Author’s note: Please be advised that some parts of this article contain graphic descriptions of alleged sexual abuse of minors, where it is necessary to address those claims.
I’m a perfectionist. I’m never totally satisfied. I always wish the world could be a better place. Hopefully, that’s what I do with my music—bring happiness to people, bring some joy and peace into their lives. —Michael Jackson
The story of Michael Jackson’s child abuse trial in 2005 is one of the most complex and controversial in recent memory, from both legal and ethical perspectives. In preparing to write this article, I read the court transcripts—which total nearly eight thousand pages—in their entirety. I watched all of the major films and documentaries about Jackson (so far as I know), including Living with Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror, and Leaving Neverland. I spent hundreds of hours scouring the internet and public archives, listening carefully to what both Jackson’s supporters and accusers have had to say.
Jackson was publicly accused of child abuse twice while he was still alive. In 1993, the Chandler family hired criminal attorneys and considered pursuing a criminal case against him but quickly dropped it and filed a civil case that was settled out of court. In 2003, the Arvizo family filed a criminal complaint, and the subsequent case went to trial in 2005. Jackson was fully acquitted, but four years after his death in 2009, James Safechuck and Wade Robson publicly accused him of molesting them in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Both filed civil suits against Jackson’s estate, and both suits were thrown out. In this article, we’ll examine these incidents in chronological order.
Michael Jackson was an incredible entertainer. He set and broke dozens of records during his career, produced the best-selling album of all time (Thriller, 1982—at least 100 million copies sold worldwide to date), set thirty-nine Guinness World Records, and won forty Billboard Awards, thirteen Grammys, and twenty-six American Music Awards. Even after his death, his achievements continue to rack up. He has the highest posthumous earnings of any celebrity: As of 2018, he had earned $2.1 billion since his death.1
Few people—even those who don’t like his music—would dispute that Jackson was a brilliant entertainer. But although most people know how passionate and skilled he was, his achievements have been overshadowed in recent decades by allegations that he sexually abused numerous young boys between 1988 and 2003. These allegations have become so commonplace and pervasive that many people speak of Jackson as if he were obviously guilty. As Jackson said at the outset of his trial, “Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons. The truth will win this marathon in court.” It ultimately did, but public opinion often fails to keep pace with the facts.
On March 3, 2019, the allegations against Jackson once again became a hot topic when director Dan Reed released a four-hour “documentary” titled Leaving Neverland. “Documentary” is in scare quotes because little about Leaving Neverland is factual, and Reed knows it.2 The film presents no new evidence or witnesses but relies entirely on testimony from only two alleged victims, both of whom have changed their stories many times over the years—a fact Reed declines to mention.
Jackson, of course, did himself no favors. He was eccentric, eclectic, and, at times, just plain weird. He often behaved unwisely, but lacking wisdom is not a criminal offense, and there is almost no evidence to suggest—much less prove—that he ever harmed a child. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence showing that many people had motives to knowingly make false claims to the contrary.
Michael Jackson received justice, but only in the legal sense, when he was acquitted in 2005. For all intents and purposes, his career and personal life both were over after that. He suffered tremendous emotional trauma as a result of the trial and the years of sensationalized, irrationally biased, and sometimes flagrantly dishonest media coverage.3 He fell deeply into debt, developed a serious drug problem, and struggled to compose music for the rest of his life. The legal system had exonerated him, but the public had not—and still hasn’t, by and large.
Jackson’s memory and his living relatives deserve justice in the fullest sense. Other publications and media outlets sometimes have told his story accurately, but not loudly, frequently, or rigorously enough to drown out the lies. This article is an effort to tell the truth about a great—and greatly misunderstood—man.
The Early Years (1958–1967)
Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, in 1958, the seventh child of Joe and Katherine Jackson. They raised nine children on a single income, in a small two-bedroom house. For much of Jackson’s childhood, he had to share a bed with one or more of his brothers. His father drank heavily and often beat the boys—Michael in particular. “[I was small and quick.] Half the time he couldn’t catch me,” Jackson recalled, “but when he did . . . oh, my God, it was bad.”4
From the age of four, Jackson idolized and studied such legendary dancers as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The family owned a television, but it frequently broke, and at their mother’s encouragement, the boys sometimes entertained themselves by singing together. Four of the brothers—Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon—showed above-average talent when it came to singing and dancing, but Michael stood out, with a vocal range and control that were nothing short of incredible for such a young boy. His natural affinity for dancing was equally striking.5
When Michael was five, he and his brothers began to practice regularly, performing covers of well-known songs and dance routines. They were good enough that Joe took it upon himself to manage the family band. He drilled the boys relentlessly, insisting that they start over at the slightest mistake and often punishing missteps with beatings. The local high school held informal talent shows every Friday night, and the Jackson Five, as they would come to be known, began taking home more and more first-place trophies.6
Word of the boys’ incredible talent got around, and before long, they were landing gigs on the “chitlin circuit” (a network of blacks-only venues that offered minimal pay and publicity) in Chicago, thirty miles away. By the age of six, Michael was “a prodigy—a precocious little boy with the artistry of an adult.”7 Yet he lived in constantly fluctuating states of dread and elation, motivated in equal parts by his love of music and fear of his father’s belt.
Much later in life, Jackson would lament that, even though he loved the music, he never got to just be a kid. He slept in hotel rooms more often than in his own bed and rarely had time to do anything but practice or perform. His sense of loss over his missed childhood would come to motivate much of what he did throughout his adult life—namely, his efforts to befriend and help children.
Rise to Stardom: The Boy Who Refused to Grow Up (1968–1979)
As his skills continued to grow, it became apparent—especially to Joe—that, although the other four members of the family band were skilled, Michael stood head and shoulders above them. They signed with Steeltown Records and recorded their first single, “Big Boy” in 1968, when Michael was ten. The following year, they signed a more significant record deal with Motown Records; and, in 1970, their original song “I Want You Back” reached number one on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart. The Jacksons were among the first black artists to top the historically “white” music charts, and they were instrumental in helping to dismantle racial barriers in the music industry.8
By the time he was seventeen, Jackson already had released four solo albums (Got to Be There and Ben in 1972, Music & Me in 1973, and Forever, Michael in 1975), although he continued to perform with the family band, which satisfied Joe for the time being. But as Michael approached his eighteenth birthday, he began to realize that there were creative projects he could not undertake as long as he was chained to the family band. After renaming themselves the Jacksons in 1975, showcasing Michael’s talents became the band’s primary purpose.
Joe sensed the new threat immediately. He forbade Michael from striking out on his own, and at first the son obeyed. But in 1978, Jackson defied his father and accepted the role of the Scarecrow in the film The Wiz, a musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Despite the film’s generally poor reception, many to this day regard Jackson’s energetic performance as its one bright spot. He continued to write songs for the family band until 1984 but performed with them less and less, despite Joe’s increasingly aggressive demands.
While filming The Wiz, Jackson met Quincy Jones, the legendary composer and record producer who scored the film and who would go on to become one of the most influential musicians in American history. Jones was impressed by Jackson’s skills. Jones produced Jackson’s fifth solo album, Off the Wall (1979) and introduced him to high-level executives at Epic Records, thus helping Jackson establish connections that he could leverage to leave behind his father and the family band once and for all.
Although Jackson generally was beloved at Epic, as he grew older, his childlike demeanor and behavior started to seem more and more out of place. Susan Blond, an executive at the company, said fondly of Jackson in 2017: “Here he was [at age 18] having hits already, and having this genius brain, but as a person, he was [still] like a child. He would take my pocketbook, turn it upside-down, and everything would fall out. . . . You’d expect a four-year-old to do that.”9 Others, too, noticed that Jackson had a disconcerting, but charming, innocence. Motown Records executive vice president Rob Cohen remembered going to Jackson’s apartment and finding that he had
crates and crates and crates of Perrier all over [his] apartment. I said, “Michael . . . are you really thirsty?” He goes, “Oh no. . . . I don’t drink it, I bathe in it.” And I said, “You bathe in Perrier?” And he said “Yeah, I like the bubbles.” . . . I often wondered if he named his [pet] chimp Bubbles because of that.10
Throughout his later life, and still today, the media often portrayed Jackson as a shadowy predator who tried to position himself as a mentor to children in order to lure them into his bedroom. But watching Jackson on video suggests only that he wanted to actually be a child. Footage of Jackson having water balloon fights at Neverland Ranch with Macaulay Culkin and hordes of other children makes it clear that he loved to play and was a good sport about having eggs smashed on his head. Many people claim that such footage of Jackson playing with, hugging, and touching children shows sinister intent on his part, but that is simply untrue—in many contexts, such contact between adults and children is perfectly innocent.11
The King of Pop (1980–1988)
By the time Thriller was released in 1982, Jackson was well on his way to international megastardom. He’d already earned enough money by the age of twenty-four to live luxuriously for the rest of his life, but creatively, he was just getting started.
In 1983, Motown Records executive Berry Gordy—who had signed the Jackson Five’s second record deal in 1969—approached Jackson and practically begged him to appear on stage with his brothers at Motown Records’ twenty-fifth anniversary event, which was to be broadcast live to millions of viewers. Jackson agreed on the condition that he also be allowed to do a solo performance. It was at that show that Jackson debuted his now-legendary moonwalk during a performance of “Billie Jean,” further cementing his place in the music industry as an innovator and tremendously successful crowd-pleaser.12
It proved the final nail in the family band’s showbiz coffin. Breaking up the band had not been Jackson’s goal—he simply wanted to be his own man with his own career—but after the Motown event, Joe’s control over his son was broken. Artistic freedom would bring Jackson enormous rewards, but he would bear the emotional scars of his father’s abuse for the rest of his life.
In 1987, Jackson purchased twenty-seven hundred acres of picturesque land on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest in California; this would become the world-famous Neverland Ranch. His first order of business was to build a ranch, theme park, and playground the likes of which the world had never seen before. Within five years, the property had a Ferris wheel, a carousel, bumper cars, an arcade, a petting zoo, and many other kid-friendly attractions. Thousands of children and their families would be invited to visit the ranch until Jackson abandoned it after his trial in 2005, stating that he would never return because it no longer felt like a home to him.13
Did Jackson set himself up to be accused of child molestation by spending so much of his time around other people’s kids? Yes and no. He had to have (or at least should have) expected that some people would assume the worst. Perhaps it was unwise to step so willingly into the crosshairs of a ratings-hungry media and the (rarely objective) court of public opinion.
But, on the other hand, if we take Jackson at his word regarding his motives—and we have very good reasons to do so, as we’ll see later—then it’s a sad statement about the culture we live in if a majority of people are incapable of believing that a grown man might simply like to visit petting zoos and ride carnival rides with children. Jackson may have stepped into the crosshairs, but those who made unsubstantiated and often provably false claims about him pulled the trigger.
The essential questions are: Did Michael Jackson in fact abuse children? How can we know one way or the other? What is the standard by which we should evaluate claims that, if upheld as true in a court of law, have the power to figuratively (and sometimes literally) end a person’s life? Attempting to answer such questions is a serious responsibility—one of the most serious that men can undertake. The utmost care must be taken to ensure that we are asking ourselves one question about every piece of information we find before us when human lives are hanging in the balance: Is this true, and how do we know it?
Alleged Abuse of James Safechuck (1988–1992)
Jackson met the Safechuck family when he and James (then eight or nine years old) were both cast in a Pepsi commercial in late 1986 or early 1987. The exact origin of their ongoing relationship remains unclear, but it seems that Safechuck wrote to Jackson sometime after the filming of the commercial concluded, because on March 10, 1987, Jackson wrote a letter to him that begins “Dear Jimmy, thank you for your letter.”14
In any case, neither James Safechuck nor any member of his family levied accusations of abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior against Jackson until 2014, twenty-six years after the alleged abuse began. Such long reporting delays are common in abuse cases, but Safechuck’s claims include many, many inconsistencies—even some outright impossibilities.
One of his most damning claims concerns repeated instances of abuse that allegedly took place in the train station on Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos, California. In a lawsuit Safechuck filed against Jackson’s estate after the singer’s death, he alleged that Jackson molested him “every day” for years, all over the ranch—a claim he repeats in Leaving Neverland. This abuse, he asserts, frequently occurred in a small room above the train station, a room he describes in great detail in the documentary. Safechuck further claims that Jackson “lost interest” in him by 1992—when he was fourteen years old and looked more like a young man than a child—and that the abuse stopped then.
Safechuck’s claim has just one problem: The train station in question was not built until 1994, as proven by building permits, photographs, and video of the construction that are readily accessible online.15 When this inconsistency was pointed out, Dan Reed, director of Leaving Neverland, replied by claiming that Jackson abused Safechuck at least until 1994—in other words, the alleged molestation still could have occurred after the building was completed—but this contradicts Safechuck’s recorded statements and sworn affidavits. And in Leaving Neverland itself, Safechuck’s description of the train station abuse appears between slides reading “November 1987” and “January 1990,” despite the fact that the station did not exist at that time.
On April 22, 2019, Reed again sought to bolster the train station story by tweeting: “The train station . . . was already complete before the 1993 construction permit was approved, says #MichaelJackson personal photographer [Harrison Funk] in an engagingly candid Jan 2019 podcast.”16
But Funk publicly denied the claim in a reply posted to Twitter: “The photo shoot that I was referring to [in the interview] happened in June, 1994, definitely NOT BEFORE. I refuse to engage with the people attempting to twist my words to fit their agenda.” Nor are Funk’s photographs the only ones that prove the train station’s age; dozens of others run in dozens of other newspapers show that the site of the train station was empty until September 1993, and that construction wasn’t finished until sometime after February 1994. Reed since has declined to respond to questions about this fact.17
Safechuck also has been quite clear that he was not molested after the Chandlers publicly accused Jackson of abusing their son, Jordan, which occurred in 1993. Two of the only points on which Safechuck has been consistent—that Jackson never abused him past the age of fourteen and that Jackson “constantly” abused him in the train station—are self-contradictory, because the train station didn’t exist until Safechuck was sixteen.18
Safechuck’s account is implausible in other important ways as well. He claims that Jackson was “extremely careful” to avoid being caught and made Safechuck constantly rehearse behaviors such as quickly putting on his clothes and hiding. Yet he also claims that he was molested in broad daylight in outdoor areas of the ranch—places completely covered by cameras and monitored in real time by the ranch’s security staff, none of whom ever reported witnessing abuse at any time.
In addition, the room above the train station is wide-open and easily accessible, frequently visited by Neverland employees and guests—not the sort of place that an abuser “extremely careful” to avoid detection would choose. If Jackson had needed privacy, roughly seventeen thousand square feet of interior space at the ranch were at his disposal.
(It’s also interesting to note that the Safechuck family business, Sea/Sue Inc., was sued for $800,000 for breach of contract on April 26, 2013—mere months before Safechuck “realized” that he had been abused by Jackson and decided to file a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against his estate.)19
Macaulay Culkin, the famous child actor, spent a great deal of time with Jackson from 1990 onward, and they remained close friends until Jackson’s death. Culkin testified in Jackson’s defense at his criminal trial, and the jury found him “very credible.” In an Entertainment Television interview on January 15, 2019—just weeks before Leaving Neverland was released—Culkin (now thirty-nine) repeated once again his unwavering claim that he was never abused or treated inappropriately by Jackson.20 In contrast, the court transcripts show, as journalist Charles Thomson put it, “an endless parade of seedy prosecution witnesses perjuring themselves on an almost hourly basis and crumbling under cross examination.”21
In interviews, Culkin also routinely points out that, at least in his and Jackson’s particular context, their friendship was, to some extent, understandable. Jackson, like Culkin, was a childhood mega-star. None of Culkin’s similarly-aged friends could understand the impact his Hollywood career had on his life—but Jackson understood very well. One cohost of the aforementioned Entertainment Television interview said, “Listen, a 32-year-old called up a 10-year-old and said ‘Wanna come over for a sleepover?’ And I’m not saying anything happened, other than: it’s weird.”
That commentator is right: it is weird for an adult to befriend a preteen and to invite him over to spend the night. Generally speaking, children should befriend other children and adults should befriend other adults, notwithstanding exceptions such as legitimate mentor/mentee relationships. But recall that Jackson was beaten, bullied, mocked, and severely traumatized by his father and felt robbed of his own childhood. He spent much of his adult life trying to reclaim lost time, to be a young boy—a goal that is impossible, of course, but understandable in light of the psychological trauma he suffered. Jackson’s desire never to grow up was so intense that he idolized the character Peter Pan and even filmed a music video about him.22
Safechuck claimed in his lawsuit and in Leaving Neverland that Jackson’s bedroom generally was off-limits and that much of the alleged abuse took place there. He also claimed that other children frequently were invited to be alone with Jackson for long periods, and that adults were strictly forbidden from supervising their own children.
But Kit Culkin, Macaulay’s father, refutes both claims in his book, Lost Boy. “Michael’s bedroom,” he writes, “was almost always an open place to hang out in, as was most . . . of the rest of the house. My children would sit on the bed, as would I, to play cards or checkers, or watch television . . . but then we would do so most everywhere else also.” Culkin recalls frequently “having to round [his children] up [at the end of the day] and often carry them (sometimes by golf cart) to their accommodations,” because they played so hard that they regularly would fall asleep in the midst of it.23 Yet he observed no improper acts:
I never saw or heard anything at all . . . to suggest that [Michael] was a pedophile. I would note that a busload or two of kids might arrive at the estate of an afternoon and be taken straight to the amusement park or the movie theater, and then just as swiftly be bused back off the grounds. In fact . . . there was an entire office in an adjacent building and an entire staff that was responsible for overseeing these visits; and I noted also that on no occasion at all did any of these children ever get asked to the house for any reason whatsoever. These were all strictly well-planned and well-supervised excursions, and the people who made them up were not the same people (such as those of my own family) who were actual guests. And while we’re on the subject of guests, this list was hardly confined to children. Indeed, adults roamed most everywhere, many of them from the world of government, including former President and neighbor Ronald Reagan, together with “Just-Say-No” Nancy, as well as Secretary of Defense William Cohen and not a few others that I’ve since forgotten; none of whom certainly gave one the feeling that the estate was (goodness knows) a den of pedophilia.24
In short, no evidence whatsoever has been presented to substantiate Safechuck’s claims—some of which have been demonstrated to be impossible.
Alleged Abuse of Wade Robson (1989–1996)
Joy Robson, originally from Brisbane, Australia, entered her then-five-year-old son, Wade, in a dance contest in 1987. The grand prize—which Wade won—was to meet Michael Jackson. Over the following nine years, Jackson periodically coached Robson on his dancing, spent time with him and his family, and invited them on international trips. Robson even appeared onstage with Jackson during concerts—arguably the best foot in the door of the entertainment industry that any aspiring performer could hope for.
On May 1, 2013, Robson—then thirty-one—filed a lawsuit against Jackson’s estate and two of his companies, demanding compensation for alleged abuse. This was the first time that Robson had publicly accused Jackson of abusing him. In fact, he had taken the stand in Jackson’s defense at the 2005 trial. During police and media interviews, he consistently and adamantly denied being abused by Jackson and did so again during the 1993–1994 Chandler investigation and before a grand jury later in 1994.25 But in Leaving Neverland, Robson changed his story. In that film he claimed that Jackson molested him “every time we were together. . . . There was no night that went by that I was with him that he didn’t sexually abuse me.”26
Robson’s newfound claims of constant abuse are far from plausible, however. First, although he and his mother visited Neverland many times between 1991 and 2005, Jackson was only home on four of those occasions, and only once during the seven-year period in which Robson claims he was abused.27 The routine violations Robson describes would be hard to square with Jackson’s absences, even taking into account the relatively infrequent occasions when the two of them were alone together outside the ranch.28
What’s more, the particular ways in which Robson claims to have been abused by Jackson are so gruesome that it’s unlikely that no other adult in Robson’s life would have noticed something amiss. For instance, Robson claims that Jackson anally raped him and ordered him to dispose of his bloody underwear afterward. No such underwear has ever been found, and nobody seems to have noticed any signs of such horrific abuse at the time—not even Robson’s doctor. Nor have any of the other alleged victims ever claimed to have suffered abuse on a similarly brutal scale.29
Robson has never claimed that anyone else knew about his abuse but failed to report it—he says that nobody knew about it at all. Yet this is inconsistent with the fact that some of Jackson’s former employees have claimed that they witnessed various kinds of abuse.30 In 1993, one such employee claimed to have seen Jackson showering with and kissing Robson (then ten or eleven years old) and said that she was certain that Robson knew she had witnessed it because he made direct eye contact with her at the time. All of those employees sold their stories to tabloids for four- or five-figure sums (but didn’t say anything to the police), changed their stories multiple times, and were thoroughly discredited during the 1994 grand jury hearings and during the 2005 trial.31
Robson’s first documented claim of abuse was on May 8, 2012. He claimed that he always had had a sexual relationship with Jackson, and that he did not have “repressed memories,” only that he was unaware—until he was nearly thirty years old—that a sexual relationship between an adult and a child constituted abuse. In itself, that is hard to believe, but Robson’s words and actions throughout his life refute that claim as well.
There are pre-2012 video and audio recordings of Robson stating in no uncertain terms that he knows that child abuse is wrong; and in some instances, he refers to sexual contact between adults and children using terms such as “abuse” and “wrong” interchangeably. He also gave testimony during the 2005 trial that quite clearly indicates that he knew at that time that sexual contact between an adult and a child constitutes abuse and is wrong.32
When the Arvizo allegations surfaced in November 2003, reporters and lawyers again asked Robson if he had had sexual contact with Jackson, and he answered, “I never had that experience and I hope that it never happened to anybody else.” (If he didn’t know it was wrong, why would he hope that it never happened to anyone else?) He also claimed (in one of many versions of his story) that Jackson repeatedly told him throughout his childhood that both of them would go to jail if anyone found out about their sexual relationship, and that he believed that well into adulthood. This, of course, flatly contradicts his claim that he was unaware that a sexual relationship between an adult and a child could be wrong.33
Robson’s mother stated in a 2013 deposition that he told her that the reason he previously had denied being abused, and had defended Jackson at the 2005 trial, was that he felt “ashamed” of being a victim. But during Robson’s own deposition for that same lawsuit, he was asked: “When you testified at the criminal trial in 2005, did you feel a sense of shame of what had happened between you and Michael?” He answered: “No, I didn’t. I didn’t have any—as I stated—I didn’t have any perspective on it. I didn’t know [anything] at any time until post-May 2012.”34 What’s more, a series of e-mails he exchanged with his mother during the year between May 8, 2012, and May 1, 2013, reveal that Robson had a lot of trouble “recalling” the details of abuse that he included in the manuscript of a book he tried to publish. On many occasions, he asked his mother what happened—or what she thought had happened—and presented her recollections as his own.35
In December 2010, Robson—by then a well-known dancer and choreographer—was offered the opportunity to direct the movie Step Up Revolution, and he accepted. But as he explained in a blog post, he suffered a nervous breakdown a few months later and pulled out of the project. He was, he said,
ravaged by a de-habilitating [sic] feeing [sic] of shame that I was a complete failure. I felt that my entire life had been building to this opportunity to become a Film Director, it had arrived, I was fulfilling Michael’s prophecy, and then I blew it, therefore my entire life, I believed, had been in vein [sic]. Thank God I had Amanda and our baby boy because beyond them, I felt no purpose anymore.36
He goes on to explain in that blog post and in several others that the primary cause of his breakdown and subsequent loss of the directing job was career-related stress—yet another claim that he would contradict after filing his lawsuit, in which he claims that his career troubles were entirely a result of unresolved psychological trauma inflicted by Jackson.37
In that same blog post, he claimed that just a few months after withdrawing from the movie, he was being considered for the position of lead choreographer for a Michael Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil show. However, this was never true, according to John Branca, coexecutor of the Michael Jackson estate. Robson previously had written to the show’s director asking for the job, and although he was granted an interview, he was not hired nor told that he might be. Yet Robson continued to speak as if he were a shoo-in for the job, even going so far as to claim during television interviews that he would be “starting on the Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson show” and would be entrusted with “a huge responsibility.”38
Robson did have experience as a choreographer; in the 1990s and the early 2000s, he worked for famous musicians such as NSYNC and Britney Spears. But he had trouble finding high-profile, high-paying work after that. From late 2012 through March 2013, he aggressively pitched a book he’d written about his alleged abuse to more than a dozen publishers, all of whom turned it down (in part because he had requested inordinately large advances).39
In a “coincidence of timing” similar to Safechuck’s, Robson decided to stop trying to sell his manuscript just two months before filing his multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Jackson’s estate. When reporters asked him why he’d abandoned his book, he claimed he realized that a book was “not going to be as impactful” as a lawsuit at getting the “truth . . . out there.”40
Whereas James Safechuck has gone on record with claims that were proven to be impossible, Robson has never produced any concrete (or even plausible) evidence that he was abused by Michael Jackson. He’s contradicted himself on dozens of occasions and committed perjury, either during Jackson’s trial in 2005 or during his own deposition in 2013—one or the other must be true. We simply have no reason to believe his claims but plenty of reasons to doubt them.
Alleged Abuse of Jordan Chandler (1992–1994)
Jackson’s relationship with Jordan Chandler began in May 1992, when the boy was twelve years old. Jackson’s car broke down in Los Angeles, so he sought aid from a nearby car rental agency owned by David Schwartz, Jordan’s stepfather. Schwartz recognized Jackson and offered to rent him a car for free if he would call Jordan, who was a big fan of Jackson’s. The singer accepted and kept his word; he called Jordan a few days later. Although this phone call marked the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Jackson and the Chandler family, it wasn’t the first time they had met.41
In 1984, Jackson suffered serious burns to his scalp as a result of a special-effects malfunction while shooting a Pepsi commercial. Jordan’s mother, June Chandler, sent Jackson a “get-well” card, and Jackson called her to thank her. When he learned that June had a four-year-old son, he invited her to have Jordan audition for a role in another commercial Jackson was due to appear in. June brought Jordan to the audition, but he wasn’t selected for the role. June reportedly was more distressed by this than Jordan was.
Between May 1992 and January 1993, Jackson called Jordan approximately once per month. June claimed later to have listened in on every one of these conversations and never heard Jackson say anything inappropriate. In February 1993, Jordan, his mother, and his younger sister, Lily, visited Neverland Ranch for the first time. They visited again the following month, at which time Jordan asked his mother if he could sleep in Jackson’s bedroom, where several other children and some of their parents were sleeping.42
The matter of Jackson’s bedroom has proven to be one of the most incendiary parts of the Jackson story. Yet the details have been repeatedly and deliberately distorted over the years by Jackson’s accusers and detractors. Although Jackson stated on tape that he “shared his bed with children,” nearly all of those video and audio clips have been presented in an edited form that ignores the context: in nearly every recorded case, Jackson immediately clarifies that he slept elsewhere and allowed the guests to sleep in his bed without him. He believed that “offering the best you have” (e.g., your own room) to your guests was simply part of being a good host.43
Jackson categorically denied ever sleeping in a bed with children other than his own. Nearly all of his employees at Neverland—and all of the other children who spent time at the ranch and made official statements about Jackson’s behavior—have agreed that Jackson always slept in a guest room or in a different area of his own bedroom when children and/or adults were sleeping in his room.44 This is not hard to believe: Jackson’s master suite at the palatial Neverland Ranch was two stories tall, with multiple bathrooms and sub-rooms, and was larger than many houses. Entire families often slept there, and each had ample space and relative privacy. As for the Chandler family, however, June consistently denied her son’s requests to sleep in Jackson’s bedroom and insisted that he sleep in a guest room. There is no evidence that Jackson ever argued against this decision, nor has June ever claimed otherwise.
During the spring of 1993, June, Jordan, and Lily accompanied Jackson on several trips to Las Vegas, Monaco, and Paris. In May of that year, Jordan’s biological father, Evan Chandler, invited Jackson to spend a weekend with him, his second wife, Nathalie, and their son. Jackson accepted, and a few days later, The National Enquirer (a tabloid) published a story titled “Michael Jackson’s Secret Family”—a story riddled with exaggerations, unsubstantiated claims, and unnamed “inside sources.”45 Ray Chandler, Evan Chandler’s brother, claimed in his 2004 book, All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-up, that a family friend sold the story to the Enquirer and was motivated purely by money to do so.46
About three weeks after the Enquirer story, Evan Chandler hired Barry Rothman, an attorney (and a patient of Evan’s—he was a dentist). Evan expressed “concerns” that Jackson was molesting Jordan and asked Rothman to end their relationship, either by seeking a restraining order against Jackson or by helping Evan win full custody of Jordan. At the time, neither Jordan nor June had accused Jackson of abuse or any other inappropriate behavior; Evan Chandler’s suspicions appear to have materialized out of thin air.
Throughout the remainder of the summer, Evan Chandler had Rothman threaten June and Jackson. Evan owed his ex-wife more than $68,000 in back child support and threatened that she would “never see Jordan again” if she didn’t sign a document legally remitting the debt. June signed the document under duress, claiming that even though she had partial custody of Jordan, she believed Evan might kidnap her son if she didn’t cooperate. In a recorded phone conversation between Evan Chandler and David Schwartz (Jordan’s stepfather) that took place on July 8, 1993, Evan described his motives for hiring Rothman—an attorney who nearly was disbarred for unethical conduct: “I picked the nastiest son of a bitch I could find, and 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.”47
Evan and Rothman contacted Dr. Mathis Abrams, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist, and asked him vague, hypothetical questions about child abuse. Abrams later said that he found the conversation strange but wrote in a short letter to Rothman that, based on Evan’s vague questions about a child whom Abrams had never met or spoken to, “reasonable suspicion would exist that sexual abuse may have occurred.” Evan later used this letter to threaten June and Jackson and to extort money from both of them.48
According to Evan, Jordan confessed to him out of the blue on July 16, 1993, that he had been abused by Jackson. But June recalled seeing Jordan later that day and noticing that her son was lethargic, confused, and slurring his speech. When she asked Evan about this, he claimed that he had sedated Jordan in his office to extract one of the boy’s teeth. In other words, Evan claimed that a delirious, barely conscious Jordan had told him that he had been abused by Jackson.
Rumors, their initial sources unknown, later surfaced that Evan had administered sodium amytal to his son, a drug sometimes incorrectly believed to be a mild “truth serum.” (So-called truth serums, often depicted in fiction, do not exist.) Oddly, when Evan and his anesthesiologist, Mark Torbiner, were asked whether they had given Jordan sodium amytal (which almost certainly would have been a medically inappropriate decision),49 both refused to admit or deny it. Torbiner would only say, “If I used it, it was for dental purposes.” What’s more, Jordan himself seemed to have no recollection of the statements he allegedly made while sedated. Two weeks after the incident, at a meeting in which Evan openly demanded money from Jackson for having allegedly abused his son, Jordan seemed surprised when his father broached the topic, said he had no memory of saying any such thing and looked at Jackson as if he were embarrassed or asking for forgiveness.50
At that meeting, Evan and Rothman demanded that Jackson pay them $20 million in exchange for not publicly accusing him of sexual abuse. Jackson refused and immediately hired an attorney. In response, Evan and Rothman reported Jackson to the Los Angeles Police Department a few days later. Jackson already had left the country for the next leg of his Dangerous world tour, and in his absence, and without his knowledge, police searched both Neverland Ranch and his Century City condominium. After the search, the Los Angeles Times reported:
Videotapes seized from homes belonging to Michael Jackson do not incriminate the entertainer, and the lack of physical evidence of alleged sexual molestation has left investigators “scrambling” to get statements from other potential victims. . . . “There’s no medical evidence, no taped evidence,” [a] source said. “The search warrant didn’t result in anything that would support a criminal filing.”51
After the searches, the Los Angeles Police Department interviewed between forty and one hundred children who had spent time at Neverland Ranch. None reported any abuse or inappropriate behavior.
On September 8, 1993, with news of the allegations against Jackson making headlines around the world, Evan and June Chandler, David Schwartz, and several lawyers met to discuss the prospect of pursuing a “highly profitable” civil case against Jackson. What precisely was said at the meeting may never be known, but at some point, Evan hit Schwartz in the face hard enough to cause Schwartz to lose consciousness.52
Evan, in fact, was a violent and erratic man. In 2005, just three weeks after the conclusion of Jackson’s criminal trial, he assaulted and nearly killed Jordan, striking him “on the head from behind with a twelve and one-half pound weight,” then spraying him in the face with pepper spray or mace and trying to strangle him. A judge later ruled that “the weight could have caused serious bodily injury or death.” Jordan filed for a permanent restraining order against his father, citing the assault as only one of several incidents in his father’s long history of physical abuse.53
In autumn of 1993, during another recorded phone conversation, Evan told Schwartz that on multiple occasions while he was married to June, he had threatened to kill her if she ever cheated on him or broke any of a number of other “rules” he had set for her. During yet another recorded call, Evan told Schwartz:
If I go through with [suing Michael Jackson], I win big time. There’s no way that I lose. I’ve checked that out inside-out . . . I will get everything I want, and they will be totally—they will be destroyed forever. They will be destroyed. June is gonna lose Jordy. She will have no right to ever see him again.
Schwartz asked, “Does that help Jordy?” Evan responded, “[That’s] irrelevant to me.”54
Jordan Chandler was deposed and asked to describe the abuse he purportedly had suffered at Jackson’s hands. Nearly everything he said about the alleged abuse was either demonstrably false or unsubstantiated. Perhaps the most sensationalized of Jordan’s claims related to Jackson’s genitals. Yet these were either inaccurate or failed to bolster his credibility. He claimed that Jackson was circumcised, but Jackson’s autopsy proved otherwise. He also described a single blotch or blemish at the base of Jackson’s penis, but Jackson’s genitals had many blotches at the time of his death, and by 1993 it was widely known that Jackson suffered from vitiligo, a disorder that causes patches of skin discoloration, particularly around the genitals. To this day, many people believe that Jackson lied about having vitiligo, but his autopsy confirmed the diagnosis.55
Attorney Larry Feldman, who ultimately represented the Chandlers in their civil suit against Jackson, reportedly told the family to have Jordan take a wild guess about the appearance of Jackson’s penis. In his book, Jordan’s uncle, Ray Chandler, recalled a conversation that took place on November 25, 1993, between Feldman and Evan Chandler:
Larry Feldman: Oh, yeah, Lauren Weis (Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney) told me today that this disease Michael says he’s got, vitiligo, that it’s capable of changing anywhere you look, so that anything Jordie says is irrelevant. It can change very quickly with this disease.
Evan Chandler: Shit, these guys seem to have an answer for everything.
Feldman: No, that’s good for us!
Feldman: Because if he’s right, he’s right. And if he’s wrong, we’ve got an explanation!
Feldman: Yeah, it’s a no-loser for us.
Chandler: That’s very good.
Feldman: Good? It’s terrific! You stick with the teeth, kid. I’m sticking with the law.56
Jackson was forced to undergo a strip search to check the accuracy of Jordan Chandler’s description of his naked body. Yet after that search, police chose not to arrest him. Later, it was the Chandlers’ attorney, Feldman—not Jackson’s attorney—who moved to bar the photographs from that strip search from the evidence introduced at the civil trial.
The Chandlers’ civil lawsuit was settled out of court when Jackson paid them $15,331,250—but it was Jordan, not Evan, who received the money. Ray and June Chandler since have contended that Evan grew to hate Jordan as a result, feeling cheated out of money that was rightfully his.
Perhaps most revealing of all is the fact that despite Evan Chandler’s claims that he only wanted justice for his son, he focused his attention exclusively on his civil case against Jackson, expressly disavowing any interest in a criminal case after the initial search of Jackson’s homes turned up no evidence to support the abuse allegations. A civil case can result in a monetary award, but only a criminal case can send the defendant to jail. It is simply impossible that a parent concerned with justice for an abused child would prefer money over seeing the abuser imprisoned.
Given Evan Chandler’s extensive history of abuse, violence, fraud, and dishonesty; his recorded statements concerning his desire to wring millions of dollars from Jackson even if doing so brought significant harm to his own family; and his documented willingness to threaten, manipulate, browbeat, and drug the people closest to him, the only reasonable conclusion in the Chandler case is that Jordan Chandler was abused—but not sexually, and not by Michael Jackson. In fact, he and Jackson were victims of the same people: Jordan’s father, and, to a lesser extent, some of his other relatives.
Jordan Chandler legally emancipated himself from his parents in 1995, at the age of fifteen. He has had no contact with his mother since 1994 and refused to testify against Jackson in 2005. To this day, he refuses to speak or be interviewed about Jackson. Evan Chandler committed suicide in 2009.
Alleged Abuse of Gavin Arvizo (2003)
In June 2000, Gavin Arvizo, then ten years old, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. His doctors removed his spleen and one kidney, and prescribed aggressive chemotherapy that left him nauseous for weeks at a time. They believed Gavin would die soon, and he expressed a desire to meet Michael Jackson before he did. Jackson called Gavin when he heard about the request and invited the Arvizo family to visit him at Neverland.
By August of that year, Gavin was making a remarkable and unexpected recovery, and was healthy enough to accept Jackson’s invitation. The entire Arvizo family—Gavin, his younger brother, Star; his older sister, Davellin; his mother, Janet; and his father, David—spent several days at Neverland. The first night, Gavin and Star begged their parents to let them sleep in Jackson’s bedroom. Janet and David agreed knowing that Jackson would be sleeping on the floor (as was his well-established custom by then). Jackson’s personal assistant, Frank Cascio, slept in the room as well, at Jackson’s request. Cascio recalled that night in his 2011 book, My Friend Michael:
Then came the night when Gavin and his brother Star pleaded with Michael to allow them to sleep with him. “Can we sleep in your room tonight? Can we sleep in your bed tonight?” the boys begged. “My mother said it’s okay, if it’s okay with you,” Gavin added. Michael, who always had a hard time saying no to kids, replied, “Sure, no problem.” But then he came to me. “She’s pushing her kids onto me,” he said, visibly concerned. He had a strange, uncomfortable feeling about it. “Frank, they can’t stay.”
I went to the kids and said, “Michael has to sleep. I’m sorry, you can’t stay in his room.” Gavin and Star kept begging, I kept saying no, and then Janet Arvizo said to Michael, “They really want to stay with you. It’s okay with me.” Michael relented. He didn’t want to let the kids down. His heart got in the way, but he was fully aware of the risk. He said to me, “Frank, if they’re staying in my room, you’re staying with me. I don’t trust this mother. She’s fucked up.” I was totally against it, but I said, “All right. We do what we have to do.” Having me there as a witness would safeguard Michael against any shady ideas that the Arvizos might have been harboring. Or so we were both naive enough to think.57
After that first visit to Neverland, the Arvizos had only one documented contact with Jackson during the next two years. In October 2000, he gave the family a new van and allowed them to host a blood drive for Gavin at Neverland. Every Neverland employee donated blood, as did some of Jackson’s other guests. Still, because Jackson previously had been accused falsely by the Chandlers, his suspicions about Janet Arvizo’s intentions never abated, and he began actively avoiding the family.58
The Arvizos visited Neverland between seven and ten more times during the following two years, but Jackson was away during most of those occasions. Then, in September 2001, Jackson’s and Cascio’s shared reservations about the Arvizos turned out to have been well-founded when it came to light that the Arvizos had reached an out-of-court settlement with J. C. Penney for $152,200 regarding a 1998 incident in which Gavin was caught shoplifting. Janet and David had sued the store, making outlandish claims that several of its employees assaulted the entire family and sexually abused Janet in the parking lot. At Jackson’s 2005 trial, his lawyer submitted evidence showing that the Arvizos had committed fraud and perjury during the J. C. Penney case.59
In September 2002, British journalist and television host Martin Bashir approached Jackson about appearing alongside Gavin Arvizo in a documentary called Living with Michael Jackson. Bashir told Jackson that he intended to portray him as a benevolent philanthropist who helps children with serious illnesses. Naively, Jackson agreed to participate. But as filming progressed, Bashir began to challenge him on camera about his relationships with young boys.60 The resulting footage was heavily edited to highlight Jackson as a socially awkward forty-something who didn’t understand that it’s unwise to allow himself to be filmed holding hands with a young teenager. It would have been a factually accurate (if one-sided) depiction of Jackson if Bashir had stopped there, but he didn’t. Rather than drawing a clear distinction between what was and was not known about Jackson’s very minimal relationship with Gavin, the film wildly speculates and heavily implies that something must be deeply sinister about it.
Yet Gavin’s parents had not objected to their son spending time with Jackson or sleeping in his bedroom at the time, and Janet Arvizo stated on video that she saw nothing wrong with Jackson holding her son’s hand, because he was like a second father to Gavin and “that’s what a father does with his son.” In retrospect, it is obvious that although Jackson clearly cared for Gavin, he deeply distrusted the boy’s parents—and rightly so, because Janet Arvizo would soon be caught red-handed, lying about Jackson abusing her son.
The Arvizos filed their initial felony complaint against Jackson on December 18, 2003, in which Janet claimed that Jackson began molesting Gavin on February 7 of that year and that Gavin told her about it immediately. But on February 20, Janet and her three children filmed two short videos in which they sang Jackson’s praises, defended his character, and criticized Martin Bashir for smearing Jackson in his documentary. She later recanted her official statement and said the abuse must have started sometime after the videos were filmed.61
Even more outlandish was a story she later told police about her entire family being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland for more than a month, a story so ridiculous and so thoroughly discredited by so many witnesses that it’s incredible she would even tell it. (Just one example: During her alleged period of captivity, she appeared in court opposite her ex-husband in a child support dispute; the judge, bailiff, stenographer, court clerks, Janet’s own lawyer, and her ex-husband all spent several hours with her.)62
This was only one of many times that the Arvizos would contradict themselves, lie under oath, and change their time line of events. Gavin and Star both told dozens and dozens of different stories while being interviewed before and during the trial.63 The changes and contradictions are so numerous and convoluted that, in light of the other evidence against the Arvizos, it’s not necessary to untangle them here.64
Amid the media frenzy, the general public came to believe that police had found child pornography and/or “child erotica” at Neverland Ranch. Such rumors remain widespread to this day, but all such claims are fabricated, and the 2005 trial transcripts refute them unequivocally. Police found legal, heterosexual adult pornography in locked containers at Jackson’s home in 2003, as well as a small number of art photography books containing nonsexual nude photos of children and adults. Jackson had one of the largest private libraries in the world and was an avid collector of art, photography, and literature. The presence of a few nonerotic art books that contained a small number of photos of children, amid his enormous collection, in no way constitutes evidence of a sexual attraction to children or of any unlawful act toward any particular child in Jackson’s life.65
Much later, in 2016, a tabloid called Radar Online published multiple articles claiming that child pornography had been found at Neverland Ranch in 2003, including two books by erotica photographer Larry Clark that contained nude teenaged subjects who may or may not have been over eighteen. Not only were no books by Clark ever found in Jackson’s possession, but one of those referenced in the article was not published until 2012, almost a decade after the search of Neverland.66 (The tabloid neglected to mention the title of that book, likely because the title itself contains the year of publication. They simply published edited photos taken from it without naming the source.)
Every other claim concerning child pornography allegedly found in Jackson’s possession has proven equally unfounded. Millions of people believe otherwise for no reason other than: They heard it somewhere, chose to accept it as truth, and, in many cases, repeated it.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon, who investigated Jackson in 1993 and prosecuted him unsuccessfully in 2005, allegedly committed a felony in 2005 by giving a legal pornographic magazine found in Jackson’s bedroom to Gavin Arvizo during the grand jury hearing, then bagging it to be sent away for fingerprint analysis.67 This clearly constitutes falsification of evidence, and a district attorney of twenty-two years would—or should—most definitely know that. During the criminal trial, Sneddon put Gavin on the stand, and the boy testified clearly and repeatedly that Jackson had showed him a particular issue of that pornographic magazine—until Jackson’s lawyer pointed out that the issue in question wasn’t published until eight months after the alleged incident, at which time Gavin again changed his story.68
For reasons unknown, Sneddon was not prosecuted for falsifying evidence, nor was he removed from the case—nor was the incident even officially investigated—despite the reports of at least three witnesses who said they saw him do it. Sneddon and his team of investigators also illegally searched Jackson’s office, his private investigator’s office, and his personal assistant’s home. Sneddon was never prosecuted or officially investigated for any of those offenses, despite the fact that his illegal search of the private investigator’s office is mentioned in the official 2005 trial transcripts.69
To recap: It has never been proven (or even plausibly suggested) that Jackson ever possessed any form of child pornography or abused Gavin Arvizo. Janet Arvizo, on the other hand, has committed welfare fraud,70 extorted a six-figure settlement from a department store, and lied to police and reporters. Gavin, now thirty years old, refuses to speak publicly about his allegations against Jackson. District Attorney Thomas Sneddon died in 2014, shortly after the people who claimed to have witnessed him fabricating evidence during the 2005 trial publicly announced their intent to petition a court to formally investigate him.
Jackson was acquitted in 2005 because the jury unanimously was not convinced that he was guilty. Jackson’s accusers, at best, failed to prove their allegations. At worst, they lied, falsified evidence, and colluded with one another to do both.
Jackson’s acquittal wasn’t merely a “better safe than sorry” decision—it was the only evidence-based and morally defensible outcome. The American legal system (when it works as intended) is a stunning achievement of justice. Although some people who likely were guilty of crimes—such as District Attorney Thomas Sneddon—were not held accountable, the justice system worked insofar as it acquitted Jackson.
The most popular entertainer of all time wanted to live as a child, and in many respects, he did. Unfortunately, like a young child, he often was naive and too willing to trust others who showed signs of wanting to harm him. He saw the “adult world” as chaotic, cold, and far too serious. It’s not hard to understand why he chose to surround himself with children.
Of course, understanding Jackson’s actions isn’t the same as condoning them. His lack of maturity invited tragic hardships into his life that could have been avoided and brought intense pain to him and to those closest to him. Objectivity means loyalty to the facts of reality, and the American legal system is built on that foundation. Michael Jackson was flawed, to be sure—but he was no child molester. The facts of reality simply don’t support that horrific accusation.
It is true that “lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons.” In time, the lies told about Michael Jackson will fade away—but the damage they’ve caused to him and to his family will never heal entirely. The truth is often complex, multifaceted, and difficult to unravel, and it’s especially so in this case. But the truth also is immutable, and anyone willing to take the time to assess Jackson’s case carefully and objectively will uncover it.
Here’s to the legacy of one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known—to a man who, whatever his flaws, made the world a brighter and more enjoyable place for hundreds of millions of people. Here’s to an ongoing, unwavering commitment to use one’s mind to discover the truth—in this issue and in every other issue that men face. Here’s to justice for Michael Jackson.
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly reported Jackson's total posthumous earnings as $400 million as of 2018, but in fact, he earned $400 million posthumously in 2018. At that time, his cumulative posthumous earnings were $2.1 billion. Thank you to reader Chris Mouland for catching the error.
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1. Acknowledgments: I’d like to thank Jeanne White, Amy White, Jon Hersey, Robert Begley, Carrie-Ann Biondi, Leisa Hart, Craig Franklin, and especially Timothy Sandefur for their help in editing and fact-checking this piece; “List of Awards and Nominations Received by Michael Jackson,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Michael_Jackson#Major_Awards_&_Records (accessed October 28, 2019); Colin Stutz, “Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Becomes First-Ever 30 Times Multi-Platinum Album: Exclusive,” December 16, 2015, Billboard, https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/6812781/michael-jackson-thriller-30x-multi-platinum-album; Zack O'Malley Greenburg, “Michael Jackson at 60: The King of Pop by the Numbers,” August 29, 2018, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2018/08/29/michael-jackson-at-60-the-king-of-pop-by-the-numbers/#18b37f5d72ed.
2. Joe Vogel, “What You Should Know about the New Michael Jackson Documentary,” Forbes, January 29, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/joevogel/2019/01/29/what-you-should-know-about-the-new-michael-jackson-documentary/#110e532b640f; “Dan Reed Dances around the Interview Question,” LeavingNeverlandFacts.com, February 5, 2019, https://leavingneverlandfacts.com/dan-reed/"; Reed has admitted that he did not interview anyone other than the alleged victims for his film and repeatedly has evaded questions about the journalistic integrity of that decision.
3. Ben Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror, March 26, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXWRyvoYnic.
4. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, “Michael Jackson—Artist Biography,” AllMusic, https://www.allmusic.com/artist/michael-jackson-mn0000467203/biography (accessed May 29, 2019); Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
5. Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
6. Julie Shaw and Martin Bashir, Living with Michael Jackson, February 6, 2003, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z34BKlCr9o.
7. Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
8. Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
9. Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
10. Mole, Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror.
11. manu gmz, “Michael Jackson—Fun at Neverland,” YouTube, July 6, 2009, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raw96oUPGLk.
12. Jackson did not create the moonwalk—it was in use by performers such as Cab Calloway as early as the 1930s—but Jackson’s rendition of the difficult dance move was the first to become an enduring global sensation.
13. Jon Blistein, “Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch Devalued in Real Estate Market,” Rolling Stone, March 2, 2017, https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/michael-jacksons-neverland-ranch-devalued-in-real-estate-market-110295"; La Toya Jackson and Jeffé Phillips, Starting Over (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012), 297.
14. The Michael Jackson Allegations, “Differences between Leaving Neverland/Interviews and the Robson/Safechuck Lawsuits,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2019/03/17/differences-between-leaving-neverland-interviews-and-the-robson-safechuck-lawsuits/ (accessed July 10, 2019); John C. Manly, Vince W. Finaldi, and Alex Cunny, Second Amended Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial by James Safechuck against MJJ Productions Inc., MJJ Ventures Inc., and DOES 6–50, Superior Court of the State of California, https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/safechuck_v_mjj-second_amended_complaint-conformed.pdf (accessed August 13, 2019).
15. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Safechuck Alleges Sexual Abuse at the Iconic Neverland Train Station that Did Not Even Exist at the Time,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2019/03/30/safechuck-alleges-sexual-abuse-at-a-train-station-that-did-not-even-exist-at-the-time/" (accessed October 8, 2019).
16. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Safechuck Alleges Sexual Abuse.”
17. Elise Capron, “Episode 094—Harrison Funk Special,” The MJCast, http://www.themjcast.com/episode-094-harrison-funk-special/ (accessed October 8, 2019); Michael Jackson Allegations, “Safechuck Alleges Sexual Abuse.”
18. Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland, HBO, 2019; Michael Jackson Allegations, “Safechuck Alleges Sexual Abuse”; Manly, Finaldi, and Cunny, Second Amended Complaint for Damages and Demand for Jury Trial by James Safechuck against MJJ Productions Inc., MJJ Ventures Inc., and DOES 6–50.
19. Lorenn Anderson and Ronda Anderson-Singer v. Sea/Sue Inc., et al., No. 56-2013-00435786-CU-MC-VTA (Ventura County Superior Court, 2014), https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/dad-lawsuit.pdf (accessed October 8, 2019).
20. ET Canada, “Macaulay Culkin on Michael Jackson Friendship,” YouTube, January 16, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24QuSFa3LNI.
21. Charles Thomson, “One of the Most Shameful Episodes in Journalistic History,” Huffpost, May 25, 2011, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/one-of-the-most-shameful_b_610258; Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Court Transcripts,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/the-court-transcripts/" (accessed July 25, 2019).
22. Michael Jackson, “Childhood Official Video,” YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puQEcN_iI9o (accessed October 28, 2019).
23. Kit Culkin, Lost Boy, self-pub PDF, October 5, 2005, 43.
24. Culkin, Lost Boy, 42.
25. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Wade Robson Allegations,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/the-wade-robson-allegations/" (accessed September 6, 2019); Michael Jackson Allegations, “The 1993 Allegations,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/the-1993-allegations/" (accessed September 6, 2019).
26. Michael Jackson Allegations, Michael Jackson and Wade Robson: The Real Story, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgSbSotJgUY (accessed September 6, 2019).
27. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Litigation—Part 2,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2018/05/12/the-litigation-part-2/" (accessed October 8, 2019).
28. Precise, reliable accounts of every instance in which Jackson and Robson spent time together are nearly impossible to compile, but most sources who knew both of them agree that they were rarely alone together. Other members of Robson’s family, Jackson’s staff, and/or employees of the venues where Jackson’s concerts were held almost always were present.
29. Michael Jackson Allegations, “A Critical Analysis of Leaving Neverland,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2019/02/25/a-critical-analysis-of-leaving-neverland/" (accessed October 28, 2019).
30. Recall that in the James Safechuck section, I wrote that none of Jackson’s security staff ever reported witnessing abuse. The employees I refer to here are non-security personnel—housekeepers, gardeners, and the like.
31. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Wade’s Witnesses—Part 1,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2018/05/12/wades-witnesses-part-1/" (accessed October 8, 2019); Michael Jackson Allegations, “Wade’s Witnesses—Part 2,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2018/05/12/wades-witnesses-part-2/ (accessed October 8, 2019); Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Court Transcripts.”
32. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Wade Robson Allegations (Summary Version),” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2018/09/23/the-wade-robson-allegations/" (accessed October 28, 2019); Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Court Transcripts.”
33. Michael Jackson Allegations, Michael Jackson and Wade Robson: The Real Story.
34. Michael Jackson Allegations, Michael Jackson and Wade Robson: The Real Story.
35. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Wade Robson’s Emails,” https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/2016-12-27-robsonemailswatermark.pdf (accessed October 8, 2019).
36. Wade Robson, “Break to Heal, Part I,” Wade’s Window, https://waderobson.com/wadeswindow/breaktoheal1 (accessed September 6, 2019).
37. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Wade Robson Allegations (Summary Version).”
38. Michael Jackson Allegations, Michael Jackson and Wade Robson: The Real Story.
39. The Michael Jackson Allegations, “Robson’s Route to Changing His Story—Part 9,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2018/05/12/robsons-route-to-changing-his-story-part-9/" (accessed October 8, 2019).
40. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Wade Robson Deposition Extracts,” https://themichaeljacksonallegationsblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/wade-robson-deposition-extracts.pdf (accessed October 28, 2019).
41. It’s unlikely that Jackson remembered who the Chandlers were right away or that he knowingly sought them out when his car broke down. It was almost certainly the Chandlers who pursued Jackson, not the other way around. One of David Schwartz’s employees observed: “It was almost like [Jordan’s mother] was forcing [Jordan] on [Michael]. . . . I think Michael thought he owed the boy something, and that’s when it all started.” Other people who knew both Jackson and the families he spent time with, such as Jackson’s personal assistant, Frank Cascio, and his employee of seventeen years, Grace Rwaramba, have made similar observations.
42. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The 1993 Allegations.”
43. Shaw and Bashir, Living with Michael Jackson.
44. Shaw and Bashir, Living with Michael Jackson.
45. Barbara Sternig and David Duffy, “Michael Jackson’s Secret Family—A Millionaire’s Wife and Her Two Kids,” May 25, 1993, https://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/a-surprising-case-of-the-national-enquirer-telling-the-truth-about-michael-jackson/".
46. Ray Chandler, All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-up (Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2005), 25.
47. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The 1993 Allegations.”
48. Michael Jackson Allegations, “How Did the Allegations of the Chandlers Emerge?,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2016/12/26/how-did-the-allegations-of-the-chandlers-emerge/" (accessed October 8, 2019).
49. Although I’m neither a doctor nor a pharmacologist, I was a nurse for ten years and I have knowledge of the drugs most commonly used to sedate patients for surgical procedures. I never have heard of sodium amytal being used or even considered for routine medical or dental procedures.
50. Michael Jackson Allegations, “The Use of Sodium Amytal?,” https://themichaeljacksonallegations.com/2016/12/26/the-use-of-sodium-amytal/" (accessed October 7, 2019).
51. Jim Newton and Sonia Nazario, “Police Say Seized Tapes Do Not Incriminate Jackson: Investigation: Officials Continue to Interview Children in Connection with Molestation Allegations,” Los Angeles Times, August 27, 1993, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1993-08-27-mn-28516-story.html.
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53. Michael Jackson Allegations, “Michael Jackson’s First Accuser—Meet the Chandler Family!”
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56. Chandler, All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-up, 202–3.
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