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A general outline of the events leading up to the Arvizo allegations

In this section we give a general outline of the Arvizo case and mainly about the events leading up to the allegations and how and when the allegations emerged. The exact content of the Arvizo family’s allegations, the contradictions and changes in them, the timeline and its changes and the credibility issues with the Arvizo family and other issues of the case will be discussed in detail in separate articles.

Click on the title to read the articles below:

Michael Jackson first met his later accuser, Gavin Arvizo and the boy’s family in the summer of 2000. At the time the then 10-year-old Gavin was in hospital with a rare type of cancer that affected his kidney and spleen. His doctors removed one of his kidneys and his spleen and began chemotherapy.

Gavin was a big fan of comedians and before his illness he went to comedy classes at the Laugh Factory which is a comedy club in Hollywood owned by the comedian, Jamie Masada. In the club Gavin and his family made friends with several comedians such as Masada, George Lopez, Louise Palanker and Chris Tucker. When Gavin became ill Masada visited him in the hospital several times. Gavin asked him to help him meet certain celebrities, and one day he asked to meet Michael Jackson.

Masada testified at Jackson’s trial that he did not personally know Michael Jackson, but he somehow managed to contact his people and tell them about Gavin’s request. Jackson called the boy in the hospital and they talked for about five minutes, according to Gavin’s testimony in 2005. During the conversation Jackson invited Gavin and his family to his Neverland Ranch. According to Gavin’s 2005 testimony Jackson called him about 20 other times during his illness – sometimes in the hospital, sometimes in his grandmother’s home where Gavin lived at the time in a sterile room.

After the first round of Gavin’s chemotherapy the Arvizo family went to Neverland in August 2000. The family at the time consisted of Gavin, his older sister Davellin, his one year younger brother Star, their mother Janet Arvizo and their father David Arvizo. They all went on that Neverland visit.

On that first visit Gavin and Star slept in Jackson’s bedroom. This is the night that is referenced in the 2003 Bashir documentary that caused big public uproar, even though both Gavin and Jackson made it clear that while the kids slept on the bed, Jackson slept on the floor:

“Gavin: There was one night, I asked him if I could stay in his bedroom. He let me stay in the bedroom. And I was like, ‘Michael you can sleep in the bed’, and he was like ‘No, no, you sleep on the bed’, and I was like ‘No, no, no, you sleep on the bed’, and then he said ‘Look, if you love me, you’ll sleep in the bed’. I was like ‘Oh mannnn?” so I finally slept on the bed. But it was fun that night.

Jackson: I slept on the floor. Was it a sleeping bag?

Gavin: You packed the whole mess of blankets on the floor.” [1]

(Emphasis added.)

What is not mentioned in the documentary is the fact that not only Jackson did not sleep in the same bed as Gavin and Star, but he also insisted on his personal assistant, Frank Cascio (also called Frank Tyson sometimes) to sleep in the room as well. Jackson’s own children, 3-year-old Prince and 2-year old Paris (Blanket was not yet born), were there as well and slept on the bed with the Arvizo kids, while the two adult men, Jackson and Cascio, slept on the floor.

Cascio recalled the situation 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 – the mother] 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.” [2]

The fact that Cascio and Jackson’s children were in the room as well was not disputed by the Arvizos in Court, nor did they claim any molestation or attempt at molestation occurring that night. They claimed the acts of molestation happened almost three years later, in February-March 2003, AFTER the Bashir documentary aired and WHILE Santa Barbara authorities and child protective services were investigating Jackson because of the Bashir documentary. We will discuss this timeline later in this article.

There was one disputed element of this night, though. In Court in 2005 the Arvizos accused Jackson and Cascio of showing them adult heterosexual pornography on a laptop computer that Jackson gave to Gavin as a gift that day. Both Jackson and Cascio denied showing any such material to the children. We address this allegation in our article entitled The Changing Content of the Allegations and Contradictions.

According to Gavin’s own testimony, after this one occasion at Neverland he and his family did not have much contact with Jackson until the fall of 2002, when they were called back for the Bashir documentary. They were allowed to go to Neverland, and they did at least 7-10 times during that period, but most of the time Jackson was not even there and when he was, he actively avoided the Arvizos. From Gavin’s direct examination at Jackson’s 2005 trial:

Q. And on those occasions when Mr. Jackson was on the ranch, did you have any contact with him ?

A. Those two occasions, yeah. But, I mean, like, sometimes I would go up to the ranch and he would say that he ‘s not there, and then he would be there .

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. Like, when I would have cancer. I don‘t know what happened, but Michael, like, kind of stopped talking to me and stuff, right in the middle of my cancer. And, like, I would go up there, and I would see, like, Prince and Paris playing there, and I would think that Michael was there, and they would tell me that Michael wasn’t there. And then, like, I would see him somewhere, and — I don’t know.

Q. Was there one occasion when you actually ran into him by accident ?

A. Yeah.

Q. Tell the jury about that.

A. Well, I was playing with Prince and Paris outside, like in the back of the house near where the arcade was . And then we were walking into the — into the main house . And I knew the code, because they would give me the codes. And then I walked in the door with Prince in my hand and Paris in my other hand, and — we were holding hands. And then we walked into the house and there I saw Michael walking, like, toward me. But I guess he didn’t see me turn the corner. And then he acted as if , “Oh, crap,” you know what I mean? Like, he saw me. And then — then he just played it off and , like, acted like, “Oh, hi, Doo-Doo Head.” You know, at the time I — I was kind of hypnotized and, like, he ‘s my –

MR. MESEREAU: Objection; calls for a narrative and non responsive.

THE COURT : Sustained .

Q. BY MR . SNEDDON : Okay.

A. And then , like –

Q. That’s all right. I’ll give you a question. So in any case , you bumped into him ?

A. Yeah. And I was — because of –

Q. That’s okay . How much more contact did you have with him on that time when you bumped into him? How much time did the contact last?

A. I didn’t really see him through my cancer a lot.

Q. I mean, you told the ladies and gentlemen of the jury there was an occasion where you were there when you kind of bumped into him by accident ?

A. Yeah.

Q. When you actually made contact with him – okay? – how long did that last? Just — how long was the conversation between the two of you?

A. Maybe , like , five minutes. When — that time we bumped into each other, and then we just talked about — and stuff, and he said he had to go somewhere. [3]

On cross-examination by Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Meserau Gavin again complained about Jackson avoiding him and said that no other celebrity he befriended ever did that to him:

Q. Can you look this jury in eye and tell them Michael Jackson did nothing for you when you had cancer?

A. I never said Michael did nothing for me.

Q. Did you say he did very little?

A. Yeah. He didn’t do as much as I felt, as my 11-year-old mind felt.

Q. He should.

A. No. He shouldn’t — it’s not his obligation to do anything.

Q. Well, are you telling the jury you deserved a lot more from Michael Jackson than you and your family got?

A. No.

Q. Is that what you’re saying?

A. No. I’m just saying that — see, when I have a friend, Michael, and you’re saying all these things that he did, but, you know, when my 11-year-old mind — and when I see my friend say that he’s not there, and he’s not at Neverland Ranch trying — and I see him walking and I see his car that he only drives going down at Neverland, you know, it felt like my heart broke right there.

Q. So by doing all of these things –

A. And I don’t remember George Lopez or Jamie Masada or Louise Palanker ever doing that to me. [4]

Gavin also complained on the stand that Jackson changed his phone numbers and became unavailable to them.

Q. And at some point you complained to the sheriffs that Mr. Jackson had changed his phone numbers after you visited the Hilton, right?

A. Well, that was the only phone number I left — or I called — well, I’m not sure. Because the only phone number that never changed was Evvy’s [Evvy Tavasci – Jackson’s secretary at the time] phone number. And I would call her and I would ask her sometimes where Michael was or something. And then — and I had the phone number to his hotel, so I think I called him at his hotel and asked him if I could go visit him. I think it was around — I’m not sure when exactly.

Q. When did you first get upset about your phone numbers for Michael Jackson not working?

A. Maybe around the third or fourth chemotherapy round I called his numbers and it would be, like, “This phone number is no longer in service.” Or sometimes it would just ring and it wouldn’t never — no one would ever pick up or something like that.

Q. Well, you’ve indicated that you were upset that the phone numbers you had for Mr. Jackson at some point didn’t work, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And the phone numbers you had for Mr. Jackson began to not work after it appeared that your cancer was in remission, correct?

A. No, I said they stopped working after my third or fourth chemotherapy round.

Q. Okay. Before that, could you easily call him?

A. Yes.

Q. And before that, did you often call him?

A. Yes. And he would call me and stuff. We would talk — we talked a lot more before then.

Q. In fact, you called him at the Universal — Hilton Universal the day you visited, right?

A. I believe so. I’m not too sure how it came about. [5]

and

Q. Okay. Now, you complained to the Santa Barbara Sheriffs that, “After I was done with my cancer stuff,” you never saw Michael again, right?

A. No, not until the Martin Bashir thing.

Q. Okay. And you wanted to see him after you were in remission, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You wanted to visit Neverland after you were in remission, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And you felt in some way that Michael had cut off the friendship, right?

A. Yes.

Q. You felt he had abandoned you, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And you felt he had abandoned your family, right?

A. Yes. [5]

To not to lose contact with Jackson the Arvizo family started to bombard him with nice letters and cards:

Q. And approximately when do you think he wasn’t talking to you anymore?

A. Two months into my cancer.

Q. Excuse me?

A. Two months into my chemotherapy.

Q. Approximately when would that be?

A. August or September of 2000.

Q. Okay. So August or September of 2000, you and your family started sending nice letters and cards to Michael Jackson, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And those are the letters and cards that I showed you a little while ago, right?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was your understanding your mother used to send him cards and letters as well, right?

A. I think so.

Q. And she used to refer to him as “daddy,” didn’t she.

A. I don’t think she referred to him as “daddy.”

Q. You never heard her say that once.

 A. Well, toward me, me saying that. Because, I mean, my dad had left. And I started calling him “daddy” after my dad left because I didn’t have a dad.

 Q. And your mother approved of that, correct.

 A. Yeah. [5]

While Jackson personally kept his distance from the family, he did things to help them. In October, 2000 Jackson gave the family a white van as a gift. He also allowed the Arvizos to use Neverland for a blood drive for Gavin and all his employees donated blood.

In the Spring of 2001 Gavin’s biological father and mother, David and Janet Arvizo seperated – according to Janet Arvizo’s 2005 testimony because David physically abused her and the children.

In the Summer of 2001 both the laptop and the van Jackson gave the Arvizos the previous year had broken down and the family sent them back to Jackson to have them repaired. According to the Arvizos they never saw any of them again.

On September 24, 2001 the Arvizo family reached an out of court settlement with the J. C. Penney department store. The subject of the case was an allegation by the Arvizo family that in 1998 J.C. Penney guards beat up Janet, David, Gavin and Star Arvizo in a parking lot and they sexually abused Janet Arvizo. The guards followed the family in the parking lot because Gavin was caught stealing two school uniforms and two school uniform pants. The Arvizos then managed to turn it around into a physical and sexual abuse lawsuit against the J. C. Penney guards. At Jackson’s 2005 trial evidence and testimony showed that the family lied under oath in depositions in that case. We will discuss the details of this case in a separate article.

In the Spring of 2002 the Arvizos spent a few days at Neverland with the actor Chris Tucker to celebrate the birthday of latter’s infant son. Jackson was not present.

Sources:

[1] Martin Bashir – Living with Michael Jackson (February 2003)

[2] Frank Cascio – My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man (William Morrow, November 15, 2011)

[3] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 9, 2005)

[4] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 10, 2005)

[5] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 14, 2005)

In the Summer-Autumn of 2002 British journalist and television host Martin Bashir worked on a documentary with Michael Jackson entitled “Living with Michael Jackson”. During the creation of that documentary Bashir suggested to Jackson that in the film he could show the public how the singer helped children with serious illnesses. Jackson presented Bashir with two examples: the story of David Rothenberg (“Dave Dave”) who was badly burned by his father when he was a child in the 1980s. Jackson took it upon himself to help Rothenberg throughout his life. Here is Rothenberg talking about Michael Jackson after Jackson’s death:

The other option offered was the cancer survivor Gavin Arvizo. By 2002 Rothenberg was an adult and Bashir chose to go with the still 13-year-old Gavin instead, so they invited him and his siblings, Star and Davellin to the set – even though Rothenberg was present as well, according to Gavin’s testimony:

Q. Okay. Did you ever meet this person who was burned?

A. Yeah, I think Michael introduced me to him.

Q. And when was this?

A. Around the same time as the Martin Bashir thing.

Q. Was it at Neverland?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you talk to this person?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember the person’s name?

A. I think his name might have been David.

Q. Was it Rothenberg?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Was this a young man that you learned his father had poured gasoline on him and set him on fire?.

A. I don’t know.

Q. Okay.

A. I think that’s what happened.

Q. And he was supposed to be in the film with you, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And correct me if I’m wrong, you discussed with Michael the fact that Michael had helped this young boy, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Did you talk to this young boy about what he had experienced?

A. No.

Q. Okay. Did you ever see him?

A. Yes.

Q. And please describe for the jury what he looked like.

A. He looked like he was really badly burned and he had like – he was like a rocker. He was wearing, like, rocker stuff. And he was burned. And he had like only a few hairs on his head because I guess it covered all the pores when he was burned.

Q. Did you and he appear in the film, if you know?

A. Later I watched it, and then — well, I watched my part, and then I don’t think he was in there.

Q. Okay. But was he at Neverland the day you were filmed?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Did you meet him shortly after you arrived?

A. Yes. [1]

The shooting of the scene with Gavin and his two siblings took place in September 2002. Janet Arvizo later said that she was not aware at the time that her children would appear in the documentary.

Jackson trusted that Bashir had no hidden agenda in how he presented his relationship with Gavin and out of naivety and guilelessness allowed himself to be filmed showing affection to Gavin and holding his hand while the boy leaned his head on his shoulder. Bashir exploited Jackson’s poor judgement in public relations and drew him into a discussion of whether it was acceptable to share a bedroom with a child.

When the documentary aired in February 2003 this segment caused a storm of bad publicity for Jackson and wild speculations about the nature of his relationship with Gavin Arvizo. In reality, as you have seen above, there was no close relationship between Jackson and Gavin, and since 2000 they hardly even met.

Throughout the documentary Bashir uses suggestive and highly manipulative narration and it seems that his intention from the beginning was to create and feed in innuendo about Jackson’s relationship with children. Even Gavin admitted in his 2005 testimony that Bashir’s portrayal of Jackson in the documentary was false. After the shooting of the scene the Arvizo children stayed at the ranch for one night, but Jackson immediately left after the segment and he was again unavailable to Gavin:

Q. At that point, could you reach Michael Jackson by telephone if you wanted to?

A. No, after the Martin Bashir thing, he didn’t give me any phone numbers, because he left, like, either the same day or the day after the Martin Bashir interview, and I didn’t really get any other phone numbers. [1]

Source:

[1] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 14, 2005)

The Arvizos had not met Jackson again until after the Bashir documentary aired in the UK on February 3, 2003 and then in the US on February 6, 2003. As a result of the documentary the media went into a frenzy, the 1993 allegations against Jackson were rehashed in articles and talk shows. On February 6 someone illegally leaked Jordan Chandler’s 1993 declaration to the media to further antagonize the public against Jackson. [For more details about the 1993 Jordan Chandler allegations please see the relevant section of our website.] The media also tried to “hunt down” the Arvizo family.

Jackson’s team tried to fight this negative publicity and decided to hold a press conference with the Arvizo family in Miami on February 5 or 6, 2003. The press conference eventually was called off, but the Arvizos did travel to Miami with actor Chris Tucker to participate in it in support of Jackson. Jackson and the Arvizos then returned to Neverland on February 7-8. The family remained there, on and off, until March 12.

In the hindsight, while making their allegations the Arvizos claimed that on the way back to Los Angeles from Miami on February 7 on the airplane they witnessed Jackson lick the head of a sleeping Gavin. Despite of the fact that many people were on the plane the only two people who have ever claimed to have witnessed this alleged scene were Star and Janet Arvizo. Although this whole alleged scene lasted for only six seconds, Janet Arvizo got up from her seat to go to the restroom exactly at the right moment to witness it – quiet conveniently.  Oddly, Janet Arvizo never confronted Jackson about what she allegedly witnessed, nor did she ever ask her sons about it. Supposedly she just kept it to herself and the first time she ever mentioned it to anyone was when the family first started to make child molestation allegations against Jackson later in 2003.

In the hindsight, when they made their allegations, the Arvizos claimed that during this period, February 7-March 12, 2003, they were kept captive at Neverland against their will. This allegation is what the conspiracy charge deals with and we will discuss it in detail in another article [coming soon]. During their alleged captivity the Arvizos went shopping several times, visited a lawyer, talked to Child Protective Services because of the Bashir documentary and appeared in a Court regarding a child support debate, yet they never reported to authorities that they were allegedly being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland. The claim was that Jackson supposedly kept them captive to force them to participate in the so called “rebuttal video”.

Jackson’s team was trying to do damage control regarding the Bashir documentary and they were working on a so called “rebuttal video” which was released on February 20, 2003 as Michael Jackson, Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See. This documentary features footage made by Jackson’s own cameraman Hamid Moslehi during the shooting of the Bashir documentary and it features material that Bashir deliberately omitted, shows his manipulation of Jackson and also features interviews with other people, for example with Jackson’s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe.

Initially the Arvizos would have been featured in this documentary as well, but at the end their segment was not included. However, the footage that was made for this documentary with the Arvizo family was shot early in that morning (on February 20) and later found by the prosecution when they searched Moslehi’s home during the Jackson investigation. As a result the Arvizos, – with the prosecution’s assistance – were forced to change their initial timeline of the allegations.

Initially the Arvizos claimed the molestation started as soon as they returned from Miami with Jackson, on February 7. Their segment of the “rebuttal video” however was shot on February 20. In it they are seen laughing and joking, happily praising Michael Jackson. They also express their displeasure with Martin Bashir. In the hindsight they tried to claim they were under duress, but behind the scenes footage showed them not only laughing and joking, but even making suggestions themselves about what they wanted to do on film. They certainly do not seem to be forced or under duress by any means. The resulting timeline change was not just a minor correction. It significantly changed the narrative of the Arvizo’s initial story as we will discuss later in this article.

The Arvizo segment from the so called “rebuttal video” which eventually was not used in the Take Two documentary, but later became significant at Jackson’s trial:

Behind the scenes footage shows the family laughing and joking:

On February 20, the same day as the Arvizo’s segment for the “rebuttal video” was shot they also got a visit from the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS, also mentioned as Child Protective Services – CPS). They interviewed the Arvizo family because a teacher from Gavin’s school filed a complaint over the claim in the Bashir documentary that Gavin had slept in Jackson’s bed. Again, the Arvizos said nothing but positive things about Jackson. They denied molestation and never claimed that they had been supposedly “kidnapped” or held against their will. In actuality, this meeting with the DCFS took place in Major Jay Jackson’s (no relation to Michael Jackson) home who was Janet Arvizo’s boyfriend at the time and later her husband.

To explain why they did not tell anything negative about Michael Jackson to the DCFS the Arvizos had several versions of their story: initially they claimed it was because Jackson and his people intimidated them. According to the prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause (November 17, 2003) document on August 13, 2003 Gavin told them:

“Gavin was asked why he did not disclose anything to the CPS people. He said by then they were really afraid of Frank (Cascio) and Michael.” [1; page 60]

His brother Star too claimed on the same day that the reason why they had not disclosed anything to the DCFS was intimidation by Jackson and his people:

“When asked during the CPS interview why he did not disclose anything about what was going on with Michael’s people and Michael himself, Star replied that Michael had scared them by threatening them that he was going to kill them. He then clarified that it was not Michael that actually made the threat, but “Michael’s people.” He was asked if he was personally threatened or if he heard a threat, and he said yes. Frank told him that if Star didn’t protect Michael, something bad would happen to the family.

The threat was made at the snack area of the theatre at Neverland. He was the only one there at the moment. Frank made another threat a couple days before the CPS meeting. Star was asked if Frank knew that they would be meeting with the ladies from the Child Welfare Services, and he said yes. When Star was asked why he thought Frank had made that threat, he said, “Because he already knew what Michael did to us.” If they had told the truth, Michael would have gone to jail. “ [1; page 51-52]

and

“He is sure he did not say anything bad about Michael (to the CPS), because he was scared.” [1; page 52]

This is, however, totally contradictory with the later version of the Arvizos’ story, in which they claimed that the molestation started happening only AFTER the DCFS’s visit and that is why they did not disclose anything to them. In actuality, in 2005 in Court Gavin testified – according to the latest version of their story – that on February 20, when they shot the “rebuttal video” and when they were interviewed by the DCFS, they still considered Jackson to be a good person and they had no problem praising him.

Under cross-examination by Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, the boy stated that most of the things that they said in the “rebuttal video” reflected their true feelings about the entertainer at the time. He talked about some lies that they told – allegedly at the request of one of Jackson’s people, Dieter Wiesner – but these were only exaggerations about how much Jackson was really there for him during his cancer or how much part he really played in his healing. However, on contrary with his and his brother’s earlier statements to the police, on the stand Gavin clearly stated that when they made the ”rebuttal video” they still felt that Jackson was a great person. Gavin also said that he had a good time at Neverland and did not give the impression they were intimidated by anything there:

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Okay. It wasn’t until you realized you were not going to be part of Michael Jackson’s family, you were not going to meet Michael Jackson in Brazil, you were not going to be going to Neverland, that you ever came up with these allegations of molestation, right?

A. I didn’t come and talk to the — to the — my mom always wanted to leave. She was the one that was able to realize and get us out of there. I liked being there. [2]

 and

Q. I see. So you went into town with Michael Jackson, correct?

A. Yeah. Michael took us to Toys R Us.

Q. You picked up some fans, correct, on the way?

A. Yeah, Michael invited some people into our – the thing.

Q. You never complained to anyone in the store or any of these fans that anyone was being held against their will, correct?

A. I was actually happy to be at Neverland all the time.

Q. And you were happy to go –

A. That’s something you don’t really understand, is that the majority of those times was — the first few escapes that you talk about, I liked being at Neverland. That was like Disneyland. I loved being there. I had lots of fun. I mean, my mom was the one always worried. It wasn’t until the last time that I realized “I don’t want to be here.”

Q. Your mother was worried, but she always came back, right? Right?

A. I guess so. [3]

These last two lines are a reference to the Arvizos’ claim that during their alleged “kidnapping” they “escaped” three times, but then they always returned.

The first alleged “escape” happened shortly after they returned from Miami on February 7. One night Janet Arvizo asked Jackson’s ranch manager, Jesus Salas to take them home to Los Angeles, which he did. Moreover according to Janet Arvizo’s own claims in her police interview on July 6-7, 2003, Marie Nicole Cascio assisted them in their “escape”:

“She described running in the dark through Neverland, being led by Marie Nicole, to find her way to the car. Mrs. Arvizo was unable to recall exact dates of events during this period. She stated that there were no clocks or calendars at Neverland and she would lose track of the date.” [1; page 25]

Marie Nicole Cascio is the sister of Frank Cascio, who allegedly was one of the main culprits in the Arvizos’ “kidnapping”.

According to the Arvizo family there were no clocks at Neverland...

According to the Arvizo family there were no clocks at Neverland…

Janet Arvizo explained her “escaping” with the fact that she did not like two of Jackson’s people, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, whom she called “the Germans”, and felt intimidated by them. After Frank Cascio promised her that the Germans would not be at Neverland any more, she and her children returned. However, the Germans were still at Neverland, so Janet Arvizo “escaped” again, this time on her own, leaving her children behind, asking Jackson’s bodyguard, Chris Carter to take her to Jay Jackson’s house, which he did.

Both of these alleged “escapes” happened within a couple of days after they returned from Miami on February 7. The third occasion that was characterized as an “escape” by Janet Arvizo was when the Arvizos left Neverland for good. Once again the “escape” was not met with resistance from Jackson’s people – in fact, Janet Arvizo just asked Vinnie Amen, Frank Cascio’s friend and closest colleague, one of the Arvizos’ alleged “kidnappers”, to take them to the home of Janet Arvizo’s parents and he did.

Jackson and his people apparently were suspicious of the Arvizos and of how they may use the media frenzy resulting from the Bashir documentary for their benefit. The media at this point tried to contact the Arvizos and Jackson already had experience with the practices of the tabloid media and what the temptation of tabloid money can make people claim (see this article). (Remember this is all before the Arvizos allege Jackson started to molest Gavin.) The fact that Jackson did not trust this family from the beginning is apparent from the fact that he tried to keep his distance from them, as described by even Gavin himself in Court.

Gavin’s mother, Janet Arvizo too complained about Jackson’s people keeping her away from the star during their stay at Neverland. The following exchange is from the testimony of Jesus Salas, a prosecution witness, who served as a housekeeper at Jackson’s Neverland ranch. The prosecutor tried to get Salas say that Janet Arvizo complained about her children being kept away from her, but Salas made it clear that the woman did not complain about her children, but about Jackson being kept away from her:

Q. You also said that Janet complained about being separated from Michael, that Dieter was separating her from Michael. Yes?

A. Yes. That was her expression, yes.
 
Q. Didn’t she say that she was — didn’t she complain that Dieter was separating her from Michael Jackson and her children?
 
A. Not exactly what she said. She said that she was being separated from Michael.
 
Q. Okay. But didn’t she reference her children when she was talking about that?
 
MR. MESEREAU: Objection; asked and answered.
 
THE COURT: Sustained.
 
Q. BY MR. AUCHINCLOSS: You say “not exactly.” What do you mean?
 
A. She never mentioned the kids.
 
Q. Did she ever complain about being separated from her kids?
 
A. No, sir. [9]

Not long after the Bashir documentary aired Jackson hired attorney, Mark Geragos. Bradley Miller, a private investigator working for Geragos, conducted and tape recorded an interview with Janet Arvizo in Jay Jackson’s home on February 16. On the tape Janet Arvizo does not mention she or her children being “kidnapped” or being held captive by either Jackson or his people, nor any other wrongdoing by Jackson. In fact she says nothing but nice things about him. In Court in 2005 Janet Arvizo said of that interview:

Q. All right. And you said nice things about Mr. Jackson, did you not?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And did you believe those things at that time?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. You would have said those things even if he hadn’t rewound the tape-recorder?

A. That’s right. [4]

Like said before, the Arvizos’ story changed over the course of the investigation. Initially they claimed that Jackson started molesting Gavin immediately after they returned from Miami on February 7. This is also represented in the prosecution’s initial felony complaint, filed on December 18, 2003 [5]. In interviews they gave to the police in 2003 the Arvizos claimed that they told nice things about Jackson in their interview with the DCFS and the “rebuttal video” (both on February 20) because they were under duress and intimidated by Jackson’s people.

However, with the emergence of the “rebuttal tape” that was shot of the Arvizo family by Hamid Moslehi, this claim became hard to defend, so the story later changed to the molestation starting only after February 20 – after the shooting of the “rebuttal video” and after the Arvizo’s interview with the DCFS. In the new version of their story, and this was the version they presented in Court, the Arvizos did not tell the DCFS simply because no molestation had happened yet on February 20 and not because they were intimidated by Jackson and/or his people, as they initially claimed.

It was not only the DCFS that started an investigation against Jackson because of the Bashir documentary. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department too launched an investigation in February 2003 based on a complaint by psychiatrist Dr. Carol Lieberman – again, because of the Bashir documentary. This investigation continued until April, 2003.

(Dr. Lieberman is the same psychiatrist who together with attorney and TV personality Gloria Allred also filed complaints against Jackson for the so called “baby dangling incident” and campaigned for Jackson’s children to be taken away from him. Then later in 2003 Allred represented a 18-year-old young men, Daniel Kapon, who claimed he had been sexually molested by Michael Jackson when he was a child. Kapon claimed he had “repressed memories” of the molestation and therefore only recently recalled the abuse. It was Dr. Lieberman who “helped” bring forth his “repressed memories”. During an investigation into the matter by the Santa Barbara Police Department it emerged that in reality Kapon never even met Jackson. For details about Kapon see this article.)

In the latest version of their story the Arvizos’ claim was that Jackson molested Gavin between February 20 and March 12, 2003 [6]. So the Arvizos’ story is that while all this was happening – public outrage because of the Bashir documentary, innuendo and allegations in the media about Jackson’s relationship with children – and specifically Gavin – as a result of the Bashir documentary, high media interest, tabloids trying to “hunt down” the Arvizo family, DCFS investigation, another investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Jackson’s PR and legal team working overtime on damage control because of the public relations backlash resulting from the Bashir documentary and its innuendo – all WHILE this is happening Jackson starts molesting Gavin Arvizo, even though for three years he has not touched him and obviously not even trusted him and his family. And even though he had not molested Gavin until all these investigations by the DCFS and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department started, but he started to molest him WHILE these investigations were ongoing. THIS is exactly what the Arvizo family claimed, this is exactly their story that you have to believe in order to believe their allegations! (Among several other problems with their case that we detail in separate articles.)

The Arvizos left Neverland for good on March 12, so according to their final version of the allegations Jackson molested Gavin between February 20 and March 12, 2003. In actuality, this period becomes even shorter when we know that between February 25 and March 2 the Arvizos were not at Neverland but stayed in a hotel in Calabasas. Moreover phone logs presented by the prosecution towards the end of the presentation of their side of the case inadvertently revealed that in early March Jackson stayed a few days at the Beverly Hilton hotel using the pseudonym Kenneth Morgan (as celebrities often use pseudonyms to avoid attention). From the logs it appears he was there at least on March 7-8, but possibly also on March 6, while the Arvizos were at Neverland. Based on the phone logs it also seems on February 20 Jackson was at the Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami, Florida. The testimony of Azja Pryor (Chris Tucker’s girlfriend at the time) confirms that Jackson was not at Neverland on February 20.

On February 21 Janet Arvizo first visited civil attorney William Dickerman. Janet Arvizo denied this in her testimony, but Dickerman in his own testimony stated they first met on February 21. Then they met again on February 25 – on this both testimonies agreed. This was during the Arvizos’ supposed “kidnap”, yet Janet Arvizo did not mention being kidnapped or being held captive to the lawyer on any occasion, nor did the lawyer report any such thing to any authority. According to Janet Arvizo she contacted Dickerman because she wanted him to stop the media from using her children’s likeness and photos in their publications and on their programs.

Around this time there were plans to take the Arvizos to Brazil for a vacation (possibly to keep them away from the media). This was later characterized by the Arvizos and the prosecution as an attempt to deport them, when in reality travel documents presented in Court showed that they were supposed to stay in Brazil for only a one week vacation. From Janet Arvizo’s cross-examination:

Q. Well, the itinerary says you’re leaving Los Angeles for Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 1st, 2003, right?

A. Okay.

Q. It says you’re returning from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Miami on March 6th, 2003, correct?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. And it says you’re leaving Miami for Los Angeles on March 7th, 2003, correct?

A. Uh-huh. [8]

According to the testimony of Azja Pryor, girlfriend of the actor Chris Tucker at the time, far from being forced, at the time Janet Arvizo was looking forward to the trip and even invited her:

Q. Did Janet ever mention a trip to Brazil to you?

A. Yes.

Q. What did she say?

A. She said that they –

MR. SNEDDON: I’ll object as hearsay.

MR. MESEREAU: Impeachment, Your Honor.

THE COURT: The objection’s overruled.

THE WITNESS: She said that they were going to Brazil for Carnival.

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: And what is Carnival, to your knowledge?

A. Beautiful costumes, beads. I guess it’s kind of like Mardi Gras.

Q. Kind of a holiday celebration, right?

A. A holiday celebration.

Q. Did she ever ask you to go with her?

A. Yes, she did.

Q. And when did Janet ask you to go to Brazil with her to attend Carnival?

A. During a phone conversation. It was sometime in February.

Q. Okay. And did you say anything in response to her invitation?

A. I said, “Sure, I’d love to go.”

Q. And did you ever talk to her about Brazil again?

A. Yeah, we talked a couple of times about Brazil.

Q. And did you talk about your going with her?

A. I’m sure — I’m sure I did. I told her I couldn’t go for too long. I was in school at the time, so I would only be able to be there for, like, three or four days.

Q. Did she say that was okay?

A. Yes. [7]

Eventually the whole trip was called off and never happened.

On March 2 the family went back again to Neverland and stayed there until March 12 when they left for good. Like mentioned above, this was characterized by Janet Arvizo in her 2005 testimony as their “final escape”. In actuality, according to Janet Arvizo’s own testimony, she told Frank Cascio on the phone that her parents were sick and she would like her children to see them. Then Vinnie Amen delivered them to their parents’ home and that was it. This was “the big escape”.

Sources:

[1] Statement of Probable Cause (filed by the Prosecution on November 17, 2003)
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[2] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 14, 2005)

[3] Gavin Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 15, 2005)

[4] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 13, 2005)

[5] The Prosecution’s original felony complaint (filed on December 18, 2003)121803complaint_initial charges

[6] Opening statements at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (February 28, 2005)

[7] Azja Pryor’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (May 19, 2005)

[8] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 18, 2005)

[9] Jesus Salas’ testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 4, 2005)

On March 24, 2003 Janet Arvizo formally hired William Dickerman as her attorney and Dickerman began writing letters to Jackson’s attorney, Mark Geragos on her behalf demanding the return of furniture, clothes, documents and various other items which were put in a storage locker after the Arvizos moved out of their Los Angeles apartment on March 1-2. The storage locker was rented in Bradley Miller’s name. There were numerous back and forth letters between the two attorneys about the issue of where and how the Arvizos would take possession of their belongings and who would pay the outstanding bill of the storage locker.

In his letters Dickerman also claimed that Jackson’s people harrassed and followed around the Arvizo family after they left Neverland. However, nowhere in his letters there are claims of child molestation, claims of false imprisonment or claims of providing alcohol to a minor. From William Dickerman’s cross-examination by Jackson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau:

Q. BY MR. MESEREAU: Nowhere in this letter of March 26th that you wrote to Mr. Geragos on behalf of the Arvizos is there any mention of alcohol, correct?

A. Correct. [1]

and

Q. Now, in this letter of March 26th to Mr. Geragos, there is no mention of the Arvizo family ever being falsely imprisoned, correct?

A. I believe that’s correct.

Q. And in this letter of March 26th to Attorney Mark Geragos, there’s no mention of the Arvizo family ever being kidnapped, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. In this letter of March 26th, 2003, to Mr. Geragos that you wrote, there’s no mention of any extortion, right?

A. I believe that’s correct. I haven’t read this word for word, but it sounds right.

Q. Okay. When you sent this letter to Mr. Geragos on March 26th, 2003, two days after you had been retained by the Arvizos, did you ever call the police to complain about false imprisonment, kidnapping, molestation or alcohol?

A. No. [1]

 and

Q. In that letter, you never mention anything about molestation, correct?

A. That’s correct. The only purpose of the letter was to get the items that I had written about before.

Q. In the April 3rd letter, 2003, you mention nothing about alcohol, correct?

A. That’s correct.

Q. You mention nothing about false imprisonment, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. You mention nothing about any alleged kidnapping, correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. You mentioning nothing about any alleged extortion, correct?

A. Correct. [1]

Dickerman never mentioned any such complaint in his verbal communication with Geragos either:

Q. Now, in all of these conversations you had with Mark Geragos on behalf of the Arvizos, at no time did you mention to him anything about child molestation, correct?

A. Well, I don’t think I had more than one or two conversations.

Q. And you never mentioned anything about child molestation, correct?

A. That’s correct. That wasn’t the purpose of the communication.

Q. You never mentioned anything about wine allegedly being given to any of the Arvizo children, correct?

A. Correct. There was no reason to do that. [1]

According to his own testimony, in early May of 2003 William Dickerman entered into a fee-sharing agreement with attorney, Larry Feldman. Feldman in his own testimony confirmed that they had fee-sharing agreement, although he suggested it came about a little bit later, (”not right at the beginning”), but he did not specify when.

Larry Feldman was the same civil attorney who negotiated the $15 million settlement for the Chandlers, the family of Jackson’s first accuser in 1993-94 . [For more details about the 1993 Jordan Chandler allegations please see the relevant section of our website.] According to the Arvizos’ later story at this time Gavin had not yet disclosed his alleged abuse to anyone, including his mother or Dickerman, so at this time there were no allegations of child sexual abuse by the Arvizos yet. So why would Dickerman refer them to the same attorney who dealt with the first child abuse allegation against Jackson in 1993-94? In his 2005 testimony he explained it this way:

Q. All right. Did you file a lawsuit on behalf of Janet Arvizo or her family?

A. No.

Q. At some point in time, did you refer this matter to another attorney?

A. Yes.

Q. All right. Who was that other attorney?

A. Larry Feldman.

Q. And why did you do that?

A. Excuse me. I began representing the Arvizos in February. And by the time I met with Mr. Feldman, it was the beginning of May. In that period of time I had learned a lot of things. There were a lot of allegations being made, and I realized that the best thing for my clients to do, and for me personally as their attorney, was to get some expert input as to matters of Michael Jackson. The initial things I didn’t think I really needed to do that with, but as things developed, I wanted to get some input. So I met with Mr. Feldman, whom, by the way, I knew — not “by the way.” It was very important. I knew that he was – by reputation, he was one of the top trial lawyers in California, if not the United States.
And actually, previously, not knowing him except by reputation, I had referred a case to him, tried to refer a case to him that I could not handle for various reasons of an old client of mine. And I knew that he was the go-to guy with regard to Michael Jackson matters. Of course, I knew about the 1993 case, so I met with him, with the idea of picking his brain, actually, not to refer any matters to him. And afterwards, he met with them, and they — we all associated together. The Arvizos hired both him and me.

Q. All right. Have you filed a lawsuit as of this time on behalf of the Arvizos or anybody else?

A. No.

Q. Is it the case that the extent of your dealings with them so far, in terms of your communicating with others, has been for purposes of getting their property returned or dealing with the consequences of “Living with Michael Jackson,” the documentary?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you have an understanding with Mr. Feldman that should there be a lawsuit in the future, that –

THE COURT: They’re not hearing you.

MR. ZONEN: I’m sorry?

THE COURT: Behind; these people can’t hear you.

MR. ZONEN: I’m terribly sorry.

Q. Is there an arrangement that, should there be a lawsuit in the future, that there would be compensation for you in any form of a settlement even if you’re not participating in that lawsuit? Do you know what I mean?

A. Well, we have an agreement.

Q. Okay.

A. It doesn’t say anything about participation or not. We were retained together, and I have a fee-sharing arrangement with Mr. Feldman.

Q. Which means what?

A. Which means I will get — if there is such a lawsuit anytime in the future, that I will be entitled to a sliding scale, depending on whether there’s a settlement or a judgment.

Q. Okay. What kind of lawsuit do you anticipate?

A. I don’t anticipate any lawsuit. My understanding is that there isn’t one in the offing. Nobody’s talking about one. And I suppose if there were to be one — well, that would be speculation. [1]

It is not clear what Dickerman refers to when he says: “In that period of time I had learned a lot of things. There were a lot of allegations being made”, because according to the Arvizos’ own story they had not disclosed anything about alleged child sexual abuse to Dickerman at that point yet. The claim is that they contacted Dickerman to get back their stuff from the storage locker, to stop alleged harassment by Jackson’s people and to deal with the Arvizos’ issues with the media – i.e. writing letters to various media outlets to make them stop using the Arvizos’ photos and footage from the Martin Bashir documentary, unless they could show that the Arvizos had given their legal consent.

In the above extract Dickerman says: “And I knew that he was the go-to guy with regard to Michael Jackson matters. Of course, I knew about the 1993 case, so I met with him, with the idea of picking his brain, actually, not to refer any matters to him.”

Feldman previously dealt with only one case regarding Michael Jackson and that was the allegations of child sexual abuse by the Chandler family in 1993. There is no other claim for him being “the go-to guy with regard to Michael Jackson matters”. But we are supposed to believe that Dickerman contacted him just to help him get back some old furniture from a storage locker or to help him write letters to the media? Because remember, this was all happening BEFORE Gavin first made allegations of sexual abuse against Michael Jackson.

After being referred to Feldman by Dickerman, Feldman sent the Arvizos to Dr. Stanley Katz, a psychologist whose field is child sexual abuse. Moreover, Dr. Katz is the same psychologist who evaluated Jordan Chandler in 1993 and with whom Larry Feldman first worked together in 1987. Dr. Katz was formerly also involved in the highly controversial McMartin preschool trial. He was the Director of Training and Professional Education at the Children’s Institute International (CII). Kee McFarlane, who initially interviewed the McMartin children, worked under him. On cross-examination at Jackson’s 2005 trial, Dr. Katz testified that he did the assessments of the McMartin children. [2] The CII’s role in the McMartin case has been widely criticized in professional circles. Their interviewing techniques are considered coercive and manipulative which may lead children make false allegations about sexual abuse. [3]

Again, keep in mind that the claim is that the Arvizos were sent to Feldman regarding the storage locker, the alleged harassment and the media issues. Gavin testified in 2005 that the first person he ever made his allegations to was Dr. Katz and that he did not make any such allegations to either Dickerman, Feldman or his mother. Yet, he was sent to the same lawyer who negotiated a $15 million settlement for the Chandler family in 1993 in a child molestation lawsuit and this lawyer then sends him to a child abuse psychologist – the same one who also evaluated the 1993 accuser.

In his testimony Feldman claimed that Dr. Katz reported his findings to him in a verbal conversation in his office. Next Feldman called the Arvizo family back in his office to tell them about it. This is yet another contradiction among the many contradictions in the Arvizos’ story, because according to Janet Arvizo she had not learnt about her son’s alleged abuse until September 2003 when the police informed her about it after talking to her children. It actually does not make much sense that a child is sent to a psychologist who is a child abuse expert and the parent would not be informed of the alleged findings of that interview until months later, nor would she enquire about them.

From Feldman’s testimony:

Q. At some point in time, did you receive a report back from Dr. Katz about his initial contacts with the family?

A. Oral. I got an oral — I had an oral conversation with him.

Q. Do you recall whether it was in person or over the phone?

A. I think it was in person, quite frankly. I think he came to my office.

Q. Now, after you received this report, did you do anything?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do?

A. I called the Arvizo family, Mrs. Arvizo and the three children, back into my office for a meeting.

Q. All right. And in that meeting, what was the topic discussed?

MR. MESEREAU: Objection to the extent it calls for hearsay.

MR. SNEDDON: All right.

THE COURT: Overruled. The subject matter only.

THE WITNESS: The subject matter only. The subject matter was the options — well, what Dr. Katz had told me, and their — the options that existed at that point for that family. Different courses of action that were available to them at that point in time. [4]

Now we have four different versions by the accusing side about how and when Janet Arvizo found out about the alleged abuse of her son:

1) According to the prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause (November 17, 2003) in her initial interview with Sgt. Steve Robel on July 6-7, 2003 Janet Arvizo claimed that their sons disclosed to her the alleged abuse after February or March, 2003:

“These disclosures were made to her after February or March of this year [2003]. She explained that she would interrupt and tell Star and Gavin to “forgive and forget”. She did this because she thought she was doing the right thing. She wanted Star and Gavin to make the disclosures to a priest or someone else. She has since learned that this was wrong of her to do.” [5; page 23]

On the stand in 2005 Janet Arvizo claimed that at the time she was not aware that either of her sons were molested, she was only “aware of things”, however, in the prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause document (November 17, 2003) it is clearly claimed that in February-March, 2003 her sons disclosed accounts of molestation to Janet Arvizo (eg. Jackson allegedly “moving his hips against Gavin” in bed while they were supposedly in bed together, Jackson allegedly touching Star’s private parts etc. – see page 22-23 of the referenced document [5]).

2) The very same prosecution document later contains a totally different version of how and when Janet Arvizo learnt about the alleged molestation of her son:

It is important to note that during the course of the two interviews detailed in this affidavit, Mrs. Arvizo was not aware that Gavin has been molested. She believed the focus of our investigation was the family’s having been held against their wishes at the Neverland Ranch upon their return from Miami and their escape in March. Mrs. Arvizo (sic) told your Affiant she had contacted an attorney to help get their possessions back and to set up contacts with law enforcement to report what had happened to them. She emphasized she was not interested in money.

Your affiant is aware through a conversation with Sgt. Robel that around 5:00 p.m. on September 30, 2003, that Sgt. Robel, Lt. Klapakis and District Attorney Tom Sneddon met with Mrs. Arvizo and her family in a Los Angeles hotel and informed her that our conversations with her children had established that Gavin had been molested. This was the first time she was aware of the nature of her children’s disclosures to law enforcement.” [5; page 64]

3) On contrary with both versions in the prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause Larry Feldman in his testimony in 2005 then provided a third version when he said after sending the Arvizo family to Dr. Stanley Katz in June 2003 he called them back to his office and discussed Dr. Katz’s findings with them and what kind of legal actions were available to them at that time.

4) As mentioned above, in March-April 2003 attorney William Dickerman wrote letters to Jackson’s attorney, Mark Geragos regarding the issue of returning the Arvizos’ items from a storage locker. In those letters Dickerman never makes any allegation of child molestation, false imprisonment or providing alcohol to a minor. When asked about this on the stand by Jackson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, this is what Janet Arvizo had to say:

Q. In none of his letters did he ever mention anything about alcohol or child molestation, true?

A. Because that was information for these guys right here, for the police.

Q. How many months later?

A. Because I didn’t want Geragos to know that we were headed towards — straight to the police. [6]

So this is yet another version, in which they do not mention alleged molestation in those letters dated March-April, 2003, not because Janet Arvizo was not aware of it at the time yet, but because they were preserving that information for the police. Here we have to add, however, that they did not go “straight to the police” in March-April 2003, but they went to civil attorney Larry Feldman in May 2003 – like we have described above.

This is just one of the many contradictions in the Arvizos’ allegations. Others are discussed in detail in a separate article.

Although Feldman represented the Arvizos, in a private conversation with television and radio host Larry King, shortly before Jackson’s trial began, Feldman admitted to King that he did not believe them, that he felt they only wanted money and that the mother was a ”whacko”. King testified about it at Jackson’s trial but due to the hearsay nature of his testimony the jury was not allowed to be present and to take his testimony into consideration. Earlier in April in his own testimony, Larry Feldman denied making these remarks to Larry King.

It should be also noted that the California law that allowed the Chandlers to push the civil trial ahead of the criminal trial in 1993-94 was changed since – according to Santa Barbara District Attorney, Thomas Sneddon directly because of what happened in the Chandler case. [Details see in our article about Jackson’s settlement with the Chandler family.] Because of this change, an accuser in a sexual assault case cannot pursue a civil lawsuit right away. The new law restricts a civil trial from preceding a criminal trial.

It is for this reason that the Arvizos could not use the same strategy as what the Chandlers did in 1993. They had no choice but to begin a criminal trial first. And if they had won the criminal case that could have been used to secure an automatic win for them in a civil court too, as we have learnt from the cross-examination of William Dickerman by Thomas Mesereau:

Q. But you certainly know that if someone has a judgment of a criminal conviction against them for sexual assault, you can use that in a civil court to establish liability and not have to incur the expenses and the time involved in a trial on liability, right?

A. I would assume that to be the case.

Q. The only issue at that point would be how much money you get in a civil courtroom, correct?

A. I don’t know if there are other issues, but I think as the judgment, that’s true of any criminal action, that you don’t then have to go, once again, and prove exactly what was proved with a higher burden of proof. [1]

Larry Feldman’s testimony under cross-examination confirmed this:

Q. Isn’t it true that a judgment of conviction in a criminal case for anything related to child molestation could be dispositive in a parallel civil suit alleged for the same facts?

A. As long as it’s a felony conviction, that’s right.

Q. In other words, if Mr. Jackson were convicted of felony child molestation in this case, either Gavin Arvizo or Star Arvizo could use that conviction to essentially win a civil case regarding similar alleged facts against Mr. Jackson?

A. That’s correct.

Q. If there were a conviction for felony child molestation in this case, and if Star or Gavin elected to sue in a civil case based on the similar alleged facts of sexual abuse, essentially the only issue remaining would be how much money you get, correct?

A. Probably. I think that’s — it’s close enough. I mean, nothing is that simple, as just stated. You know it as well as I. But essentially I think that’s what would happen. [4]

Whatever Larry Feldman privately thought of the Arvizos, on June 13, 2003 he called Lieutenant Jeff Klapakis at the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office and reported to him Gavin’s allegations. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office was not new to the case. Like mentioned earlier they were already investigating Jackson since February 2003 and their investigation started before the alleged molestations even happened according to the Arvizos’ final timeline. Klapakis was personally involved in that investigation since the beginning.

In July-September, 2003 investigators conducted several interviews with Gavin, Star, Davellin and Janet Arvizo. These interviews contain several contradictions with each other, as well as with the later versions of the Arvizos’ story. We address those and other contradictions of the Arvizos’ allegations in a separate article.

According to Larry Feldman’s testimony in about August, September or October of 2003 (he was not sure of the exact month) he wrote a letter to the Arvizos saying he was not going to represent them. However, from his testimony we have learnt that later he and his law firm did represent various members of the family in related and other matters. For example, in 2004 on behalf of the Arvizos he filed a claim with the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, seeking monetary damages, because the DCFS’s report from February 20, 2003 got leaked to the public.

On November 18, 2003 an arrest warrant was issued for Michael Jackson based on Gavin Arvizo’s allegations. Jackson at the time was in Las Vegas, but at the news of his arrest he returned to California and turned himself in. He was then released on a 3 million dollar bail. The same day, in Jackson’s absence, 70 sheriffs raided his home, the Neverland Ranch, to carry out a search warrant.

The Prosecution’s Statement of Probable Cause (November 17, 2003) document, on which the search and arrest warrants were based, reasoned the request for the warrants as follows:

“The mere fact of forty-five-year-old Jackson’s three-year-long interest in the adolescent Gavin is corroborating in itself; it would strike a reasonable person as grossly abnormal. So is the way that interest manifested itself: endless telephone conversations with the youngster, inappropriate and relatively public touching, kissing, licking and cuddling of him; expensive gifts, cross-country flights, the relocation of the family from their modest quarters in Los Angeles, his efforts to have them take up residence in Brazil.” [5; page 66]

As you have seen above in reality Jackson did not have a “three-year-long interest in the adolescent Gavin” and “endless telephone conversations with the youngster”. In actuality, Gavin himself complained on the stand that Jackson was actively avoiding him during those three years and did not take and return his phone calls. The so called “inappropriate, public touching, kissing, licking and cuddling” was conveniently always only observed by other members of the Arvizo family and there were no independent witnesses to confirm them.

As for expensive gifts, Jackson was generous with everyone – children and adults alike. The only cross-country flight (there were no cross-country flights in plural) took place on February 5-6 where the Arvizo family, including the mother, was invited to Miami for a press conference which eventually was called off (see above) and the claim about an attempt to relocate the family, to have them “take up residence in Brazil” is also a gross misrepresentation of what really happened (again see earlier in this article).

The case went to Court in 2005 and Jackson was found not guilty on all charges on June 13, 2005. We will discuss the details of the case in separate articles.

Sources:

[1] William Dickerman’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 30, 2005)

[2] Dr. Stanley Katz’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (March 30, 2005)

[3] See for example:
– Learning From the McMartin Hoax (1989)
http://www.ipt-forensics.com/journal/volume1/j1_2_7.htm
– Suggestive interviewing in the McMartin Preschool and
Kelly Michaels daycare abuse cases: A case study (5 May, 2005)
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=james_wood

[4] Larry Feldman’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 1, 2005)

[5] Statement of Probable Cause (filed by the Prosecution on November 17, 2003)
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[6] Janet Arvizo’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 18, 2005)

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Ray Chandler’s Subpoena in 2004

The 1994 settlement between Michael Jackson and the Chandler family forbade the signing parties from speaking to the media and/or publicly about the allegations. However, book publisher, Judith Regan disclosed to SiriusXM radio the fact that Evan’s brother, Raymond Chandler was shopping a book to her shortly after the settlement was signed:

“I received a call from Jordan’s uncle. He wanted to do a book in which he would describe in detail the allegation of molestation against Michael Jackson. So I asked him how he proposed to do this given the fact that the Chandlers had actually signed a confidentiality agreement and taken $20mln. And he said that Jordan’s father had given him all the information he needed for the book and he believed he was outside the bounds of the Confidentiality agreement because he would be the author. At the time I had the impression that the Chandlers were brazen opportunists and I found the entire proposal by the uncle to be distasteful. They enter a Confidentiality agreement and before the ink is even dry they are shopping a deal that violates this agreement?”[1]

Evan's brother, Raymond Chandler

Evan’s brother, Raymond Chandler

That Ray Chandler was indeed shopping a book “within days” after the settlement was signed, is confirmed by none other than Ray Chandler himself in a Motion he filed with the Santa Barbara Court on October 25, 2004. The Motion was filed in response to a subpoena filed by Jackson’s defense which will be discussed in detail below. In it, Ray Chandler argued that his intent had always been to disseminate the information he gathered from his brother and nephew, which made him an Investigative Journalist and therefore afforded him the protection of the Shield Law, which would prevent him from being compelled to present his alleged evidence in court. “The California Shield Law provides legal protection for journalists seeking to maintain the confidentiality of an unnamed source or unpublished information obtained during newsgathering.”[2]

In support of his claim that he should be protected by the Shield Law Ray Chandler disclosed in that Motion [3; page 8]:

“Within days after Jordan Chandler’s civil lawsuit against Michael Jackson was settled in January, 1994, Raymond Chandler traveled to New York City to seek a publisher for the purpose of putting the information he had gathered in the form of a non-fiction book for dissemination to the public. Such intent on the part of Raymond Chandler is evidenced by an article that appeared in the New York Post revealing his contact with a publisher one day after it occurred.” [3]

In the attached article to the Motion the publisher named is indeed Judith Regan [3; page 41].

Ray Chandler, in making his claim that he should be protected by the Shield Law states in the Motion that he traveled to Los Angeles “within two days after the Michael Jackson child molestation scandal became public in August of 1993″ [3; page 8] and from late August through December of 1993 lived in the Los Angeles home of Evan and Jordan Chandler with the intent of gathering information about the molestation allegations and then publicly disseminating that information [3; page 13].

Ray Chandler’s Motion makes it clear that from the very beginning of the child molestation scandal the Chandlers planned to publish a book about it. Please take note of this fact when you consider the Chandlers’ arguments as to why they did not want to testify against Jackson in a criminal court. They claimed they wanted to move on with their lives and not subject Jordan to media spotlight and the scrutiny that would have been unavoidable in a high profile case. They also claimed they received several death threats from Michael Jackson fans and since Los Angeles District Attorney, Gil Garcetti refused to put the family into the Witness Protection Program, they were afraid for their lives.

However, it seems the Chandlers were alright with being in the media spotlight to promote their book and discuss the allegations contained in that book (as opposed to moving on with their lives). They even were apparently willing to accept the risk of potentially being threatened by Michael Jackson fans further because of that book and the allegations contained therein, although it was unacceptable to testify in a criminal court and subject themselves to cross-examination about these very allegations.

Ray Chandler eventually published his book entitled All That Glitters in September of 2004 at the height of the media frenzy caused by the Arvizo allegations lodged against Jackson. The book quotes Evan excessively and relies heavily on his account of the events which allegedly occurred in 1993. Ray Chandler also made his rounds in the media in 2003-2005, giving superficial interviews where no hardball questions were asked and appearing in biased documentaries. Additionally, he set-up what is now a defunct website specifically about the Chandlers’ allegations against Jackson.

The website claimed to have published documents which would “prove” Jackson’s guilt but in reality, the documents only re-stated the Chandlers’ and their legal representatives’ allegations, allegations which were never cross-examined or proven.

Additionally, according to Geraldine Hughes, who was employed as a legal secretary for Barry Rothman, the Chandlers’ attorney during the 1993 allegations, some of the documents on Ray Chandler’s website even appeared to be forgeries. Case in point, correspondence between Rothman and other parties appearing on the website bear the signature of the parties and initials of the secretary who typed them. However, Geraldine Hughes stated to the MJEOL website that although they bear her initials as the typist, she never typed some of those documents. Additionally, she stated some signatures bore little resemblance to Rothman’s and one document was posted unsigned. Hughes told to MJEOL:

“When I review the documents that he [Ray Chandler] has on his website, I am convinced that several of the documents, even though they bear my initials as the typist, I DID NOT TYPE THAT PARTICULAR DOCUMENT. Several of these documents have been manufactured and are not even bearing the correct signature of my attorney Barry Rothman.” [4]

Here are the signatures as they appeared on the documents published on Ray Chandler’s website:

signatures-of-rothman

In addition to Ray Chandler being very active in the media before and during Jackson’s 2005 trial, he also appeared in several interviews in and around 1998 in connection with a lawsuit his brother, Evan brought against Jackson regarding the 1995 Diane Sawyer interview [for details see this article].

It should be noted that the only Chandler ever to testify in a court and be subjected to cross-examination regarding their allegations against Michael Jackson was Jordan’s mother, June Chandler. On April 11, 2005 June Chandler testified as a prosecution witness in regards to the time her son spent with Jackson in 1993. June Chandler was asked about the details of the legal proceedings afterwards but during the trial she never testified that she witnessed molestation or any inappropriate touching. She also told the court that she had not seen Jordan for 11 years. (Jordan legally emancipated himself from both of his parents in 1995.)

The rest of the Chandler family, including Jordan himself, never testified against Jackson in a court of law  and were never cross-examined . As we discuss in detail in our article about the settlement, only a civil case can be settled out of court and no settlement can prohibit any party from testifying in a criminal court. In actuality, in 1994 the criminal investigation went on even after the settlement and the prosecution tried hard to convince the Chandlers to testify in a criminal court and though they could have they were unwilling. In actuality, Santa Barbara Disttrict Attorney, Thomas Sneddon even extended the statue of limitations in the Chandler case, so Jordan Chandler could have decided to testify against Jackson in a criminal court basically at any time he had wanted, but he was unwilling. [5]

During the 2005 People vs. Jackson trial, the prosecution once again attempted to get Jordan Chandler to testify on the stand in support of their case but Jordan, just as his uncle, Ray Chandler, once again declined. Instead of presenting evidence and testifying for the prosecution against Jackson in court, Ray Chandler chose to write a book, give interviews to the media and post questionable documents on his website; all this, despite being given the opportunity to testify against Jackson by none other than Jackson’s defense!

Court documents from 2004 reveal that on September 19, 2004, just a week after Ray Chandler released his book to the public, he was served with a Subpoena Duces Tecum (a request for the production of evidence) and a Trial Subpoena (a demand for personal appearance at trial and the production of documents) by Jackson’s defense. Since Ray Chandler alleged in his book, in television interviews and on his website that he had evidence of Jackson’s guilt, the entertainer’s defense wanted him to appear before the court, produce that evidence and subject himself to cross-examination. However, Ray Chandler, rather than take this opportunity to help finally convict a person he alleged had molested his nephew, instead fought tooth and nail against the subpoena.

An objection was filed with the Santa Barbara Court by Ray Chandler’s lawyers, Herb Fox and Peter Bezek, on October 25, 2004:

http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/102504verobjsnonpty.pdf

The document objects to the Subpoena Duces Tecum filed by Jackson’s defense on September 19, 2004. The subpoena requested that Ray Chandler produce “all documents constituting, evidencing, concerning, discussing or mentioning” the alleged relationship between Michael Jackson and Jordan Chandler; all documents of communication between Ray Chandler and any other person discussing Michael Jackson; all documents of communication between Ray Chandler and enforcement agency, governmental entity, police personnel, Sheriff’s personnel, Child Protective Services where Michael Jackson or Jordan Chandler has been mentioned; all documents of communication between Ray Chandler and Jordan Chandler, and between Ray Chandler and Evan Chandler concerning the allegations against Michael Jackson; all documents and interview recordings concerning or relating to Ray Chandler’s book, All That Glitters; and all documents concerning the printing, distribution, promotion or sale of the book. Additionally there were two requests made about Ray Chandler’s assumed connection to a public relations agency, Tellem Worldwide, which also had the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office among their clients. [6]

Ray Chandler objected to all of these requests based on the following arguments: the request is either “overboard and burdensome”, or the “documents are public documents readily available to the Defendant”, or “to the extent that any of these documents are unpublished they are protected from compelled production by the journalists’ Shield Law”, or producing the documents “will not reasonably lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” or are “irrelevant to the issues in this case” or the request is “an invasion of privacy”. [6]

In his Motion Ray Chandler admitted that the majority of his documents are magazine articles and court pleadings. To the point where Ray Chandler was requested to provide all documents of communication between him and any enforcement agency, governmental entity, police personnel, Sheriff’s personnel, Child Protective Services where Michael Jackson or Jordan Chandler has been mentioned, the Motion answered: “Raymond Chandler objects to producing these documents on the ground that they are not relevant to the subject matter at hand in that none of these documents contain any information regarding any claims of child molestation or defenses to such claims.” [6]

For details please see the above referenced document which is seven pages long and for even more details of how Ray Chandler objected to the subpoena see the 70 paged Motion drafted by his lawyers, which was likewise filed on October 25, 2004 with the Santa Barbara Court: http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/102504nommot3rdpty.pdf

In this longer document, Ray Chandler’s lawyers also argue that the the Court has not yet ruled on the admissibility of the 1993 allegations, therefore “it is not yet known” if Chandler’s book, tapes and the documents upon which the book is based are relevant to the instant criminal prosecution. [3]

Although the Court had indeed not yet ruled on the admissibility of the 1993 allegations at the time, the prosecutors were working in the direction of trying to get those allegations introduced, including contacting Jordan Chandler in September of 2004. Jordan not only told them he was not interested in testifying against Jackson, according to Jackson’s FBI files released after the singer’s death in 2009, he also advised the prosecutors that “he would legally fight any attempt” to make him testify against Jackson [7]. Additionally, Jackson’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau stated in an interview that had Jordan Chandler come in to testify in 2005, he had witnesses prepared to testify that Jordan privately admitted to them that Jackson never molested or touched him inappropriately [8].

We do not know whether Ray Chandler knew about this or not but had the Chandlers wanted the 1993 allegations introduced in 2005 and discussed in court in detail, they could have had them introduced simply by agreeing to testify. Of course, at this time they would have also been subject to cross-examination for the first time.

In actuality, even with Jordan’s and Ray’s refusal to testify, the 1993 allegations eventually were introduced to court in 2005 through the so called “prior bad acts” provision. However, Ray Chandler did not testify and did not subject himself, his claims or his alleged evidence to cross-examination even then.

In the 70 paged long Motion, Ray Chandler’s lawyers also request, should the Court decline to grant their Motion to quash the Subpoena Duces Tecum, that the Court review the documents (which according to them “include several thousand pages of newspaper and magazine clippings, copies of deposition transcripts and court pleadings, and approximately six to eight hours of tape recordings” [3]) in camera “to determine which documents, if any, should be provided to the Defendant for review and copying” [3]. In camera literally means “in chambers” and it “refers to a hearing or inspection of documents that takes places in private, often in a Judge’s chambers” [9]. It allows the judge to review the documents in private, with the exclusion of spectators and jurors, before determining its admissibility in open court.

In answer to Ray Chandler’s objection to the subpoena, in a Motion filed on November 5, 2004, Jackson’s defense argued that Ray Chandler was not a journalist since he was not engaged “in any news gathering activities as a reporter, editor, publisher or person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication”. Therefore, it was argued, “he is not entitled to protection under the Shield law”, and that he is a witness to the 1993-94 events who cannot withhold unpublished information [10]. For details see the document here: http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/110504mjoppmotchandsub.pdf

On November 8, 2004 Ray Chandler’s lawyers filed an Answer in which Ray Chandler stated he was the owner of Windsong Press, the company which published his book, All That Glitters and therefore again, protected by the Shield Law. He also stated he was not an eyewitness to the alleged crimes in 1993 [11]. For details see the document here: http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/1108043rdptyrcrepdftopp.pdf

Eventually the Judge decided that Chandler was indeed protected by the Shield law and so he did not have to present his documents in court and did not have to testify.

From our point of view whether Ray Chandler technically was really a journalist or not and entitled to be protected by the Shield law is a side issue. The more important point is the fact that Ray Chandler was not at all willing to testify against Jackson, to present his alleged evidence against him in a court of law or do anything at all to help convict the alleged molester of his nephew. In actuality, he vehemently fought against repeating his allegations in a court of law and having this alleged evidence subjected to cross-examination. Instead he chose to make those allegations in a book, on his website and in media interviews he gave. The above documents also demonstrate that, ironically, it was Jackson’s defense who fought to bring Ray Chandler and his alleged evidence to court.

Sources:

[1] Judith Regan on Michael Jackson Molestation Allegations on SIRIUS XM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQYeNfHVBtM&feature=player_embedded

[2] Protecting Unpublished Information and Confidential Sources (thefirstamendment.org)
http://www.thefirstamendment.org/shieldlaw.html

[3] Notice of motion and motion of third party Raymond Chandler to quash subpoenas and/or in camera review; authorities; declaration of Raymond Chandler (October 25, 2004)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/102504nommot3rdpty.pdf

[4] Hughes Responds to Ray Chandler – MJEOL Bullet #197
http://site2.mjeol.com/mjeol-bullet/hughes-responds-to-ray-chandler-mjeol-bullet-197.html

[5] Broadcast News (BN) February 15, 2001
“Sneddon tells the New York Daily News the case against Jackson was never closed and it can be re-opened at any time. He says the statute of limitations hasn’t run out because Jackson was living out of the country for so much time.”

[6] Verified objections by non party Raymond Chandler to Defendant’s Subpoena Duces Tecum (October 25, 2004)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/102504verobjsnonpty.pdf

[7] Jackson’s FBI files as released in 2009
http://vault.fbi.gov/Michael%20Jackson/Michael%20Jackson%20305%20File%20Part%201%20of%201/view (page 4)

[8] Michael Jacskon was Innocent – Tom Mesereau talks about how Jordan Chandler Lies
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eSC997_HH0

[9] In camera (The Lectric Law Library)
http://www.lectlaw.com/def/i018.htm

[10] Mr.Jackson’s opposition to motion to quash Chandler subpoena and declaration of counsel (November 5, 2004)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/110504mjoppmotchandsub.pdf

[11] Third party, Raymond Chandler’s reply to defendant’s opposition to motion to quash (November 8, 2004)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/1108043rdptyrcrepdftopp.pdf

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Jason Francia

Jason Francia

Jason Francia at Jackson’s 2005 trial

As discussed it in this article despite an extensive and costly investigation, the prosecution still struggled to find corroborating victims to support the Chandlers’ allegations. In 1993 police officers interviewed 40-60 children who had either spent time with Jackson or at his Neverland Ranch. None of the children corroborated the accuser’s story. They all told authorities that they had never been molested by the star and he had never done anything inappropriate to them.

In desperation, the prosecution engaged in questionable tactics, which are detailed in the above mentioned article, but that still did not result in the discovery of more alleged victims, with the exception of one boy: Jason Francia. He was the only young man whom the prosecution was able to put on the stand in support of the Arvizo allegations at Jackson’s 2005 trial as well.

Jason Francia is the son of Blanca Francia, a maid who worked for Jackson between 1986 and 1991.

When the police first interviewed Jason Francia in 1993, the only boy claiming abuse by Jackson was the original accuser, Jordan Chandler. The police interviewed dozens of children but could not find any other child willing to corroborate the Chandlers’ claims, despite the investigators engaging in questionable methods. This is how they got to Blanca Francia’s then 13-year-old son, Jason, on November 4, 1993 and then again on March 24, 1994. It was the police who initiated the contact, Blanca and Jason Francia never turned to authorities.

To the police, Jason Francia initially denied that Jackson had ever done anything inappropriate to him. He said: “I’ll just say this out flat. I don’t remember him trying anything with me except for the tickling” [1]. When the police pressured him to “remember” wrongdoings by Jackson, he maintained: “If I don’t remember, I don’t remember” [1].

At Jackson’s 2005 trial, Jason claimed that he initially denied impropriety because of embarrassment. However, audio tapes and the police transcripts of his 1993-94 interviews reveal how investigators pressured and lead him to create  allegations against the star. In a Motion in opposition to the DA’s Motion For Admission Of Alleged Prior Offenses, Jackson’s defense classified these interviews as “textbook examples of improperly suggestive interrogations” [2].

A paper written by Kenneth E. Blackstone, a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners International and an expert of sexual offense investigation explains how interviewing methods can make a child’s testimony tainted and unreliable, leading to false allegations. On page 11-12 of his paper The Fallibility of Forensic Interviewing, Blackstone lists nine factors which raise suspicion of improper interrogations techniques that can lead to false allegations. Those factors are:

  • Absence of spontaneous recall;
  • Interviewer bias against defendant – a preconceived idea of what the child should be disclosing;
  • Repeated leading questions;
  • Multiple interviews;
  • Incessant questioning;
  • Vilification of defendant;
  • Ongoing contact with peers and references to their statements;
  • Use of threats, bribes and cajoling; and
  • Failure to videotape or otherwise document the initial interview sessions.

[3]

Eight of those nine factors (1-8) can be observed in the interrogations of Jason Francia.

For example, on November 4, 1993, in a police interview, Francia told investigators he did not remember Jackson ever putting his hand anywhere that made him feel uncomfortable. Detective Vincent Neglia was not satisfied with that answer and made it very clear what answer he would be satisfied with, by suggesting to the boy that his memories were wrong and blatantly suggesting what he should “remember”:

 “Det. Neglia: Okay, but what I am getting at is that maybe I am not being obvious enough. What I am saying is maybe he put his hands someplace on you where he shouldn’t have. Maybe he put his hands on you someplace that made you feel uncomfortable. And that’s why you are not remembering. It’s like there is a little bit of “Oh, I can’t remember that guy’s name and I don’t remember his last name, and I just don’t remember that. No I don’t want to remember that, no I can’t remember.” It’s a little of bit of a different kind of not remembering, one is because you are choosing not to, and one is that you just can’t call back the uh, the event. And I think of what you doing is tickling and all this stuff, is trying forcing yourself not to remember. And you also kind of got to the one where you’re saying that fourth time at the party you said something like, “That was the time.” What time was it Jason: What was the time?“ [2]

At other times during the interviews investigators lied to the boy and said that other boys, such as Macaulay Culkin, had been molested by Jackson and the only way they could rescue them was if Jason said incriminating things about Jackson.

“Det. Neglia: I realize how hard this is. I realize how painful it is to think of these things you tried so hard not to think about but you are doing fine. And you are also helping the kid that he is bothering now.

Jason Francia: What do you mean he’s bothering?

Det. Birchim: He’s doing the same thing.

Jason Francia: Macaulay Culkin.

Det. Neglia: Only he’s getting a lot more into it. Like your mother pulled you out of there. Macaulay’s mother is not going to pull him out of there. They are feeding him.

Det. Birchim: He’s doing worse stuff.

Det. Neglia: It’s much worse with him.” [2]

They claimed Corey Feldman had drug problems because Jackson molested him:

“Det. Neglia: He’s a junkie now, he gets arrested, he doesn’t act or anything. He gets high. He packs his nose with cocaine and he’s going to die by the time he is 22 years old.

Jason Francia: How old is he?

Det. Neglia: About 21. But that’s the kind of life he is living, and it’s got to do with being exposed to people like this, and having nobody to protect them and to take them out.

Det. Birchim: Like you had your mom.

Det. Neglia: Like your mom pulled you out, and you’re, you’re candid, and you’re (sic) honesty with us is going to help us. To pull the next kid out, it might even be too late for Macauly (sic) already. But these kids that he’s traveling with are on tour right now. Maybe we can pull them out of it… “ [2]

Both Culkin and Feldman stated very firmly to authorities and the public alike that Jackson never molested them and never touched them in an inappropriate way.

The investigators referred to Jackson as a “molester”[1] in their interviews with Francia, even though they did not have any evidence against him. They also used derogatory profanity against Jackson, for example, saying: “he makes great music, he’s a great guy, bullshit” [1]. At one point, after the investigators told Francia what they thought Jackson did to him, the boy said “Well, I’ll have to work on that” [1]. In one of the interviews Francia said: “They [the interrogators] made me come out with a lot more stuff I didn’t want to say. They kept pushing. I wanted to get up and hit them in the head” [1]. In the second interview, on March 24, 1994 Francia indicated he was aware of the fact that another boy (Jordan Chandler) had sued Jackson for money [1].

In his 1993-94 interviews, after initially denying any wrongdoing by Jackson, Jason Francia gave in to the pressure. Case in point, in 2005, while under cross-examination by Jackson’s lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, he admitted that he said things in those interviews because he “was trying to figure out how to get out of there” [1]:

Q. Remember telling the police, “You guys are pushy”?

A. Yeah. I remember telling the police that.

Q. Okay. And after they kept pushing you, you finally said, “You know, I think he did tickle me,”right?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember that? Do you remember at first saying you didn’t know, and then after –

A. Yeah, I remember saying at first, “I don’t know.”

Q. And after telling the police, “You guys are pushy,” you eventually finally said, “Yes, he tickled me,” right?

A. I believe that’s how it went.

Q. Okay. You kind of went back and forth during the interview, didn’t you? One second you’d say, “He tickled me,” and the next second you’d say you’re not sure, right?

A. I was trying to figure out how to get out of there.

Q. I understand. And you remember exactly how you felt in 1993 during the interview, right?

A. The feeling of, yeah, crying and crappiness. [1]

It was also revealed that after the police’s first interrogation of Jason Francia in 1993 he was sent for therapy with a counselor by the name of Mike Craft. District Attorney Thomas Sneddon was present at least one time in Craft’s office while Jason was there, though Jason could not explain what communication went on between the two men and why Sneddon was there at all. According to an article in USA Today on February 7, 1994, the therapist Jason Francia was sent to was arranged and paid for by the county Sheriff’s office after the boy’s mother expressed concern that Sheriff Deputies had called and met with her son while she was not present [4].

There had never been charges filed against Jackson based on Jason Francia’s claims, although the prosecution was obviously desperate to find another alleged victim besides Jordan Chandler.

However, Jason’s mother, Blanca Francia, taking a page out of the Chandlers’ playbook: hired civil lawyers and at the end of 1994 threatened Jackson with a civil lawsuit. In actuality, Blanca Francia talked about wanting to sue Jackson for money at least as early as March, 1994 – while the criminal investigation was still ongoing (for details see this article – the “Document 2″ segment). With the Chandler case behind him and a plan to release a new album in 1995, Jackson settled with the Francias out of court. As testified to during Jackson’s 2005 trial, two settlements were signed with the Francias – one with Blanca and another one with Jason Francia. Reportedly Jackson paid them $2.4 million.

It must be noted that only a criminal trial can send a perpetrator to jail; a civil trial can only result in a monetary award, so, like the Chandler settlement, this was not a case of Jackson buying his way out of a criminal indictment. [You can read more about the Chandler settlement here.] Two Grand Juries had already decided in the spring of 1994 not to indict Jackson. However, a civil trial could have resulted in a long, drawn out court process with lots of negative publicity for Jackson, which, regardless of the lack of credibility of the allegations and the outcome, would have affected Jackson’s ability to promote a new album, that he planned to release in 1995. To put the $2.4 million he paid out to the Francias into a perspective: Jackson’s record label, Sony Music spent $30 million on the promotion of Jackson’s double album released in 1995, entitled HIStory. The first video of the album, Scream, cost $7 million and a teaser that was shot for the album in Budapest, Hungary cost $4 million.

The language in both the settlements with Blanca and with Jason Francia emphasized that there was no admission of any wrongdoing on Jackson’s part. The fact that both Jason and Blanca Francia were called to testify at Jackson’s 2005 trial is a clear indication that such settlements of civil lawsuits do not and cannot prohibit anyone testifying at a criminal court. Francia’s allegations were heard in Court during the 2005 proceedings and weighed in when the jury reached its “not guilty” verdicts.

During Jackson’s 2005 trial, Jason alleged the first act of impropriety occurred in 1987, at Jackson’s Century City condo, in Los Angeles, when Jason was about seven years old. According to his story, while his mother was cleaning the condo, he and Jackson watched cartoons on the television and Jackson supposedly started to tickle him which resulted in a “tickle contest” between the two. Jason claimed that while tickling him Jackson’s hand moved down to his crotch and he touched his genital area above his clothes.

A second act of impropriety was described, similar to the first one, occurring in the same place, again while watching cartoons, one and a half years later, this time when Jason was about eight, eight and a half years old. Jason again claimed, while watching cartoons, Jackson moved behind him and began “spooning” him. Jason claimed he started to tickle him and while doing so Jackson again touched his genitalia above his clothes. He claimed the contact with his genital area lasted at least about four, five minutes.

A third act of impropriety was claimed to have happened at Neverland in the arcade when Jason was about ten and a half years old. He claimed while playing a video game, Jackson again started to tickle him and somehow they ended up on the couch in a “spooning” position. Jason claimed that this time Jackson put his hand in his shorts and touched his testicles. He alleged this lasted about three to four minutes. At this point Jason felt the need to voluntarily emphasize: “It took a lot of counseling to get over, just to let you know.” [1] (Note: Jason Francia was put into therapy by the prosecution in 1993/1994, like we mentioned above.)

Jason further alleged that every time Jackson tickled him, the star put a hundred dollar bill in his pants. Jason claimed he never told his mother about the alleged abuse: “I don’t even think to this day she knows”[1], he said on the stand in 2005, even though his mother hired civil lawyers and threatened to sue Jackson over the allegations in 1994.

During the 2005 trial, Jason’s Francia’s testimony was not considered credible by the jury, and the improper police interrogations those led to his allegations were not the only reason. Other than the alleged impropriety, Jason Francia did not seem to know or remember anything on the stand and was caught in several contradictions and lies. At the very least, this young man seemed to have an extremely bad, unreliable and ever-changing memory.

At age of 24, he sat on the stand and claimed he did not know if he ever signed a settlement with Jackson. He claimed he had not heared about the payment his mother received from Hard Copy until two days before his testimony and that he never discussed it with his mother.

At first, he claimed he never told his mother he was improperly touched but then admitted he did, claiming he was “mistaken” earlier. He claimed he never told the lawyers who represented him in 1994, Terry Cannon and Kris Kallman, that he was improperly touched, but later on in the testimony he said he did not know if he ever told them, and even later he said he did tell them.

In one of the 1993-94 interrogations Francia claimed that during a tickling episode he blacked-out and because of that he did not remember anything besides the tickling. In 2005, when Mesereau asked him if he had a black-out how could he have told the police that his mother was not in the room, he answered: “I blocked it out. I didn’t blank it out” [1]. Please note, Jackson’s condo was a small apartment and the alleged improprieties occurred while Blanca Francia was present, cleaning up and able to walk in on them at any time.

When the police asked Jason in 1993-94 if anything inappropriate had ever happened to him at Neverland he said “I was around too many people” and when they pressured him about the third account of tickling in the arcade, the incident where he now alleged Jackson put his hand in his pants – at the time initially Jason said he did not know if Jackson touched him inappropriately while tickling him. In actuality, he said he was not sure if Jackson even tickled him at all [1].

Mesereau pointed out that in an interview with the police in October, 2004 Jason claimed that this third tickling incident lasted more than ten seconds but he did not remember how long. At the trial, only a couple of months later, Jason suddenly remembered that it lasted for three to four minutes.

As for the money Jason allegedly received from Jackson after alleged acts of improper touching, when Jason Francia was initially interviewed by the police in 1993-94, he claimed that Jackson promised him money each time he read a book or achieved a good grade, because Francia had difficulties in school and with learning (in 2005 on the stand he admitted he still had problems with reading). This story later somehow evolved into Jackson putting money in his pants after each tickling.

During the trial, when asked if Attorney, Terry Cannon still represented him, Jason said “I don’t think so, no”[1] but later said he did not know if Cannon represented him. Mesereau reminded him that Cannon was present at a meeting Jason had with the prosecutors on December 6, 2004. At that meeting Jason did not want the interview to be tape-recorded. When Mesereau asked him why, at first he claimed to not remember that he made that request. Then when presented with documents that showed he indeed did, he could not testify what his reason was: “I don’t know”[1] and “Tape-recording is weird. I don’t know. No, I don’t” [1]. Documents also showed that he requested Cannon to be present at the interview but Jason said he did not remember why Cannon was there and whether he asked him to be there or not.

During the trial, when asked whether any criminal charges had ever been filed against Jackson based on his claims (there had never been), Jason answered: “I don’t know much. I don’t watch the news.” [1]

Mesereau asked Jason about another meeting which prosecutors held on November 19, 2004 when his mother was interviewed in the DA’s office. Again, Jason first claimed to not know anything about it:  “I don’t know. Me and my mother don’t talk about that stuff much.” [1] However, when Mesereau pointed out to him that he was present at that meeting, Francia all of a sudden remembered: “Now I remember, yes.” [1] In actuality, not only was Jason present, but he too was interviewed by the prosecutors and he asked that the interview not be tape-recorded on that occasion as well. Again, Francia did not remember any of this: he did not remember that an interview by the prosecutors that lasted for about an hour, took place at all, although it happened only a couple of months before his testimony at Jackson’s trial!

So not surprisingly, Jason Francia did not make a good impression on the jury at Jackson’s trial. Jury Foreman, Paul Rodriguez told Nancy Grace in an interview after the verdict.

GRACE: Mr. Rodriguez, did you believe the boy that came in that is now a youth minister* that stated Jackson molested him in the past?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, we got a little problem with that because he had no idea where some of his money came from, and he didn’t want to talk to his mother. And so those kind of things that we kind of didn’t focus on, but it did keep — we kept that in the back of our minds.

GRACE: So would it be safe to say you did not believe him?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, we had a hard time believing him…

[…]

GRACE: Yes. What about the one kid that became a youth minister*, who stated plainly Jackson molested his — fondled his genitals?

RODRIGUEZ: Again, like you said earlier, you know, about his scenario or his testimony, it was hard to buy the whole story, when he acted like he knew nothing about it. I mean, he acted so much like the mother of the other accuser, you know, he just didn’t seem that credible. He didn’t seem to convince us, like we wanted to be convinced. And he just — he was leaving too many little loopholes in his statements. [5]

(* The prosecution and the media constantly tried to make Jason Francia look more credible by emphasizing that he used to be a youth minister.)

It is very telling that Rodriguez put Francia’s testimony on par with that of “the mother of the other accuser”, Janet Arvizo, which was widely regarded, even by pro-prosecution journalists, as a disastrous testimony for the prosecution.

 

Sources:

[1] Jason Francia’s testimony at Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial (April 4-5, 2005)

[2] Supplemental Brief In Support Of Opposition To District Attorney’s Motion For Admission Of Alleged Prior Offenses (March 25, 2005)
http://www.sbscpublicaccess.org/docs/ctdocs/032505suppopp1108.pdf

[3] Kenneth E. Blackstone – The Fallibility of Forensic Interviewing
http://www.blackstonepolygraph.com/articles/Fallibility_of_Forensic_Interviewing.pdf

[4] Officials desperate to nail Michael Jackson (USA Today, February 7, 1994)

[5] Nancy Grace’s interview with jury foreman, Paul Rodriguez (CNN.com, June 13, 2005)
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/13/ng.01.html

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