From mjjr.net archives
|Before the summer of 1993, Michael Jackson was sitting on top of the world of entertainment much like a king sits upon his throne. Surrounded by dedicated fans and fellow celebrities alike, Jackson had just been inducted into the Grammy Legends Hall of Fame in February of the same year. Just a few months later, Jackson sent tongues and ratings wagging when he did a primetime, sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey that garnered a larger viewing audience than former President Bill Clinton’s televised town hall meeting. Then, in June 1993, all hell broke loose as news of child sex abuse allegations exploded around the world and life for Jackson has never been the same.So began the saga that continues to drag on unmercifully today, particularly in the wake of Mr. Jackson’s arrest and indictment on child molestation and attempted kidnapping. Jackson could spend potentially the next twenty years in prison if convicted. If one were to judge the merits of both allegations against Mr. Jackson solely upon the sensationalized “exclusives” from the likes of Diane Dimond or NBC’s Dateline, one would logically conclude that the chickens have simply come home to roost for the beleaguered music legend. Perhaps justice would finally be served after eleven years of innuendo, accusation, and legal drama. Perhaps Mr. Jackson would finally be exposed for the cold, calculating child predator that a great deal of the media is determined to portray him as.There is, however, one minor problem. We believe that based on what we have discovered after sifting through mounds of documents, articles, and interviews that the alleged abuse in 1993 and 2003 never happened.Hence, the Veritas Project concerns itself with providing key commentary on what we perceive to be lies that have, for too long, been allowed to fester on the personal reputation of Mr. Jackson. In addition, the Veritas Project is particularly concerned with the unencumbered manner in which people of questionable character and motive have been allowed to peddle their fabrications and accusations against Mr. Jackson like crack dealers on a street corner.
Out of both a concern and quest for ultimate truth concerning the matter, the Veritas Project attempts to offer a detailed assessment of the “facts” presented by the tabloid media and by those who do the prosecution’s bidding.
Contributors to this project are not fanatical Jackson worshippers who blindly follow the whims of their master. On the contrary, we are mothers, fathers, students, spouses – everyday, ordinary citizens who refuse to drink from the toxic wells of tabloid media pollution. We invite readers to not only peruse the findings provided here but also to draw their own conclusion about the matter.
The Veritas Project
Part I: 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.1This 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.2Did 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 Anne*, John* and Rob* 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 Anne and allegedly breaking her tailbone, hitting Rob in the head and punching him in the stomach, slapping one of John’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 John, 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 John 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 John 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 John 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, John and Rob 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, Rob 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, John 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 John “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 John briefly touched on the positive influence that Jackson had had on the boy’s recovery, the focus of the interview shifted when John 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,” John 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
So why did Michael Jackson opt to settle the civil lawsuit? According to legal secretary Geraldine Hughes, the civil trial was scheduled to precede the criminal trial, which would have been a violation of Jackson’s constitutional right to not self-incriminate. This, Hughes contends, prompted Jackson’s lawyers to advise him to settle the case.
Consistent with Hughes’ explanation, court documents show that Jackson’s lawyers filed a motion in 1994 asking for the civil proceedings to be stayed until after the criminal case was resolved; had their request been granted, any potential settlement would have been negotiated after the criminal trial was over. The motion, however, was denied.
Hughes describes the implications that would have resulted from the judge’s refusal to postpone the civil proceedings. “There was the threat of Michael Jackson having to face double jeopardy in having to defend himself in the criminal case as well as the civil case, even though the law is clearly designed to prevent a defendant from having to be tried twice on the same issue at the same time.”
Jackson’s lawyers filed another motion in 1994 asking for the District Attorney to be blocked from obtaining evidence used in the civil proceedings, a request that was also rejected. Hughes explains, “The District Attorney’s office was also laying in wait to utilize the information that was going to be uncovered or revealed in the civil lawsuit for use in their criminal investigation.”
Had Jackson not settled the civil case, he would have put his defense strategy in jeopardy by revealing his exculpatory evidence to the prosecution months before the criminal case went to trial.
Hughes was a legal secretary for Barry Rothman, the divorce lawyer who represented Jackson’s accuser’s father Evan Chandler. In her book Redemption: The Truth Behind the Michael Jackson Child Molestation Allegations, Hughes asserts that the allegations were part of an elaborate plan conceived by Chandler and Rothman to extort money from Jackson,19 an opinion that is substantiated by an audiotape of Chandler speaking to his son’s stepfather on the phone.
On the tape, which was recorded before the boy had made any allegations, Chandler can be heard saying, “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.”
He continues, “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 Michael’s career will be over.”
“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.”
In 1994, journalist Mary Fischer did a five-month investigation into the allegations and also concluded that Jackson was the victim of extortion. Her article Was Michael Jackson Framed appeared in GQ Magazine and explores the case from its inception. Citing a KCBS-TV newsman (Harvey Levin) as her source, Fischer reported that Jordan Chandler did not make any allegations against Michael Jackson until he took a trip to his father’s dental office where he was given a memory-altering drug. “In the presence of [Evan] Chandler and Mark Torbiner, a dental anesthesiologist, the boy was administered the controversial drug sodium amytal… and it was after this session that the boy first made his charges against Jackson.”20
In a lengthy rebuttal to Fischer’s article, the boy’s uncle Ray Chandler claimed that the sodium amytal allegation was false; he even went so far as to declare that the entire story was a “fairytale” concocted by somebody within the Jackson camp.21
Surprisingly enough, official documents that are currently for sale on Ray Chandler’s website corroborate Fischer’s report. A transcript from one of Jordan Chandler’s therapy sessions describes the circumstances under which the boy first told his father about the alleged abuse. Jordan Chandler’s account of what happened is exactly consistent with Fischer’s.
According to the boy: “[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 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.”22
Based on Jordan Chandler’s own recollection of events, he was indeed given a drug before he came forward with the abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. While the boy never specified the name of the drug, it is likely that it was in fact sodium amytal because every other detail from Fischer’s report turned out to be accurate.
If Jordan Chandler was given sodium amytal before he accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse, what implications does this have on the veracity of the boy’s allegations?
Although sodium amytal was originally believed to be a truth serum, subsequent experiments found statements made by those under its influence to be highly unreliable. “Investigations noted that the drug makes patients vulnerable to either accidental or deliberate suggestions from the interviewer,” explains August Piper Jr., an expert on false memory syndrome.23 According to Jordan Chandler, it was only after he had been drugged that his father began to probe him about his relationship with Jackson.
In his rebuttal to Fischer’s article, Ray Chandler expressed scepticism about the drug’s ability to convince the boy that he had been molested but psychiatrist Peggy Elam insists that sodium amytal can “increase the patient’s confidence in his or her memory – even when the memory may be false.”24
After the drug had been administered, Evan Chandler took his son to see a psychiatrist; while there, the boy came out with the explicit allegations against Michael Jackson, prompting a police investigation.
The prosecution, led by Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon and Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, was unable to find any credible corroborating evidence; once the boy refused to testify, the case fell apart. Fischer sums up the 1993 case by saying, “police and prosecutors spent millions of dollars to create a case whose foundation never existed.”25
Tom Sneddon clearly disagreed with Fischer’s assessment of his case. He repeatedly implied that there was indeed evidence to corroborate the boy’s story but failed to provide an explanation as to why two grand juries did not indict the pop star if such evidence actually existed.26 In 1995, he told Vanity Fair magazine: “The state of the investigation is in suspension until somebody comes forward.”27
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 Chandlers’ 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 John 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 Geragos’ 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 John 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, John Arvizo finally came forward with the sexual abuse allegations against the pop star; his younger brother Rob 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 John 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. John 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.”
Rob 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 John 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 Arvizos’ 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.
John 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 Geragos’ 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 John 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.
1“Ms. Doe testifies that she hired a lawyer before meeting Michael.” Online posting. 18 Sept. 2004. MJJForum. (http://www.mjjforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=37558)
2Team MJJSource. “Mesereau Calls Prosecution ‘Vindictive.'” MJJSource. 29 Dec. 2004.(http://mjjsource.com/main/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=304&Itemid=44)
6Deutsch, Linda. “Mother Coached Children to Lie in Court Before?” Associated Press. 25 Dec. 2003.
7 Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Report. Oct 2001. (http://celebrityjustice.warnerbros.com/documents/04/01/jacko_dept.pdf)
8 Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson’s Accuser’s Mom Made Similar Claims in 2001.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 12 Oct. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/101204accusersmom.htm)
9 Interview with Russell Halpern. Larry King Live. CNN. 13 Feb. 2004. (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0402/13/lkl.00.html)
10 “Jackson Accuser ‘Afraid’ of His Estranged Father?” Celebrity Justice. 17 Mar. 2004. TTC West Coast Inc. (http://celebrityjustice.warnerbros.com/news/0403/17a.html)
11“Take 2: The Interview They Wouldn’t Show You.” Fox. 20 Feb. 2003.
12 Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Report. Oct 2001. (http://celebrityjustice.warnerbros.com/documents/04/01/jacko_dept.pdf)
13“Jackson Accuser’s Mom Falsely Solicited Charity for Son.” Celebrity Justice. 3 Jan. 2005. TTC West Coast Inc. (http://celebrityjustice.warnerbros.com/news/0501/03a.html)
14 Heard, Bill. “Chance Encounters with Cops Lead to Merry Christmas for LA Family.” MTA Report. 21 Dec. 2001. (http://intranet2.mta.net/mtanews_info/report/transit_family.htm)
15Interview with Michael Jackson. Sixty Minutes. CBS. 28 Dec. 2003. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/28/60minutes/main590381.shtml)
16 “Living with Michael Jackson.” ITV. 3 Feb. 2003.
17Steepleton, Scott. “Explicit Story of Jackson ‘Old News’ to Sneddon.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 12 Feb. 2003.
18“Michael Jackson’s Big Payoff.” The Smoking Gun. 16 Jun 2004. Courtroom Television Network. (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0616041jacko1.html)
19Hughes, Geraldine. Redemption: The Truth Behind the Michael Jackson Child Molestation Allegations. Radford: Branch and Vine Publishers, LLC. 2004.
20 Fischer, Mary A. “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” GQ Magazine. Oct. 1994: Pg. 214.
22“Psychiatric Interview with Jackson’s First Accuser.” Michael Jackson Molestation Case. Court TV Online, pp. 30-31. 10 Jan. 2005. (http://www.courttv.com/news/jackson/docs/psychiatric.html?page=30)
24 Elam, Peggy. “Dissociative Disorders and Sodium Amytal Interview.” Ivillage Health. (http://www.ivillagehealth.com/experts/emotional/qas/0,,234280_1280-1,00.html)
25Fischer, Mary A. “Was Michael Jackson Framed?” GQ Magazine. Oct. 1994: Pg. 214.
26“Grand Jury Disbanded in Michael Jackson Case.” Showbiz Today. CNN. 2 May 1994.
27 “The DA in the Michael Jackson Case.” TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime. 19 Nov. 2003. CrimeLynx. (http://talkleft.com/new_archives/004397.html#004397)
29Steepleton, Scott. “Explicit Story of Jackson ‘Old News’ to Sneddon.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 12 Feb. 2003.
32Interview with Mark Geragos. Larry King Live. CNN. 18 Dec. 2003. (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0312/18/lkl.00.html)
33 Deutsch, Linda. “Prosecution Alleges Jackson Imprisoned Boy, Family at Neverland Ranch.” Associated Press. 28 Jul. 2004.
34 Deutsch, Linda. ” Stepfather Says He Sought Money for Michael Jackson Accuser, Family.” Associated Press. 20 Aug. 2004.
36Interview with Ed Bradley. Larry King Live. CNN. 4 Feb. 2004. (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0402/04/lkl.01.html)
37“Michael Jackson Bombshell.” The Smoking Gun. 9 Dec. 2003. Courtroom Television Network. (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/dcfsmemo1.html)
40“Michael is My Children’s Angel.” Sunday Telegraph. 8 Feb. 2003. (http://www.mjni.com/news/details.aspx?ArticleNo=195)
41 “Take 2: The Interview They Wouldn’t Show You.” Fox. 20 Feb. 2003.
42 “Former Lawyer for Jackson Accuser Speaks.” Primetime Live. ABC News. 29 Jan. 2004. (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132405&page=1)
43 Deutsch, Linda. ” Stepfather Says He Sought Money for Michael Jackson Accuser, Family.” Associated Press. 20 Aug. 2004.
45 Friedman, Roger. “Jacko Accuser’s Mom Was in Mental Hospital.” Fox 411. 5 Feb. 2004. Fox News. 20 Jul. 2004. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,110526,00.html)
46 “Former Lawyer for Jackson Accuser Speaks.” Primetime Live. ABC News. 29 Jan. 2004. (http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132405&page=1)
47 Order for Release of Redacted Documents. [Exhibits 2-18 from Pen. C. §1538.5 Hearings (Parts 1 and 2)] 12 Nov. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=602&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=601)
48“Civil Suit Brought up by Therapist.” The Today Show. 19 Mar. 2004. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?cid=17&lid=95)
49Blankstein, Andrew and Richard Winton. “Leak of Jackson Memo Criticized.” LA Times. 8 Jan. 2004.
50 Deutsch, Linda. “Lawyer: Psychologist’s patients on both sides of Jackson case.” Associated Press. 17 Aug. 2004.
51Deutsch, Linda. “Stepfather Says He Sought Money for Michael Jackson Accuser, Family.” Associated Press. 20 Aug. 2004.
52“Accuser’s Mother Police Videotape.” The Insider. 15 Sept. 2004. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?cid=24&lid=227)
53 “Civil Suit Brought up by Therapist.” The Today Show. 19 Mar. 2004. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?cid=17&lid=95)
54Deutsch, Linda and Tim Molloy. “Prosecutor Says Law Won’t Allow Jackson to Pay Off Accuser Before Trial.” Associated Press. 19 Nov. 2003.
55“Does Memo Suggest DA Vendetta Against Jackson?” Good Morning America. ABC News. 29 Apr. 2004. (http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=116524&page=1)
56Deutsch, Linda. “Prosecution Alleges Jackson Imprisoned Boy, Family at Neverland Ranch.” Associated Press. 28 Jul. 2004.
57Hobbs, Dawn. “Tape Called Evidence of Jackson Conspiracy.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 11 Aug. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0811tapeevidence.htm)
58 Press Conference. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon. 19 Nov. 2003.
59Bean, Matt. “Court TV Exclusive: D.A. discusses case against Michael Jackson.” Court TV. 20 Nov. 2003. (http://courttv.com/people/2003/1120/jackson_exclusive_ctv.html)
60“DA Apologizes for Joking at Jackson News Conference.” CNN. 5 Dec. 2003. (http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/11/26/sneddon/index.html)
61Hobbs, Dawn. “Sneddon Comes Out Swinging.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 19 Dec. 2003. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/1219sneddonswinging.htm)
63Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson Pleads Not Guilty.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 1 May 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0501pleadsnot.htm)
64Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson Pleads Not Guilty.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 1 May 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0501pleadsnot.htm)
65Deutsch, Linda. “Prosecution Alleges Jackson Imprisoned Boy, Family at Neverland Ranch.” Associated Press. 28 Jul. 2004.
66Molloy, Tim. “Accuser’s Mother Said to Praise Jackson.” Associated Press. 25 Nov. 2003.
67Hobbs, Dawn. “Timeline Emerges in Jackson Abuse Case.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 31 Jul. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0731timeline.htm)
69Hobbs, Dawn. “Timeline Emerges in Jackson Abuse Case.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 31 Jul. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0731timeline.htm)
70Hobbs, Dawn. “Timeline Emerges in Jackson Abuse Case.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 31 Jul. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0731timeline.htm)
71Deutsch, Linda. “Stepfather Says He Sought Money for Michael Jackson Accuser, Family.” Associated Press. 20 Aug. 2004.
72Notice of Motion and Motion to Set Aside the Indictment (Penal Code §995) 6 Jul. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=61&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=188)
73Reply to Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Set Aside the Indictment. (Pen. Code §995) 23 Jul. 2004. Page 12 (http://www.mjjforum.com/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=212&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=214)
74Hadly, Scott and Dawn Hobbs. “Jackson Team Goes on Offense.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 17 Aug. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0817jacksonteam.htm)
75Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson Case Judge Rules in Favor of DA.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 15 Oct. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/101504judgerules.htm)
76Notice of Motion and Motion to Set Aside the Indictment (Penal Code §995) 6 Jul. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=61&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=188)
Some of Documents included in this part:
Jackson Accuser ‘Afraid’ of His Estranged Father
March 17, 2004
He’s the dad waging a tearful court battle against his estranged wife to see his son, the 14 year-old boy accusing Michael Jackson of molesting him. Now comes a stunning letter from the boy, obtained exclusively by “Celebrity Justice” from court files.
The obtained documents include a declaration by the mother of Jackson’s young accuser, as well as written declarations from the boy himself and a sibling describing their fear of their father. “CJ” has also obtained letters from two Santa Barbara Sheriff’s investigators.
The boys’ handwritten letter says, “Due to the situation and events that have occurred in my life, I do not want to see my father right now.”
H. Russell Halpern, the father’s attorney, says his client is crushed. “He has once again gone into a state of depression,” Halpern tells us. “It’s been very, very difficult for him.”
The second letter, from the boy’s younger brother, is even more devastating. It says, “I do not want to see my father because he was never a father to me. My step dad was more of a father in two years then he was in my 13 years on earth.”
“Well, they’ve been without their father because of court orders for two years now,” Halpern notes. “We can only speculate what may have been said about the dad during this time.”
In court papers, the mother claims her boys are “afraid” of their father. The documents go on to say, “Every single night, one of my sons barricades the front door by putting two chairs in front of the door… He also puts a boogie board and an archery arrow against the front door… Both boys sleep with baseball bats.”
Additional letters from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and D.A.’s office both say it would not be in the “best interests of this child” to see his father.
And there is more bad news for the dad. Sources say a judge just warned him that he could be sent to jail by late April if he fails to complete the terms of his probation after pleading no contest to spousal and child abuse.
The obtained D.A. and Sheriff’s letters also say the boy appears to be very healthy, despite his prior battle with cancer. The City Attorney’s office would not comment except to say they take child abuse and domestic violence cases very seriously.
Part II: Tom Sneddon – A Strange Obsession
“Sneddon is a very determined individual who will go further than almost anyone to prove something which he feels needs proving.”
– Attorney Michael Cooney
|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 Cummings’ 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.
1“Prosecutor Profile.” National District Attorney’s Association. 2004.
2Hobbs, Dawn. “DA has locked Horns with Defense Lawyers in Past.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 2 Nov. 2004.
3Abramsam, Mark. “Dunlap Sues Over Arrest.” The Lompoc Record. 5 Dec. 2003.
4Brown, Patricia and Ron Sweet. Interview with Gary Dunlap. MJJForum Talk Radio. 2 Jan. 2004.
5Hobbs, Dawn. “Judge’s Lawyer Accuses DA of Unfair Retaliation.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 13 Jul. 2004.
6Cushner, Quintin. “D.A’s Office Recused from Case.” The Santa Maria Times. 31 Aug. 2004.
7Cushner, Quintin. “Sneddon rejects masseuse’s allegations.” The Santa Maria Times. 28 Dec. 2003.
8Cushner, Quintin. “City, D.A. office clash.” The Santa Maria Times. 3 Dec. 2003.
9Cushner, Quintin. “City attorney fires back at D.A.” The Santa Maria Times. 13 Feb. 2004.
10Cushner, Quintin. “Montandon Files Claim Against D.A.” The Santa Maria Times. 1 Jul. 2004.
11Cushner, Quintin. “State Bar Looks into Complaint Against D.A.” The Santa Maria Times. 17 Jul. 2004.
12Arceneaux, K.C. “New Allegations Against Prosecutor of Michael Jackson.” The Raw Story. 2004. Exclusives. 30 Apr. 2004. (http://www.rawstory.com/exclusives/contributors/sneddon_allegations_michael_jackson.htm).
13“Rajan Ayyar Sentencing Set for Thursday.” News and Articles on Gary Real Estate. Real Estate News. 2004. (http://news.surfwax.com/realestate/files/Real_Estate_Gary.html)
14Arceneaux, K.C. “New Allegations Against Prosecutor of Michael Jackson.” The Raw Story. 2004. Exclusives. 30 Apr. 2004. (http://www.rawstory.com/exclusives/contributors/sneddon_allegations_michael_jackson.htm).
15Bean, Matt. “Court TV Exclusive: D.A. discusses case against Michael Jackson.” Court TV. 20 Nov. 2003. (http://courttv.com/people/2003/1120/jackson_exclusive_ctv.html)
16“The DA in the Michael Jackson Case.” TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime. 19 Nov. 2003. CrimeLynx. (http://talkleft.com/new_archives/004397.html#004397)
18Hobbs, Dawn. “Pop star’s legal battles began year ago today.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 18 Nov. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/111804legalbattles.htm)
19Notice of Motion and Motion to Set Aside the Indictment (Penal Code §995) 6 Jul. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=61&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=188)
20 Hobbes, Dawn. “Pop Superstar Can’t Shake 1993 Allegations.” Santa Barbara News-press. 5 Apr. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0405cantshake.htm)
21Spilbor, Jonna M. “The Michael Jackson Case.” Find Law Commentary. Find Law. 4 May 2004. (http://writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20040504_spilbor.html)
22 Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson defense blasts attempt to use evidence from ’93.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 8 Jan. 2005. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/010805defenseblasts.html)
23 Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson team goes on offense.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 17 Aug. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0817jacksonteam.htm)
24 Hobbs, Dawn. “Authorities searched home of Jackson’s assistant.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 23 Sept. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/092304searched.html)
25 Hobbs, Dawn. “Authorities conduct raid on Neverland.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 4 Dec. 2004.(http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/120404raid.html)
26Plaintiff’s Request for Clarification Re: Court’s Protective Order. 2004 Jun. 25. (http://188.8.131.52/main/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=61&func=fileinfo&parent=folder&filecatid=194)
27Press Conference. Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon. 19 Nov. 2003.
28 Hobbs, Dawn. “Jackson team goes on offense.” Santa Barbara News-Press. 17 Aug. 2004. (http://www.newspress.com/mjacksonupdate/0817jacksonteam.htm)
28“Prosecutorial Misconduct Investigation.” MJJF Investigates. MJJForum. (http://www.mjjforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=44168)
Part III – Diane Dimond: Paragon of Deceit
|“During all the coverage of Michael Jackson’s supposed molestation of this teenage boy, I turned on ‘CBS This Morning’ and saw Diane Dimond being interviewed by Paula Zahn. And I remember thinking, ‘This is a seminal moment in the regression of TV journalism.'”1|
– Los Angeles times TV critic Howard Rosenberg
|DIANE PUTS HER FOOT IN HER MOUTH… AGAIN|
The moment Michael Jackson was arrested and charged with child molestation, Diane Dimond insisted that she did not go looking for this story but rather it came looking for her. Of course, she must have forgotten ever making such a statement when, during another interview, she asserted, “I’ve been working this story for 10 years.”2 We would, however, prefer to call her work “jury tainting” in light of several absolutely unprofessional and unethical activities that have caused observers to question her “journalistic” inclinations and sensibilities.
Dimond, like her good buddy Tom Sneddon has often decried any assertion that she has a vendetta against Jackson or that she is obsessed with the child molestation allegations. In her own words, she is just a determined investigative journalist who is determined to get to the bottom of a huge story. To her credit, Dimond did offer some sound advice concerning how to evaluate a story: “You have to listen carefully to the reporters. If they’re giving their opinion, that’s not necessarily the truth. You have to, as a listener or viewer, think logically for yourself. What is true and what is false?”3 Following these wise words, we invite readers to assess the veracity of several stories Ms. Dimond has reported.
For instance, Dimond stated confidently, “I am 99.9% sure that Jordan Chandler will testify during the grand jury.”4 The only problem was that it never happened. Dimond did her best to make it appear as if the prosecution had scored a windfall. Of course, one has to ask logically: If Jordan Chandler was so eager to testify as Dimond was reporting, why did the prosecution (or sources close to them) whine about not being able to serve him a subpoena? If Chandler was eager to see justice done for the alleged injustice done to him, one would logically assume that no writ or court order would have even been necessary to get him to the stand. Score one for logic and against Dimond’s “objective” and truth-centered reporting.
Dimond was also one of the first to report the erroneous story that the prosecution had seized love letters allegedly written by Jackson to the latest accuser. On a November 24, 2003 edition of Larry King Live,5Dimond, along with famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, Chris Pixley and Court TV’s Nancy Grace, did not hesitate much when discussing them:
|KING: Do we — hold it! Does anyone here — does anyone here — anyone — know of the existence of these letters?|
DIMOND: I absolutely know of their existence!
KING: Diane, have you read them?
DIMOND: No, I have not read them, but I absolutely know that that was tops on the list of the DA and sheriff’s department, things to look for inside Neverland. Listen, Larry, these are letters that are written in Michael Jackson’s hand. They are said to be — no, I’ve not read them, but they — they went after them because they’re said to be so sensational and so salacious in nature that this could be a key to the prosecution.
|When pressed about her certainty of the letters Dimond got very defensive. Consider this entertaining exchange between her and Pixley :|
|PIXLEY: I think it’s inevitable that they’re going to report the story in one way, though, Larry, and that’s to say that Michael Jackson is guilty of these charges…|
DIMOND: Oh, BS!
PIXLEY: … before there are even charges. I’m sorry, Diane…
PIXLEY:… have you entertained for a moment the idea that these love letters that you know nothing about may be just that, nothing?
DIMOND: First of all, Chris, I do know about them, and I know about them from high law enforcement sources. But I have always said, I don’t know if Michael Jackson is a pedophile. This charge should go to court.
PIXLEY: You said they play it close to the chest, you think this is a good DA’s office that doesn’t leak stories, that play it close to the chest. But you know from high-ranking officials exactly what these letters say, or at least…
DIMOND: I didn’t say I know what they say!
PIXLEY: … what they are likely to say…
DIMOND: If you’re going to…
PIXLEY:… that they’re salacious.
DIMOND: And you know what, Chris? Get it right! I get it right when I quote somebody! You get it right when you quote me!
PIXLEY:Who are you quoting about the letters, then, Diane, so we can get it right? Who is it that you’re quoting?
DIMOND: I’m not going to…
PIXLEY: You don’t have anyone to quote.
DIMOND: … give you my sources! I’m not giving you my sources!
PIXLEY:Then why are we talking about this as though it’s a fact?
|Of course, Dimond did not “get it right” at all concerning this story and her merely quoting a source did not make the story right either. As Pixley hinted, the story was as phony as a three dollar bill,6 adding fuel to the notion that Dimond has little intention of reporting the truth but rather reporting what she knows to be false and potentially damaging to Jackson and his defense team. We will not even bother to speculate as to who her “source” was (the person’s identity should be quite obvious). It suffices to say that this person appears to have had little intention of disseminating truth and used whatever willing vessel he (or she) could find. Dimond fit the bill. Yet we are supposed to trust this king of reporting to provide “unbiased” information concerning the case.|
DIANE PLAYS THE BLAME GAME
Perhaps the most egregious transgression Dimond committed revolved around the now-not-so-confidential settlement Jackson reached with his 1993 accuser’s family. Note the following excerpts from her “reports” on the matter:
|‘The Abrams Report’ for June 15|
“Right here on the top of page 14, the amount of the trust fund Jackson agrees to set up is not redacted — $15,331,250. His mom and dad both got $1.5 million each upon signing the settlement, and sources say that Michael Jackson also agreed to pay the family‘s attorney, Larry Feldman, at least $5 million plus expenses.
This is the civil suit that the boy‘s family filed way back in 1993. Check out the complaints here. They charge sexual battery, battery, seduction, willful misconduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud and negligence. In the end, in the final settlement agreement, Jackson agrees to pay only for alleged negligence. But look at what was alleged in the original lawsuit. It‘s on page 44 and 45.
‘Defendant, Michael Jackson, negligently had offensive contacts with plaintiff, which were both explicitly sexual and otherwise. As a direct result of the negligence, the plaintiff has suffered injury to his health, strength, and activity, injury to his body and shock and injury to his nervous system.’ We do need to point out, though, that in the final settlement, Michael Jackson specifically says that this agreement shall not be construed, this is a quote, shall not be construed as an admission by Jackson that he has acted wrongfully with respect to the minor.“7
June 16, 2004 (Court TV)
Diane Dimond: In that settlement, there was no definition of negligence, just that Jackson agreed to the allegation of negligence from the civil suit. If you’ll look at the civil suit posted on our website, and that is case # SC026226, and look at page 15, paragraphs 44-45, that’s the allegation Michael Jackson agreed to pay for. As you can see, it mentions that “Jackson negligently had offensive contacts with plaintiff which were both explicitly sexual and otherwise.” My reaction to this is: I can’t figure out how someone can be negligently explicitly sexual with a child and still deny sexual molestation occurred.8
|Dimond leaked information about the confidential (that means confidential, folks) 1994 settlement agreement between Jackson and the Chandlers. Please note the highlighted portions. One day she is at least halfway clear that she is discussing two separate documents: Evan Chandler’s lawsuit that accuses Jackson of horrific deeds with his son; and another document where Jackson settles with the Chandler family over claims of “negligence.” The next day, Dimond goes out of her way to somehow tie negligence to sexual abuse, something that the settlement does not support. In fact, it is clear from the wording of the settlement document that the negligence claim had nothing to do with sexual abuse. According to the document: “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.” 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.|
While she was intent on pointing out that Jackson’s settlement was not meant to be construed as an admission of guilt, she conveniently forgot to acknowledge the fact that the Chandler family agreed to all of the terms that Jackson’s lawyers outlined – namely, that Jackson did not molest the boy.9 Dimond combined information from a lawsuit Evan Chandler filed against Jackson, a suit wracked with defamatory accusations of Jackson being a sexual predator, with Jackson’s actual settlement. To make matters even more ridiculous, she blamed Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley for being responsible for the leaking of the documents.10
LET’S TRY TO UNDERSTAND DIANE…
There is, perhaps, a psychological reason for Dimond’s treatment of Jackson. Cognitive dissonance refers to the “psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation.”11 Such a description could easily call to mind the Court TV investigative correspondent, who clearly has turned covering Michael Jackson into a one-woman industry.
Cognitive dissonance rears its head in Dimond’s psyche in her own inability to recognize her assumptions about Jackson. For instance, she comments that “I’ve learned a lot that I’ve put on the air and learned a lot that I could never put on the air because I couldn’t substantiate it,” she said. “But I’m going to keep my opinion to myself.” The funny thing is, Ms. Dimond would go on to state just a few lines later in the same interview: “Look at him. Look at what he’s done to himself. He must be so full of self-loathing to carve off the tip of his nose and plant things in his cheeks. My overwhelming feeling for him is pity.”12 One could almost believe that Dimond indeed feels sorry for Jackson if not for her unceasingly biased negative reporting on him. In addition, if one looks closely at her statement, she contends that Jackson has had things done to his face (i.e. cheek implants) that he has repeatedly denied having done. Even worse, her slanted comments about Jackson on the air and in print (too numerous to list here) are proof positive that she feels anything but sorry for him but loathes him as much as she claims he loathes himself.
Dimond drowns in a Jeffersonian-like cognitive dissonance that blinds her to her own queasy obsession with a figure she claims she is not obsessed with. Of course, much of the media has the same problem, for in one breath they proclaim the “death” of everything Jackson while simultaneously dropping his name everywhere in order to garner attention and ratings. Dimond’s slapdash and downright unethical coverage of both Jackson and the child molestation allegations against him, not surprisingly, stay true to form.
Lately, the tabloid reporter has been mysteriously silent. Perhaps her silence is connected to speculation that her close ties to the prosecution have in fact made her a potential witness in the case should it go to trial. In addition, the very fact that Dimond was dropping hints in June 2003 that Jackson would soon go “splat” is all the more amazing considering that this is the exact same month that Sneddon jumpstarted his “investigation” into the allegations. Her obsession with inserting herself into this poorly scripted flim-flam job may find her on the hot seat before a jury and the glare of her own network’s (Court TV) cameras.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon appears to have the same problem. Professional help will be provided once the cases against Mr. Jackson are dealt with and debunked. One has the feeling that neither Sneddon nor Dimond will be psychologically prepared for Jackson’s innocence or for the ramifications of perpetuating what they may have known was a blatant lie in the first place.
1Schone, Mark. “Tabloid TV.” Salon.Com Archived Articles. Apr. 9, 1997. (http://www.salon.com/april97/tabloidtv2970409.html)
2Wallenstein, Andrew. “Court TV Coup: Diane Dimond Lands Another Scoop.” The Hollywood Reporter. 20 Nov. 2003. (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/television/brief_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2032800)
3Court TV Online – Michael Jackson Accused. Transcripts. 15 Jan. 2004. (http://www.courttv.com/talk/chat_transcripts/2004/0115jackson-dimond.html)
4“The Big Story Weekend with Rita Cosby.” 27 Mar. 2004. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=545)
5“Analysis of Michael Jackson Arrest.” Larry King Live. CNN. 24 Nov. 2003.
6“‘Love Letters’ Story from London Tabloid?” MJEOL Bullets. MJEOL. 24 Nov. 2003. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=319)
8Court TV Online – Michael Jackson Accused. Transcripts. 16 Jun. 2004. (http://www.courttv.com/talk/chat_transcripts/2004/0616jackson-dimond.html)
9“Michael Jackson’s Big Payoff.” The Smoking Gun. 16 Jun. 2004. Courtroom Television Network. 21 Jun. 2004. (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0616041jacko1.html)
10“Catherine Crier Live.” Court TV. 17 Jul. 2004. (http://site.mjeol.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=729)
11 Atherton, J.S. “Learning and Teaching: Cognitive Dissonance.” 2003. (http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jamesa/learning/dissonance.htm)
12Bauder, David. “Diane Dimond’s reporting has put Court TV at forefront of Jackson story.” The Standard Times. 5 Jan. 2004: Pg. B1
Part IV – 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:|
Ask 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 Thomas’ 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. Hughes’ 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!
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.
1“Tried by the Media.” Spin of the Day. PR Watch Forums. 26 Dec. 2003. (http://www.prwatch.org/forum/showthread.php?p=6983&mode=linear)
2“Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office – Michael Jackson Case.” Case Histories. Tellem Worldwide. 2004. (http://www.tellem.com/case_histories_santa_barbara_da.html)
4White, Karen. “Man files suit against 8 officers.” The Santa Maria Times. 5 Mar. 2002.
5South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), October 31, 1998.
6Diana Kennedy et al, “Can He Beat It?” Entertainment Weekly. 16 Jun. 1995.
7Hughes, Geraldine. “Redemption vs. All that Glitters.” Online Posting. MJJForum. 13 Sept. 2004. (http://www.mjjforum.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=36789)
8Chandler, Ray. All That Glitters. Las Vegas: Windsong Press LTD, 2004, 51.
9Friedman, Roger. “MJ First Accuser: Parents Thought he was Gay.” Fox 411. Fox News.(http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,131860,00.html)
10Book Review – Victor Gutierrez
11MICHAEL JACKSON, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION et al., Defendants and Respondents.
12Ryan, Joal. “Michael Jackson’s Victory.” Latest News. E! Online News. (http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,2828,00.html)
13Maldonado, Margaret. Jackson Family Values. 1998. California: Dove Books.
14Robb, David. “$2.7 million to Jackson for free-lancer’s sex-tape lie.” The Hollywood Reporter. 13 Apr. 1998.
15“Jackson arriesga más que la cárcel: Podría perder hasta a sus tres hijos.” La Cuarta. 24 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/24/24.23.4a.ESP.JACKSON.html)
16“Víctor Gutiérrez prepara revancha: ‘El rancho de Jackson será mío…'” La Cuarta. 22 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/22/22.17.4a.ESP.GUTIERREZ.html)
18“Jackson arriesga más que la cárcel: Podría perder hasta a sus tres hijos.” La Cuarta. 24 Nov. 2003. (http://www.lacuarta.cl/diario/2003/11/24/24.23.4a.ESP.JACKSON.html)
19“Víctor Gutiérrez firmó millonario contrato.” El Diario Austral de Valdivia. 4 Jan. 2004. (http://www.australvaldivia.cl/site/edic/20040104042125/pags/20040104053827.html)
|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:
Click on the image to view how the following people are connected to one another.
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 Veritas Project
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 Chandlers’ 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, John Arvizo accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse; the boy was then sent to see Dr. Katz (9). Note that less than four months earlier John 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 John 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, John 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?