“Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in these boys’ faces. This is the spirit of boyhood, a life I never had and will always dream of. This is the life I want for my children.”
This inscription by Michael Jackson was found inside a book presented as evidence in Jackson’s child molestation trial. It was a very small piece in a larger puzzle that enabled jurors a glimpse inside the mind of one of entertainment’s most enigmatic superstars.
The book I just finished, Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones, revealed much about this trial and icon that was never reported in the mainstream media. In fact, she was working as a professional analyst on the trial, often reporting on CNN and Fox News, and was initially convinced that Michael Jackson deserved to go to jail. After sitting in the courtroom and hearing daily evidence, she soon decided that Jackson was being falsely accused.
She spoke of the obvious bias in the media towards Michael, how they would use camera angles and lighting effects to accentuate his facial features or alter his skin tone. Jones revealed that all the hours and money the media pumped into covering the trial was a gamble that would only pay off if Michael Jackson went to jail. There were over 2,000 reporters in Santa Barbara, and plans were already in place for insider reports from the jail where he would be housed. When he was acquitted, the media was dumbfounded and quickly left Santa Barbara.
Given the obvious bias present in the media, it should surprise no one that very few Americans had the opportunity to hear any of the evidence or testimony that supported Michael’s innocence. It is also unsurprising that when the author decided to write this book, she said that no publisher would touch it. She wound up publishing it herself, because she was convinced this man was innocent and people should hear the truth.
Here are a few of the things that were rarely (if ever) reported:
- The family of the accuser, the Arvizos, had a track record of accusing people of sexual and physical abuse. The mother, Janet, had made similar charges against her estranged ex-husband. She had also accused guards at a J.C. Penney’s store of accosting her in the parking lot, where she said that one guard removed her bra and pinched her nipple 25 times. She testified that her son, Gavin (Jackson’s accuser), had to put her breast back into her bra after the assault.
- Janet Arvizo claimed that Michael Jackson was holding her prisoner at Neverland in order to prevent her from talking to the media. In fact, receipts and security logs proved that she often left the ranch for full-body waxes, manicures, shopping, and dental visits – all on Michael’s dime. She also testified that she “escaped” from Neverland three different times, only to return again in a few days.
- Gavin’s taped testimony to police and his testimony in court contradicted each other. He changed the amount of times that he claimed to be fondled. He claimed he couldn’t remember important events. He did not appear to be emotionally upset when detailing his alleged molestation to the jury.
- Almost every single witness that the prosecution called to the stand wound up enraging the DA when they corroborated evidence presented by the defense. Many of them praised Michael Jackson as a wonderful human being. That included most of his staff and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, who was in the middle of a custody battle with him over their two children.
- Witnesses who took the stand to report unsubstantiated claims of inappropriate conduct by Michael Jackson were proven to have a financial motive. Some had already sold their stories to tabloids or previously sued Mr. Jackson for wrongful termination. One maid and two security guards who testified against Michael had already lost their civil case against him and had been ordered to pay Jackson’s court costs.
- Several celebrities had been victims of the Arvizo family before Michael Jackson ever encountered them. They included Chris Tucker and George Lopez. Both testified that the family had pressured them for money and claimed they couldn’t afford Gavin’s cancer treatments. It was later discovered that he had been covered by his father’s insurance the entire time. Larry King and Jay Leno also testified for the defense.
- Previous allegations were allowed into evidence in an attempt to show a pattern of conduct by Mr. Jackson. The prosecution claimed that five boys were molested by Michael Jackson in the past. Three of those five boys testified in Michael Jackson’s defense, claiming that nothing sexual had ever happened. Macaulay Culkin, one of the so-called victims, testified that the prosecution had never even contacted him prior to publicly declaring him a “victim.” The two remaining young men had both received multi-million dollar settlements and one refused to testify in this trial.
- Michael’s lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau, revealed that the only reason that Michael had paid out settlements in the past was because his business associates had advised him to “pay to make it go away.” They had money invested in Jackson and wanted him to focus on making a return on that investment instead of spending time and money defending himself in court.
- Janet Arvizo, who many observers felt had played a large role in creating the accusations, admitted on the stand to lying under oath in a separate case. She also invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions about welfare fraud, which she was later convicted of.
- Of the scores of pornographic magazines admitted into evidence, none of them depicted children. In fact, they bolstered Michael’s assertions that he is a heterosexual male.
- The time-line was considered quite strange, as the family claimed that Michael molested the boy after an interview on ABC had aired showing Michael Jackson holding hands with Gavin and after a public firestorm of controversy about his relationship with the boy had erupted. If one were to believe the prosecutor, Michael molested Gavin during a time that he was so worried about his image that he was holding the Arvizos hostage and planning to fly them out of Neverland in a hot-air balloon.
I make no apologies for being a Michael Jackson fan or for being profoundly happy when he was found innocent of these charges. However, I believe I have been able to look at the available evidence and make an unbiased decision on his guilt or innocence. Having read this book, I am thoroughly convinced that the jury made the right decision, and I’m glad that Ms. Jones had the courage to set the record straight.
Michael Jackson left the courtroom a broken man; one who may never reclaim the youthful innocence that catapulted him to the top of the charts and made him a household name, and whose career has probably suffered irreparable harm. He may have avoided years behind bars, but his world is another kind of prison – one where he is entrapped by a hungry media and the innuendo of a misinformed public.