχισυντάκτη του National Enquirer, David Perel, καθώς επίσης και από το γεγονός ότι ο Mitteager είχε μαγνητοσκοπήσει μια από τις συναντήσεις του με τους Νewts. Οι « Μitteager Tapes», όπως έχουν ονομαστεί, έχουν ακουστεί από διαδοχικούς δημοσιογράφους και εκδότες με την πάροδο των ετών. Αυτό όμως που είναι ιδιαιτέρως ανησυχητικό γι’αυτή την κατ’ ουσία προσπάθεια παγίδευσης από μια πανίσχυρη ταμπλόιντ εφημερίδα, είναι το πόσο σαφώς καταδεικνύει το μέγεθος της κακοήθειας που υπάρχει σε μια βιομηχανία, που κάποτε φιλοδοξούσε να είναι κάτι περισσότερο. Και όπως έγραψε ο Steven Moore, το Νοέμβριο του 1993, σε ένα άρθρο του για την Guardian, «Το σκάνδαλο του Michael Jackson έχει εξελιχθεί σε ένα όργιο για τα μέσα» – « είναι λυπηρό το γεγονός ότι ο Τύπος, που σκοπός του υποτίθεται ότι είναι να εξασφαλίζει βασικές ελευθερίες, κινδυνεύει να γίνει το όργανο που τις αφαιρεί.»
Το 1994, συγκλήθηκαν δυο μεγάλες επιτροπές ενόρκων, προκειμένου να ακούσουν τα στοιχεία στην υπόθεση του Τζάκσον . Δεν ασκήθηκε ποτέ καμία δίωξη. Είναι σημαντικό να αναφερθεί ότι οι επιτροπές ενόρκων ακούνε τις αποδείξεις που ο εισαγγελέας προτίθεται να παρουσιάσει.Τυπικά, δεν υπάρχει κατ’αντιπαράσταση εξέταση ή ανάκριση, και η υπεράσπιση δεν παρουσιάζει κανένα απολύτως στοιχείο. Είναι ως εκ τούτου, τα αποδεικτικά στοιχεία της κατηγορούσας αρχής, χωρίς καμία ευκαιρία από την αντίθετη πλευρά να τα αντικρούσει. Ακόμα και όταν αυτή η μονόπλευρη μορφή αποδείξεων παρουσιάστηκε σε δυο διαφορετικές ένορκες επιτροπές,τα στοιχεία ήταν τόσο πενιχρά, που στον Τζάκσον δεν απαγγέλθηκε καν κατηγορητήριο. Σύμφωνα με αναφορά του CNN στις 2 Μαίου του 1994 « κανένα σοβαρό στοιχείο δεν ακούστηκε.»
Στις 17 Νοεμβρίου του 2009, έξι μήνες σχεδόν μετά το θάνατο του Μάικλ Τζάκσον, το σώμα του Evan Chandler βρέθηκε στο πολυτελές του διαμέρισμα στο Jersey City. Είχε αυτοκτονήσει φυτεύοντας μια σφαίρα στο κεφάλι του. Ο Chandler αποτεφρώθηκε χωρίς την παρουσία κανενός φίλου ή συγγενή.
Σημείωση :Αφορμή για τη ανάρτηση αυτού του κειμένου στάθηκαν μερικά βιβλία που έτυχε να διαβάσω μετά το θάνατο του Μάικλ Τζάκσον και που σαν θέμα είχαν, φυσικά, τη ζωή του. Aυτό που μου έκανε μεγάλη εντύπωση σε αυτές τις “βιογραφίες” ήταν το πόσο πρόχειρα ήταν φτιαγμένες και το πόσο ανακριβείς ήταν. Περιττό να πω ότι μερικές είχαν γραφτεί μέσα σε δυο-τρείς εβδομάδες μετά το θάνατο του Τζάκσον. Αν κάποιος ήθελε να μάθει μέσα απο αυτές τις λεπτομέρειες για τις κατηγορίες του 1993 και του 2005, θα απογοητευόταν οικτρά. Το σύνολο σχεδόν των “συγγραφέων” είτε φρόντιζε να περάσει το θέμα στα γρήγορα ή παρουσιάζε “γεγονότα” που προέρχοντα απο ταμπλόιντ εφημερίδες όπως η Mirror, η Sun κλπ. Σχεδόν κανένας δεν βασιζόταν σε έγκυρες πηγές (δικαστικά έγγραφα,εφημερίδες κλπ) για να καλύψει το θέμα των κατηγορίων. Αλλά απο την άλλη, θα μου πείς, ποιός κάθετε τώρα να ψάχνει τις αιτίες πίσω απο τις κατηγορίες; Δεν βαρίεσαι. Ας αφήσουμε να πιστέψουν για τον Τζάκσον ό,τι θέλουν. Εξάλλου ο Τζάκσον είναι. Ποιός νοιάζεται;