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1993 child sexual abuse accusations against Michael Jackson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In mid-1993, Evan Chandler accused American pop star Michael Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son, Jordan "Jordy" Chandler. The relationship between Jackson and Jordan had begun in May 1992; Chandler initially encouraged the friendship.[1] The friendship became well known as the tabloid media reported that Jackson had become a member of the Chandler family. In 1993, Chandler confronted his ex-wife June, who had custody of Jordan, with suspicions that their son had been in an inappropriate relationship with Jackson, but June dismissed his worries.[2][3] Chandler threatened to go public with the evidence he claimed to have.[3]

Jackson asked his lawyer Bert Fields to intervene.[2] On July 15, Abrams, a psychologist, sent Chandler's attorney Barry Rothman a letter stating there was "reasonable suspicion" of sexual abuse. He wrote that if it had been a real case,[clarification needed] he would be required by law to contact the Los Angeles County Department of Children's Services.[4] On August 4, Chandler and Jordan met with Jackson and Anthony Pellicano, Jackson's private investigator, and Chandler read out Abrams' letter. He then opened negotiations to resolve the issue with a financial settlement.[5][6] Chandler and Rothman had rejected a $350,000 offer from Jackson. On August 16, June's attorney notified Rothman that he would file papers to force Chandler to return Jordan to allow him to go on[clarification needed] Jackson's Dangerous World Tour.

On the day Jackson began the third leg of his tour, news of the allegations broke to the public and received worldwide media attention. Jackson cancelled the remainder of the tour due to health problems arising from the scandal. In January 1994, Jackson reached a financial settlement for $23,000,000 with the Chandlers and in September a criminal investigation was closed. The allegations affected his public image and commercial standing, and several endorsement deals were canceled, including Jackson's decade-long Pepsi endorsement. Similar allegations were made by other parties in the following decades, leading to a trial in which Jackson was found not guilty. In 2009, five months after Jackson's death, Evan Chandler committed suicide in his apartment in Jersey City.


Jackson's Neverland Ranch home, where the sexual abuse was alleged to have taken place
Jackson's Neverland Ranch home, where the sexual abuse was alleged to have taken place

Jackson became firm friends with Jordan Chandler and his family after a meeting in May 1992, as he was a fan of Jackson.[7] Their friendship became so close that the National Enquirer ran a featured story with the title "Michael's New Adopted Family". The story implied that Jackson had "stolen" the boy from his estranged father, Evan Chandler, a dentist. Chandler was jealous over Jackson's influence on his son.[8] According to biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, Chandler asked, "Look, are you having sex with my son?" When Jackson said no, Chandler's opinion of Jackson changed.[8][clarification needed]

FALSE Jackson invited Jordan, his stepsister and his mother to visit his Neverland Ranch on the weekends. They would also take trips to Las Vegas and Florida.[7] These trips interfered with Jordan's scheduled visits with his father, with Jordan preferring to visit Neverland.[9] By mid-1993, it was revealed[how?] that Jackson had children sleep in his bed with him at Neverland, which attracted media scrutiny after child sexual abuse allegations[which?] were brought against him.[10][11]

In May 1993, when Jackson and Jordan stayed with Chandler, Chandler urged Jackson to spend more time with his son and even suggested that Jackson build an addition to the house so that Jackson could stay there.[1] After the zoning department said this could not be built, Chandler suggested that Jackson build him a new home.[1] That month, Jordan and June flew with Jackson to Monaco for the World Music Awards.[1][9] According to June's lawyer, Michael Freeman, "Evan began to get jealous of the involvement and felt left out."[1] Upon their return, Chandler was pleased with a five-day visit from Jackson, during which Jackson slept in a room with Jordan and his stepbrother.[1] Chandler said this is when he became suspicious of sexual misconduct by Jackson, although he said that Jackson and Jordan were clothed when he saw them in bed together, and has never claimed to have witnessed sexual misconduct.[12]

On July 2, 1993, in a private telephone conversation, Chandler was recorded[how?] saying:

There was no reason why [Jackson] had to stop calling me ... I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find [Chandler's lawyer Barry Rothman], 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 smart and he's hungry for publicity. Everything's going 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. I've given him full authority to do that. Jackson is an evil guy, he is worse than that and I have the evidence to prove it. If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever ... Michael's career will be over.[13]

In the same conversation, when asked how this would affect his son, Chandler replied:

That's irrelevant to me ... It will be a massacre if I don't get what I want. It's going to be bigger than all us put together ... This man [Jackson] is going to be humiliated beyond belief ... He will not sell one more record.[13]

The recorded conversation was a critical aspect of Jackson's defense against the allegations made against him. He and his supporters argued that he was the victim of a jealous father whose only goal was to extort money from him.[13] In October 1994, Mary A. Fischer of GQ magazine reported it was Chandler who initially accused Jackson of molesting his son, before he demanded a screenwriting deal from Jackson instead of going to the police.[14][15]

Use of sedatives

According to Taraborrelli, Chandler was forced to admit that he had used the controversial sedative sodium amytal when he extracted a tooth from Jordan in early August.[16] Sodium amytal is a barbiturate that puts people in a hypnotic state when injected intravenously. Studies done in 1952 debunked the drug as a truth serum[clarification needed]and demonstrated that it enabled false memories to be implanted.[5]

Dr. Phillip Resnick, a Cleveland psychiatrist,[17] said it was "a psychiatric medication" and "People will say things under sodium amytal that are blatantly untrue".[5] In May 1994, in Napa County, California, Gary Ramona won a lawsuit against his daughter's therapist and the psychiatrist who had given her sodium amytal.[5][18] The psychiatrist claimed the drug helped Ramona's daughter remember specific details of sexual molestation by Ramona, but a court brief written by Martin Orne, a University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist who pioneered research of hypnosis and sodium amytal, stated that the drug is "not useful in ascertaining 'truth' . . . The patient becomes sensitive and receptive to suggestions due to the context and to the comments of the interviewers."[18] This was the first successful legal challenge to the "repressed memory phenomenon".[5]

Dr. Kenneth Gottlieb, a San Francisco psychiatrist, said: "It’s absolutely a psychiatric drug ... I would never want to use a drug that tampers with a person’s unconscious unless there was no other drug available. And I would not use it without resuscitating equipment, in case of allergic reaction, and only with an M.D. anesthesiologist present."[5] According to Dr. John Yagiela, coordinator of the anesthesia and pain control department of the UCLA School of Dentistry, "It’s unusual for it to be used [for pulling a tooth]" and "better, safer alternatives are available."[5]

On May 3, 1994, KCBS-TV reported that Chandler claimed the drug was used for tooth extraction and that the allegations came out[clarification needed] while Jordan was under the influence of the drug.[5] Mark Torbiner, the dental anesthesiologist who administered the drug, told GQ that if sodium amytal was used, "it was for dental purposes".[5] According to Diane Dimond of Hard Copy, Torbiner's records show that Robinul and Vistarol was administered instead of sodium amytal.[19] The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was investigating Torbiner's administration of drugs in house calls, where he mostly gave patients morphine and Demerol.[5] His credentials with the Board of Dental Examiners indicated that he was restricted by law to administering drugs solely for dental-related procedures, but he had not adhered to those restrictions.[20] For instance, he had given general anesthetic to Barry Rothman during hair-transplant procedures.[20] Torbiner had introduced Chandler and Rothman in 1991, when Rothman needed dental work.[5]


Over the next couple of months, the parties of Jackson and Chandler engaged in unsuccessful out-of-court negotiations. Chandler and his legal team asked for $20 million, or threatened to take the dispute to a criminal court.[6] Jackson refused, saying, "No way in hell". A few weeks later, Jackson's legal team gave a counter-offer of $1 million, which was declined by Chandler.[6] Pellicano said he made the offers in an attempt to catch the Chandler's negotiating[why?] and recorded one of the telephone calls to Rothman to demonstrate this.[21] Chandler lowered his request to $15 million. Jackson refused and lowered his offer to $350,000, which Chandler refused. With both sides unable to reach an agreement, Chandler decided to take it to court.[6][22]

Chandler took Jordan to a psychiatrist, Dr. Mathis Abrams. Over a three-hour session with Abrams, Jordan said he had had a sexual relationship with Jackson that went on for several months, and which included incidents of kissing, masturbation and oral sex. He repeated these allegations to police and gave a detailed description of what he alleged was Jackson's penis.[6][23]

Allegations made public and investigation

On August 18, the Los Angeles Police Department's Sexually Exploited Child Unit began a criminal investigation into Jackson. The same day, June told police that she did not believe Jackson had molested her son.[11][24] On August 21, a search warrant was issued, allowing police to search Neverland Ranch. Police questioned 30 children who were friends of Jackson, who all stated that Jackson was not a child molester.[10][24] A police officer involved in the investigation told The Los Angeles Times that no evidence (medical, photographic or video) could be found that would support a criminal filing.[24]

On the day the allegations were made public, August 24, Jackson began the third leg of his Dangerous World Tour, in Bangkok. That same day, Jackson's investigator held a press conference accusing Chandler of trying to extort $20 million. He did not mention that Jackson had made several counter-offers.[10][24] On August 25, Jackson's young friends Brett Barnes and Wade Robson held a press conference in which they stated that they had slept in the same bed as Jackson, but nothing sexual in nature had occurred.[25][26] Jackson's family held another press conference to show support, saying it was their "unequivocal belief" that Michael had been made a victim of a cruel and obvious attempt to take advantage of his fame and wealth.[25][26]

The police began an investigation into Chandler, and found that he was $68,400 behind in his child support payments, despite being well-paid as a dentist.[7] On November 8, police searched the Jackson family home, Hayvenhurst, but found nothing of importance.[10][27] According to internal reports from the LA County DCFS at the time, Chandler's story remained largely consistent but dates, places, times and some details were inconsistent.[28] According to reports, the DCFS had investigated Jackson beginning in August 1993 with the Chandler allegation and again in 2003. The LAPD and DCFS found no credible evidence of abuse or sexual misconduct.[29][30]

Allegation by LaToya Jackson

In the winter of 1993, Jackson's sister La Toya Jackson, who had not spoken to him for several years, claimed that Jackson was a pedophile. La Toya stated: "I cannot and will not be a silent collaborator in his crimes against young children ... Forget about the superstar, forget about the icon. If he was any other 35-year-old man who was sleeping with little boys, you wouldn't like this guy."[31] She claimed that checks had been made out to several boys and that Jackson's own physical abuse as a child had turned him into an abuser.[31][32] She later claimed[when?] that Jackson had tried to kidnap and kill her.[32]

LaToya claimed to have proof of Jackson's pedophilia and offered to disclose it for $500,000. A bidding war between US and UK tabloids began, but fell through when they realized that her revelations were not what she had claimed.[31][clarification needed] The rest of the family disowned her, and in later years she insisted she had been forced to make the allegations by her then-husband for financial gain.[31] Just prior to making the allegations, her husband had been arrested for assaulting her.[33] By the turn of the millennium Jackson had forgiven his sister.[31]

Lisa Marie Presley

Jackson first met Lisa Marie Presley in 1974, during a Jackson 5 engagement at the MGM Grand.[25] In November 1992, Jackson was reconnected with Presley through a mutual friend, and they talked almost every day by telephone.[34] As the child sexual abuse accusations became public, he became dependent on Presley for emotional support; she was concerned about his faltering health.[35] She explained, "I believed he didn't do anything wrong and that he was wrongly accused and yes I started falling for him. I wanted to save him. I felt that I could do it."[36] She described him in one call as high, incoherent and delusional.[35] He proposed to her over the phone towards the fall of 1993, saying, "If I asked you to marry me, would you do it?"[35] The marriage was, in her words, "a married couple's life ... that was sexually active".[37] They divorced less than two years later, but remained friends.[38]

Jackson's health

Jackson had begun taking painkillers, Valium, Xanax and Ativan to deal with the stress of the allegations.[35] A few months after the allegations became news, he had lost approximately 10 pounds in weight and had stopped eating.[39] According to Jackson, he had a tendency to stop eating when "really upset or hurt" and his friend Elizabeth Taylor had to make him eat: "She took the spoon and would put it into my mouth."[40] He said that he eventually became unconscious and had to be fed intravenously.[40]

In a court deposition unrelated to the alleged child abuse,[clarification needed] Jackson appeared drowsy, lacked concentration and slurred while speaking. He said he could not remember the dates of his album releases or the names of people he had worked with, and took several minutes to name some of his recent albums.[41] His health had deteriorated to the extent that he canceled the remainder of his tour and flew with Taylor and her husband to London. When Jackson arrived at the airport, he had to be held up. He was rushed to the home of Elton John's manager and afterwards to a clinic.[27][42] When he was searched for drugs on entry, 18 vials of medicine were found in a suitcase. Jackson booked the whole fourth floor of the clinic, and was put on a Valium IV to wean him from painkillers.[11][27][42] His spokesperson told reporters that Jackson was "barely able to function adequately on an intellectual level".[42] While in the clinic, he took part in group and one-on-one therapy sessions.[27][42]

Strip search

In December 1993, Jackson was served with a warrant for a strip search, as police wanted to verify Jordan Chandler's description of Jackson's private anatomy.[31] The order stated that officers were to examine, photograph and videotape Jackson's entire body, "including his penis, anus, hips, buttocks and any other part of his body".[31][43][44] The warrant stated they were looking for discoloration or any other signs of vitiligo that he had spoken about, or any other skin disorder, and that refusal to comply would be used in court as an indication of guilt.[43]

The strip search took place on December 20, 1993, at Jackson's ranch. Those present for the prosecution were Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon, a detective, a photographer and a doctor. Those present on behalf of Jackson were his two attorneys, a physician, a detective, a bodyguard and a photographer.[31] The attorneys and Sneddon agreed to leave the room when the examination took place. At Jackson's insistence, the prosecution detective also left. In an emotional state, Jackson stood on a platform in the middle of the room and disrobed. The search lasted for approximately 25 minutes. He was never touched.[31]

Reports vary on whether the photographs of Jackson corroborated Jordan's allegations. Reuters reported that an unidentified source informed them on January 27, 1994, that "photos of Michael Jackson's genitalia do not match description given by the boy",[45][46] which was reported in USA Today on January 28.[47][48] However, according to child sexual abuse consultant Bill Dworin, one of the lead detectives on the case, Jordan's description comported with the photos taken of Jackson's genitalia.[49] Dr. Richard Strick, who conducted the examination of Jackson's genitals, stated, "I was told later that the photos and description absolutely matched".[50] According to Sneddon in a 2005 memorandum in People v. Jackson, "The photographs reveal a mark on the right side of Defendant's penis at about the same relative location as the dark blemish located by Jordan Chandler on his drawing of Defendant's erect penis" and "Chandler's graphic representation of the discolored area on Defendant's penis is substantially corroborated by the photographs."[51] Sneddon ended his declaration with "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct except for those statements made on information and belief, as to those statements, I believe them to be true."[51][51] Sergeant Gary Spiegel, the sheriff’s photographer, claims he observed a dark spot on the lower side of Jackson’s penis.[52]

Jordan claimed that Jackson was circumcised.[15][31][53] Jackson's autopsy report reveals that he had not been circumcised and his foreskin appeared naturally intact and showed no signs of having been restored from a circumcision.[54] Taraborrelli claims that Jordan correctly noted patchy colored skin on his buttocks, short pubic hair, and testicles marked pink and brown;[55] however, initially investigators claimed Chandler said Jackson had splotches on his genitals a color "similar to the color of his face" rather than pink and brown.[53]

On February 10, 1993,[56] Jackson had revealed to Oprah that he had a skin disorder that destroyed skin pigmentation and left blotches on his skin, and that make-up was used to even out his skin.[57] The interview was watched by 90 million viewers, and after it aired, expert information on vitiligo was widely shared in the media.[57] According to private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who questioned Jordan in July 1993 after hearing Evan's taped phone call, Jordan denied that he ever saw Jackson's body but said he did lift his shirt once to show him the blotches on his skin.[6] At the behest of a grand jury, investigators made a probe into Jackson's history, including familial interviews, to see if he had any surgeries or procedures done to alter his body's appearance as the jury felt there was a lack of a clear match with Jordan's description.[58]

Publicized later[when?] was an internal report within the LAPD and Los Angeles County DCFS which showed the DCFS had cleared Jackson early on of unfounded molestation charges from the Chandlers, and later from the Arvizos in 2003.[59][60]

Jackson's response

On December 22, Jackson responded to events for the first time via satellite from his ranch:

As you may already know, after my tour ended I remained out of the country undergoing treatment for a dependency on pain medication ... There have been many disgusting statements made recently concerning allegations of improper conduct on my part. These statements about me are totally false ... I will say I am particularly upset by the handling of the mass—matter by the incredible, terrible mass media. At every opportunity, the media has dissected and manipulated these allegations to reach their own conclusions. I ask all of you to wait and hear the truth before you label or condemn me. Don't treat me like a criminal, because I am innocent. I have been forced to submit to a dehumanizing and humiliating examination...It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life, one that no person should ever have to suffer ... But if this is what I have to endure to prove my innocence, my complete innocence, so be it.[10][11]

A poll at the time, conducted by A Current Affair, found that nearly 75 percent of Americans believed Jackson was telling the truth.[61] While Jackson sought medical help for his faltering health, his legal team and friends, such as Presley and Taylor, took control of his defense and finances.[39] Much of Jackson's legal team would meet three times a week at Taylor's home to discuss the case.[39] Taylor then called in more legal professionals on Jackson's behalf. Eventually, Presley, Taylor, and Jackson's team agreed that Jackson was too sick to endure a lengthy trial, and that he should settle out of court.[42]

Media reaction

Most of the information available on the allegations was released (officially or unofficially) by the prosecution and unchallenged by Jackson.[15] Jackson was largely portrayed as guilty by the media,[15] which used sensational headlines or headlines that implied guilt[25] when the content itself did not support the headline,[24] purchased stories of his alleged criminal activity[62] and confidential leaked material from the police investigation,[7] deliberately used unflattering photographs,[25] and exercised a general lack of objectivity.[25]

The New York Post ran the headline "Peter Pan or Pervert", despite minimal information having been disclosed by the police.[25] Two weeks after the allegations were reported, the headline, "Michael Jackson: A Curtain Closes" reflected the attitude of most tabloid media.[63] In a piece for Hard Copy, Diane Dimond—a journalist who spent the next 15 years trying to prove Jackson was a pedophile—ran a story stating it had acquired "new documents in the criminal investigation of Michael Jackson, and they are chilling; they contain the name of child movie actor Macaulay Culkin". The document stated that Culkin strongly denied being abused by Jackson.[24]

Two tabloid media bought confidential leaked documents from the LAPD for $20,000.[7] A number of Jackson's former employees—most of whom had worked at Neverland—sold stories alleged prior sexual misconduct on Jackson's part, instead of reporting their claims to police. One couple asked for $100,000, claiming that Jackson had sexually caressed Macaulay Culkin. They were prepared to expand upon this allegation for a fee of $500,000, whereby they would allege that Jackson put his hands down Culkin's pants. When the story broke, Culkin strongly denied the allegation, and did so again in court during Jackson's 2005 trial.[62] A former security guard made various allegations about Jackson, saying he was fired because he "knew too much",[64] and alleged that he was ordered by Jackson to destroy a photo of a naked boy. Instead of reporting this to police, he sold the story to Hard Copy for $150,000.[64] Afterwards, Jackson's maid, Branca Francia, alleged that she "quit in disgust" after seeing Jackson in a shower with a child, but did not inform the police. It later emerged that Francia had been fired in 1991, but nevertheless sold her story to Hard Copy for $20,000.[64]

When Jackson left the US to go into drug rehabilitation, the Daily Mirror (UK) held a "Spot the Jacko" contest, offering readers a trip to Disney World if they could correctly predict where he would appear next.[27] A Daily Express headline read "Drug Treatment Star Faces Life on the Run", while a News of the World headline accused Jackson of being a fugitive. These tabloids also falsely alleged that Jackson had traveled to Europe to have cosmetic surgery that would make him unrecognizable.[27] Geraldo Rivera set up a mock trial, with a jury made up of audience members, even though Jackson had not been charged with a crime.[65]

Civil lawsuit

A civil lawsuit was filed by Jordan Chandler and his parents on September 14, 1993.[66] In late 1993, district attorneys in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties both convened grand juries to assess whether criminal charges should be filed against Jackson.[67] By January 1, 1994, $2 million had been spent by prosecution departments in California and the grand juries had questioned 200 witnesses, but Jordan's allegations could not be corroborated.[68] On January 4, 1994, Chandler's attorney, Larry Feldman, filed a motion for the photos from Jackson's December 1993 body search from investigators, saying Jackson's attorneys and the L.A. district attorney had refused to give him copies.[69] A few weeks later, Feldman petitioned the court that he should be allowed access to Jackson's finances over concerns that Jackson's wealth would give him an unfair advantage in court. One adviser to Jackson stated, "You can take pictures of Michael's dick and he's not gonna like it, but once you start trying to figure out how much money he has, that's where he stops playing around."[68]

Jackson and his lawyers filed a motion for Superior Court Judge David M. Rothman to postpone the civil case until the criminal investigation was concluded. Feldman filed a counter-motion, saying the delay would hurt Jordan's chances for recovery and make it more difficult to gather evidence.[70] It is legal to postpone a civil lawsuit past the criminal statute of limitations as a lawsuit can still be filed past that date, such as the case of Pacers, Inc. v. Superior Court.[71] Also, the constitutional right to a "speedy trial" only applies to criminal cases according to the Sixth Amendment, not civil cases.[72]

On November 23, Judge Rothman accepted Feldman's motion and set March 21, 1994, as the start date for the civil trial.[73] Rothman ordered Jackson's deposition scheduled before the end of January 1994, but noted he might reconsider if Jackson was indicted on criminal charges.[74] Jackson agreed to be deposed on January 18.[74] His attorneys said he was eager to testify, but also said they might oppose the deposition if criminal charges were filed or were still under consideration on his deposition date.[74] They said if charges were filed, they would want the criminal trial to go first.[74] However, when authorities notified Jackson's lawyers that they expected their investigation to continue at least through February, Jackson's team still failed to win a delay of the civil case.[75] Jackson's lawyers also lost a motion to prevent Feldman from turning over information (e.g. from the civil deposition) to prosecutors pursuing possible criminal charges.[75]

The concerns about a civil trial during an ongoing criminal investigation, and about the prosecutor's access to the plaintiff's information in the civil trial, stemmed from Jackson's Fifth Amendment rights.[72] As two grand juries had deemed there was insufficient evidence for charges as of January 1,[68] the prosecution might have been able to form the elements of a criminal case around the defense strategy in the civil trial; creating a situation akin to double jeopardy.[76][77] For instance, prosecutor Tom Sneddon altered fundamental elements of his case in 2004 after evidence undermining the Arvizo family's 2003 allegations appeared after Jackson's initial arraignment.[78] Upon discovery of two taped interviews in which the Arvizo family praised Jackson and denied any abuse, Sneddon introduced a conspiracy charge and claimed they were forced to lie against their will.[78] When Jackson was re-arraigned in April 2004 for the conspiracy charge, the dates of the alleged molestation on the charge sheet had been shifted by almost two weeks.[78] Jackson's lawyer, Mark Geragos, had announced on NBC in January 2004 that Jackson had a "concrete, iron-clad alibi" for the dates on the charge sheet.[78]

On January 24, 1994, prosecutors announced that they would not bring charges against Chandler for attempted extortion, as Jackson's camp has been slow to report the extortion claim to the police and had tried to negotiate a settlement with Chandler for several weeks.[79] Evan had first made his demand for a financial settlement on August 4, 1993, and the Jackson camp filed extortion charges against Evan and his attorney, Rothman, in late August 1993.[80] After tape recordings supporting the extortion claim were released to the media on August 30,[81] a lawyer for Jackson explained they had not gone to the police earlier because "It was our hope that this would all go away. We tried to keep it as much in-house as we could."[82]

In the extortion investigation, a search warrant was never sought to search the homes and offices of Chandler and Rothman and no grand jury was convened when both men declined to be interviewed by police.[67] In contrast, the police searched Jackson's residences solely based on Jordan's allegations reported by a psychiatrist with no particular expertise in child sexual abuse.[83][84] They increased their efforts after no supporting evidence was found in their raids and after questioning almost 30 children and their families, all of whom said Jackson had done nothing wrong.[80][83] Officers flew to the Philippines to interview two ex-housekeepers who had sold a molestation story to the tabloids but decided it lacked credibility.[80] Several parents also complained to one of Jackson's attorneys of aggressive investigative techniques by the police. For example, they claimed the police frightened their children with lies such as "We have nude photos of you" to pressure them into accusing Jackson,[70][80] and told parents their children had been molested even though their children had denied it.[80]


On January 25, 1994,[85] the lawsuit was settled out of court, with $15,331,250 to be held in a trust fund for Jordan,[86] $1.5 million for each of his parents, and $5 million for the family's lawyer, for a total of approximately $23 million.[87] Another source showed Feldman was to receive $3 million based on a September 1993 retainer, for a total of $21 million.[88] According to a motion passed to Judge Melville in 2004, leading up to the 2005 trial, Chandler was the one who initiated the settlement with Jackson's insurer.[89]

Jackson's insurance company "negotiated and paid the settlement, over the protests of Mr. Jackson and his personal legal counsel" and was "the source of the settlement amounts", as noted in a 2005 memorandum in People v. Jackson.[90] The memorandum also noted that "an insurance carrier has the right to settle claims covered by insurance where it decides settlement is expedient and the insured may not interfere with nor prevent such settlements", as established by a number of precedents in California.[90] Defeating the right would involve convincing a court with the power to overrule the precedent that the earlier decision was either wrongly decided or more often, 'clearly' wrong (depending on the criteria of the court)[91] or the court must be convinced to distinguish the case.[92] That is, to make the ruling narrower than that in the precedent due to some difference in facts between the current and precedent case, while still supporting the result reached in the earlier case.[92]

In 2004, Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau in People v. Jackson said: "People who intended to earn millions of dollars from his record and music promotions did not want negative publicity from these lawsuits interfering with their profits. Michael Jackson now regrets making these payments. These settlements were entered into with one primary condition – that condition was that Mr. Jackson never admitted any wrongdoing. Mr. Jackson always denied doing anything wrong ... Mr. Jackson now realizes the advice he received was wrong."[93] Jackson explained why had he had settled: "I wanted to go on with my life. Too many people had already been hurt. I want to make records. I want to sing. I want to perform again ... It's my talent. My hard work. My life. My decision."[68] He also wanted to avoid a "media circus".[94]

Closure of investigation

Although some perceive the settlement as an admission of guilt, the settlement agreement specifically stated that Jackson admitted no wrongdoing and no liability[87][95] and legally, a settlement cannot be used as evidence of guilt in future civil and criminal cases.[96] The settlement payment was "for alleged personal injuries arising out of claims of negligence and not for claims of intentional or wrong acts of sexual molestation."[88][97] In the settlement, both parties agreed they would not speak about the case details in public but it did not prevent the Chandlers from testifying in a criminal trial or sharing information with authorities in a criminal investigation.[98] The settlement document adamantly states there is no admission of wrongdoing on Jackson's part and no admission of molestation or immodesty[98] and that under no circumstances shall any payment be withheld from the complainants, even if they were to testify against Jackson.[98]

The Chandlers' lawyer Mr. Feldman explicitly stated "nobody bought anybody's silence".[99] Bribery to not testify in a trial is a felony according to California Penal Code 138.[100] Receiving such a bribe is also a felony according to this law.[100] District Attorney Gil Garcetti stated the settlement did not affect criminal prosecution of the molestation allegations, "The criminal investigation of singer Michael Jackson is ongoing and will not be affected by the announcement of the civil case settlement."[101]

Jordan Chandler was interviewed after the settlement by detectives seeking evidence of child molestation, but "no criminal charges were filed as a result of that interview."[102] A Santa Barbara County grand jury disbanded on May 2, 1994, without indicting Jackson, while a Los Angeles County grand jury continued to investigate the sexual abuse allegations.[103][104] After which time the Chandlers stopped co-operating with the criminal investigation around July 6, 1994.[105] The police never pressed criminal charges.[94] Citing a lack of evidence without Jordan's testimony, the state closed its investigation on September 22, 1994.[68][106] According to the grand juries, the evidence presented by the Santa Barbara police and the LAPD was not convincing enough to indict Jackson or subpoena him,[68][103] even though grand juries can indict the accused purely on hearsay evidence.[107][108] According to a 1994 report by Variety, a source in contact with the grand juries stated, "none of the witnesses so far have offered anything that would directly implicate the singer."[73] According to a report in 1994 by Showbiz Today, one of the 1994 grand jurors claimed they "did not hear any damaging testimony" during the hearings.[109]


A week after the lawsuit settlement was announced on January 25, 1994,[110] L.A. District Attorney Gil Garcetti announced that he supported amending a law that prohibits forcing people who say they have been sexually assaulted to testify in criminal proceedings.[111][112] The amendment introduced into the state assembly the week of February 7 would have immediately allowed Garcetti to compel Jordan to testify.[112] Around that time, Santa Barbara police interviewed the 13-year-old son of one of Jackson's former maids (who had told them her son had spent time with Jackson) and then arranged for him to see a therapist after he repeatedly denied being abused.[111] In a deposition, his mother stated when she asked the police about who she could speak to about her concerns about their meetings and phone conversations with her son without her present, they arranged for her and her son to see separate therapists.[111][112] On April 11, 1994, the grand jury session in Santa Barbara was extended for an additional 90-day term to allow Sneddon to gather more evidence and prosecution sources admitted to being frustrated in their grand jury probe, failing to find direct evidence of the molestation charges.[113] The final grand jury disbanded without returning an indictment against Jackson.[114]

Three years later, Jordan Chandler's alleged account of the relationship was detailed in a book by journalist Victor M. Gutierrez. The book was said to be based on a diary the boy had kept at the time and included details of alleged sexual encounters between Jackson and him.[10] In 1995, Jackson filed a civil suit against Gutierrez for slander; the jury found in Jackson's favor, awarding him $2.7 million in damages. However, that suit was unrelated to the book and the judgement does not serve to refute the allegations contained within.[115] In 1996, Evan Chandler sued Jackson for around $60 million, claiming Jackson had breached an agreement never to discuss the case. In 1999, a court ruled in Jackson's favor and threw out the lawsuit.[10]

But the 1993 case would be revisited again with the 2003 allegations. There was more than a year between Jackson's 2003 arrest and the beginning of his trial and he was prevented by a gag order from responding to any stories in the media.[78] As in 1993, there were leaked documents e.g. Jordan Chandler's 1993 police statement.[78] The media was again eager to report on the allegations, with a tendency for sensationalism. And allegations sold to tabloid TV shows by disgruntled ex-employees in the 1990s were constantly in the news again.[78] Also similar to 1993, details of the Arvizo family's 2003 allegations were leaked.[78] These stories were mostly reported as allegations rather than facts, but the volume and frequency of stories, combined with Jackson's inability to refute them, had a devastating impact on public opinion of him.[78]

In a 2005 lecture at Harvard after Jackson's trial, Jackson's attorney Thomas Mesereau said the following about Jordan Chandler: "The prosecutors tried to get him to show up and he wouldn't. If he had, I had witnesses who were going to come in and say he told them it never happened and that he would never talk to his parents again for what they made him say. It turned out he'd gone into court and got legal emancipation from his parents."[78] In 2006, Jordan accused Evan of attacking him with a barbell, choking him and spraying his face with Mace. The charges were later dropped.[116] On November 5, 2009, fourteen weeks after Jackson's death, Evan Chandler was found dead following an apparent suicide.[117]

Music journalist Charles Thomson noted a continued media bias against Jackson after the Chandler suicide. Thomson said he was contacted by a British tabloid to supply information about the 1993 allegations, only to have them replace his carefully researched information with the common myths he advised them to avoid[15] and that the same misinformation was in every article he read about the suicide.[15] He noted when Jackson's FBI file was released the following month, the contents were portrayed by the media as giving an impression of guilt even though the file strongly supported his innocence.[15] He noted how Gene Simmons' allegations in 2010 about Jackson molesting children received over a hundred times more coverage than his interview with Jackson's long-time guitarist, Jennifer Batten, who rebutted Simmons' claims.[15]

Effect on Jackson's career

Jackson's commercial appeal and public image declined in the wake of the case. The government of Dubai barred him from performing in response to an anonymous pamphlet campaign that attacked him as immoral.[118] After performing 24 shows of the third leg of the Dangerous Tour,[citation needed] Jackson canceled the remainder of the tour, citing exhaustion.[119] He backed out of a deal to create a song and video to tie in with the film Addams Family Values, returning an estimated $5 million,[119] and a brand of fragrances was canceled because of Jackson's drug problems.[120] PepsiCo also ended their ten-year partnership with Jackson, causing some fans to boycott the company.[41] According to conflicting sources, Jackson agreed to compose music for the video game Sonic the Hedgehog 3, but left the project and went uncredited, possibly due to the allegations.[121]

Jackson produced a special show for cable-network HBO, For One Night Only, to be recorded in front of a special invited audience at New York City's Beacon Theater for transmission on HBO in December 1995. The shows were canceled after Jackson collapsed at the theater on December 6 during rehearsals. Jackson was admitted overnight to Beth Israel Medical Center North. The shows were never rescheduled. The following year, Jackson began the HIStory World Tour. Despite the show's success, Jackson's only concerts in the USA were two shows at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Jackson never performed another world tour.[122][relevant? ] Jackson completed the video once planned for Addams Family Values and released it as Ghosts, with a framing story about an eccentric maestro who entertains children and is pursued by a bigoted local official.[123]

Jackson's album HIStory, released shortly after the allegations, "creates an atmosphere of paranoia," according to one writer.[124] Its content focuses on the public struggles Jackson went through just prior to its production. In the songs "Scream", "Tabloid Junkie", and "You Are Not Alone", Jackson expressed his anger and hurt at the media.[125] In the track "D.S.", Jackson attacks a character identified as Tom Sneddon, the District Attorney that requested his strip search. He describes the person as an antisocial white supremacist who wanted to "get my ass, dead or alive". Of the song, Sneddon said, "I have not, shall we say, done him the honor of listening to it, but I've been told that it ends with the sound of a gunshot."[126] In the ballad "Stranger in Moscow", Jackson laments his "swift and sudden fall from grace".[124][125]

Further allegations

People v. Jackson

Jackson's 2003 arrest photograph
Jackson's 2003 arrest photograph
A man in a street holds a sign which reads "Sven rossen is a gino"
A fan showing support for Jackson in 2003

On December 18, 2003, Jackson was formally charged with seven counts of child sexual abuse and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent in order to commit a child sexual abuse felony against Gavin Arvizo.[127] Earlier that year, a Granada Television documentary, called Living with Michael Jackson, showed the Jackson holding hands and discussing sleeping arrangements with Arvizo.[128] Jackson denied the allegations, saying that the sleepovers were in no way sexual in nature. Sneddon again led the effort to prosecute Jackson.[129] These prosecutions led to complaints that Sneddon was motivated by a "vendetta" against Jackson. Evidence to support these claims include Sneddon joking about Jackson's greatest hits album being released on the same day as his arrest and saying, "Like the sheriff and I really are into that kind of music." He called Jackson "Wacko Jacko" and shouted "We got him, we finally got him" to the media, despite having only just begun the investigation and gathered limited information.[129][130]

The People v. Jackson trial began in Santa Maria, California, on January 31, 2005.[131] During the trial, the judge allowed testimony about past allegations, including the 1993 case, to establish whether the defendant had a propensity to commit certain crimes.[94][132] However, Jordan Chandler had left the country to avoid testifying.[78] In a lecture at Harvard after the trial, Thomas Mesereau said, "The prosecutors tried to get [Chandler] to show up and he wouldn't. If he had, I had witnesses who were going to come in and say he told them it never happened and that he would never talk to his parents again for what they made him say. It turned out he'd gone into court and got legal emancipation from his parents."[78] June Chandler testified that she had not spoken to her son in 11 years. During her testimony, she claimed that she could not remember being sued by Jackson[78] (who had counter-sued for extortion) and said that she had never heard of her own attorney.[78] However, she said she never witnessed any molestation.[78] Jackson was found unanimously not guilty of all charges by the jury on June 13, 2005.[78]

2013 child molestation allegations

On May 1, 2013, a lawyer for choreographer Wade Robson filed a complaint against the Michael Jackson Estate for "childhood sexual abuse". Howard Weitzman, the lawyer for Jackson's estate, called Robson's accusations "outrageous and pathetic."[133][134]

Robson appeared on The Today Show on May 16, 2013, to discuss the allegations. Robson told interviewer Matt Lauer that Jackson was "a pedophile and a child sexual abuser" who "performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him" over a seven-year period, beginning in 1990 when Robson was seven years old when he visited Jackson's Neverland Ranch for the first time.[135] In a 1993 deposition Robson's mother, Joy Robson, said that Jackson had "special friends", boys with whom he spent extra time that he replaced each year, and that Wade was Jackson's "special friend" in 1990.[136] In August 1993, after the allegations against Jackson were made public, Wade Robson and Jackson's other "special friend", Brett Barnes, held a press conference in which they stated that they had slept in Jackson's bed but nothing sexual had occurred.[137] Robson said in the Today Show interview that his denial of wrongdoing on Jackson's part during the 1993 investigation was a result of Jackson's "complete manipulation and brainwashing" of him. Robson alleged that at the time Jackson "would call me every day and role play and tell me the same sort of things and also tell me then that if anyone ever thought that we did these things, any of these sexual things, that both of us would go to jail for the rest of our lives." Robson was also a star witness for Jackson's defense at his 2005 trial. He said that his change of story was provoked by becoming a father and experiencing nervous breakdowns in 2011 and 2012.[138]

Robson filed an amended complaint on July 1, 2013, which stated, "The long-term psychological consequences of (Jackson’s) threats, sexual trauma and mental manipulation imprisoned (Robson’s) mind and prevented him from filing a timely claim just as effectively as if he had been physically imprisoned."[139]

On June 2, 2014, the trial for Robson's lawsuit against Jackson's estate for 'childhood sexual abuse' began.[140][141]

The lawsuit against the Jackson Estate was dismissed May 26, 2015, by a Los Angeles judge who ruled that Robson waited too long to seek legal action. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff wrote in his decision that Robson could file a lawsuit "only for a reasonable time period after any violence, intimidation or threatening conduct by the decedent ceases." [142] The lawsuit against the Jackson-owned companies was allowed to continue.[143]

Wade's trial-date in his lawsuit against MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures was set for March 2018.[144] Robson's lawyer stated that Jackson "operated the most sophisticated child sexual abuse procurement and facilitation operation the world has known", and that while his companies were supposedly "dedicated to creating and distributing Michael Jackson's music and entertainment, it actually served a dual purpose, and that was locating, producing and enabling his sexual abuse of kids". The lawyer for Jackson's estate, Howard Weitzman, stated that "[my] opinion is that summary judgment will be granted in this case and there won’t be any trial, but the court did set a trial date for a year away just in case."[145]

On December 19, 2017, Judge Mitchell Beckloff summarily dismissed the case against MJJ Ventures and MJJ Productions, the two remaining defendants, finding they were not liable for Robson's exposure to Jackson.[143] The ruling did not comment on the credibility of the allegations, and Robson's attorney stated his intention to appeal.[143]

2014 lawsuit

On August 4, 2014, James Safechuck filed court papers against Jackson's estate which alleged that Jackson abused him after he appeared alongside him in a Pepsi commercial. Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Jackson Estate, stated the whole lawsuit should be scrapped because, "This is a person who made his claim five years after Michael Jackson has passed away, more than 20 years after the incidents supposedly happened, and who has given sworn testimony that Michael never did anything inappropriate to him" [in 1993], and stated that this was just an attempt from Safechuck "to recover money from Jackson's beneficiaries" that should be rejected.[146][147]

Safechuck's lawsuit was dismissed on June 28, 2017, due to the statute of limitations having passed.[148]

2016 anonymous child molestation lawsuit

On October 18, 2016, an anonymous woman sued Michael Jackson's Estate, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures, alleging she had been sexually abused by Jackson when she was 12–15, from 1986 to 1989 in Jackson's Encino home, hotels, the "Smooth Criminal" set, the "Moonwalker" movie set, in the back of his limousine, his Neverland Ranch, and an apartment/condo he nicknamed "The Hideout". She provided letters, love notes allegedly written by Jackson, multiple gifts apparently given by Jackson, a jacket he supposedly gave to her after an Album photo-shoot, checks given to her from 1990 to 1993 totaling $920,000 sent from Michael Jackson, MJJ Ventures, and MJJ Productions—coming directly from Jackson's back-accounts, and a 1993 LAPD letter asking her to come in and speak to them -- stating that she could provide information regarding claims of child abuse, regarding their investigation. Her complaint alleges that she never considered her emotional/psychological injuries to be a result of her sexual activities with Jackson until she reflected on those experiences for the first time in September 2016, and that even if she had wanted to she could not possibly come forward earlier because she was threatened with physical harm if she ever told anyone, told that she would get in trouble with law enforcement and go to jail if she did, and that Jackson made her promise not to tell anyone. A lawyer for the businesses dismissed the allegations saying, "This is yet another attempt to hit the lottery by suing the estate of Michael Jackson more than seven years after Michael's death and close to 30 years after these incidents supposedly occurred. We believe this claim was created from whole cloth and is without any merit. It's also no coincidence that this woman is represented by the same attorneys involved in two other frivolous claims against the estate."[149][150]


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Works cited

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