Despite of not any evidence of it ever, some portion of the media cannot let go a myth about Michael Jackson supposedly secretly paying off dozens of families not to go public or to authorities with allegations of sexual abuse of their children by the star.
We already addressed this claim in connection with an article written by the Sunday People in June 2013 and showed there why that claim is not true, but the myth of these secret pay-offs seems to be too persistent and some of the media too lazy to fact-check the veracity of these claims before they publish articles about it based on simple “copy-and-paste” journalism. In early April of 2015 there was another article, this time written by Stacy Brown, that spread through the mainstream media once AGAIN without anyone ever bothering to fact-check it before they re-publish it. (Stacy Brown is a freelance tabloid journalist who used to be a Jackson family hanger-on until the early-mid 2000s. He was NOT in Michael Jackson’s inner circle, he only saw the singer from the distance a couple of times, he was associated more with Jackson’s eldest sister Rebbie Jackson and her husband Nathaniel Brown. Initially he had a positive attitude towards the family and Michael Jackson, but it all changed when it became clear that Michael Jackson did not want to associate with him. Since then he made it his profession to regularly write slanderous articles about the singer, his family and even his children.) This time the claim was that over the years Michael Jackson paid $200 million “hush money” to families of 20 of his supposed victims to not to come forward with allegations of child sexual abuse against him.
Fact is, however, that there is not any evidence in support of this claim. Some of the media rehashing this claim over and over again will not make it true, although of course it can do a lot to make people believe it, simply based on the old communications trick of repeating a lie enough for it to become people’s “truth”.
In this article I am going to provide some bullet points about this issue:
- Michael Jackson has been investigated by authorities for over 10 years and he was on a criminal trial in 2005. No evidence of secret pay-offs to 20 or 24 families (or whatever the number is in any given tabloid article) was ever even offered by the prosecution (or the FBI or by anyone). It was not a case of such evidence being “excluded” from court. Such evidence simply was not even offered. This prosecution threw everything but the kitchen sink at Jackson in 2005 so it is not realistic to think that they would leave out such an important evidence if it existed. In actuality, the only evidence of pay-offs which came out at the trial was the money the prosecution’s many witnesses received from the tabloid media for their allegations! It is ironic that some of the same media who paid out fortunes to people for making up allegations about Michael Jackson over the course of two decades, continue to accuse the singer of secret pay-offs with no evidence whatsoever. (To read more about the media’s role in the allegations against Jackson please read this article.)
- None of Michael Jackson’s actual accusers claimed to have been offered any “hush money”. The article claims that the family of Jackson’s posthumus accuser, James Safechuck received $1 million as hush money. It appears that the author of the article (and all those who uncritically rehashed it) did not even bother to check out the actual allegations of these accusers, which are not consistent with the claims in the article. Safechuck’s claim is that his parents never knew about his alleged abuse until his recent “revelation” of it. There is no allegation made about the parents receiving any hush money from Jackson to stay silent about alleged abuse. Wade Robson does not allege either that his parents received any hush money from Jackson. [We have a lot to say about Robson and Safechuck’s allegations, but on this website we are only going to address these claims in detail after the case leaves the court system.]
- Regarding Robson’s allegations. Among other things he accuses Jackson’s companies, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures of “facilitating” his alleged abuse. There are many problems with this claim, but for the purpose of this article there is one that is important: for a company to be responsible for alleged sexual abuse by one of its employees, agents, representatives, the law requires that the company knew or had a reason to know about the alleged abuse or about previous criminal activities of the accused person and that the company failed to apply reasonable safeguards to prevent abuse. The Judge already sustained a demurrer by Jackson’s Estate stating that Robson failed to claim a viable cause of action about how Jackson’s companies were supposed to be responsible for alleged abuse, but the Judge allowed Robson to amend his complaint in order to try to claim a viable cause of action. As of our current information of the case, Robson filed his amended complaint, but yet again it does not seem to include much more than his first complaint. If there was evidence of “hush money” being paid out to other people we would probably see references to it in this complaint, because it would strengthen Robson’s argument about why and how Jackson’s companies “had a reason to know”. But from what we are able to see so far there is not any such claim from Robson in any of his papers, even though his lawyer was pretty hopeful about this possibility of alleged “hush money” victims being discovered when the Sunday People published its article in 2013. Then Maryann Marzano was quoted saying:
“Choreographer Robson’s litigation counsel Maryann R. Marzano of Gradstein & Marzano said: ‘These revelations confirm what we’ve been saying: that Michael Jackson was a pedophile and Wade Robson was one of his victims.
‘To continue to deny this, defies both common sense and common decency.’
A source close to Wade added: ‘The information in these files could provide many leads both for witnesses in the case and background information on deals we may never have heard of before.
‘Wade wants his lawyers to go through the papers page by page.’” 
However, almost two years later none of these alleged “hush money” allegations have found their way into any of their court papers, which suggests that just like prosecutors and the FBI before, they have not found anything either. For anyone following the actual court proceedings in the Robson/Safechuck matter it is clear that there is no evidence provided about such alleged hush money payments. Not surprisingly, because this is nothing but a media myth.
- Sometimes Michael Jackson’s settling a civil lawsuit with Jordan Chandler and Jason Francia’s (to learn more about those settlements please click on their names) families in 1994 is characterized as “hush money” by the media, but we are talking about different things here. Those were settlements well after those allegations went public and after authorities already were notified about them. “Hush money” is what is paid for a family not to go public or to authorities with allegations of sex abuse. There is no evidence of Michael Jackson ever paying such money to anyone.
The settlements with Chandler and Francia WERE mentioned in court in 2005, during the testimonies of Jordan’s mother June Chandler and Jason Francia. That is not new information and not something that the trial jury in 2005 did not hear about.
In actuality, the way Jackson handled the Chandler situation makes it very unlikely that he ever paid hush money to anyone, which leads us to our next point.
- The Chandler family – Jackson’s first accusers in 1993 – wanted nothing more than hush money. This is admitted in a book entitled All That Glitters, published in 2004 by Jordan Chandler’s uncle Ray Chandler. That book goes into a lengthy discussion of the so called “negotiations” – ie. the Chandlers’ monetary demands from Jackson in order to not go public and to authorities with their allegations of sexual abuse of Jordan by the singer. (For a detailed discussion of those monetary demands please see this article.) Jackson however refused to pay them off. Quotes from that book:
“Fields and Pellicano [Jackson’s lawyer and his private investigator] already knew Evan [Chandler – the boy’s father] was willing to negotiate. Why not pay him off and nip the nightmare in the bud while you’ve got the opportunity? Especially when you know your man is guilty of sleeping with little boys, at least. Not only do you avoid a civil suit, but also, more important, you buy your way around authorities by removing their star witness. Ten, twenty, thirty million? Money’s no object. The deal could be a fait accompli within hours. And if it doesn’t work, you can always come out swingin’ anyway.” [2; page 126]
“On the morning of August 17, 1993, as he negotiated with [the Chandlers’ lawyer] Barry Rothman, Anthony Pellicano had in his possession a copy of the psychiatrists report with the names omitted. He held in his hand the future of the most famous entertainer in human history. Yet the tape is replete with examples of Pellicano refusing to compromise on what would amount to chump change to Jackson. Why take the chance of Michael’s name ending up on that report and triggering an investigation?” [2; page 138]
“Had Michael paid the twenty million dollars demanded of him in August, rather than the following January, he might have spent the next ten years as the world’s most famous entertainer, instead of the world’s most infamous child molester.”[2; page 128]
In actuality, according to the book at one point Evan Chandler offered to go away for $1 million. Many people fail to realize had Jackson wanted to “hush” his accuser he could have done so before the allegations went public and before the authorities were involved. In fact, the accusing side’s goal was to get a pay-off from the very beginning. It is clear that the reason they turned to the public and the authorities with their allegations was because they did NOT get the pay-off they desired. If paying off people was such a routine for Michael Jackson why did not he pay off the Chandlers who were so eager to be paid off?
- Such huge amount of pay-outs would have their traces somewhere in financial records – money moving from and to bank accounts, ledgers, accounting etc. Such huge amount of money cannot just appear or disappear without any trace and any explanation and any effect on either the one who pays it or those who receive it. The prosecution in 2005 was given several search warrants against Jackson – including search warrants on his bank accounts. They were given full authority to look into Jackson’s finances. However, there is nothing from a financial point of view supporting the idea of such pay-outs.
Based on the above points it is safe to say Jackson has never paid hush money to anyone in exchange for silence about alleged sexual abuse of their children. There was never any evidence of such payments and no one has ever claimed that he or his parents ever received any such payments. Prosecutors, the FBI and opposing lawyers could not find anything either after all these years. The court documents of the 2005 trial and the period leading up to it are freely available online (http://sbscpublicaccess.org/) and there is nothing in them about $200 million being paid out by Jackson to 20 alleged victims. The prosecution never offered any such evidence, so it was not a case of such evidence being “excluded” – such evidence simply did not exist.
The only realm this claim is stubbornly rehashed over and over again is some portion of the media which fail to do due diligence before they rehash potentially slanderous stories about someone who is not here to defend himself.
UPDATE: Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Estate of Michael Jackson said this to Entertainment Tonight regarding these claims:
“We are aware of recent false ‘reports’ regarding Michael Jackson having, among other things, paid over $200 million to 20 ‘victims,'” Weitzman told ET in a statement on Monday. “There is not a shred of evidence to support these ludicrous ‘reports.’ It is unfortunate that, even in death, Michael cannot be free of these types of allegations, but we are confident that the truth will prevail in the end, just as it did in 2005 when a jury fully exonerated him.” 
 James Desborough – Michael Jackson ‘victim’ Wade Robson claims leaked FBI files proves he told the truth about child molestation [Daily Mail, July 2, 2013]
 Raymond Chandler – All That Glitters: The Crime and the Cover-Up (Windsong Press Ltd, September 2004)
 Raphael Chestang – Michael Jackson Accused of Paying Millions in Hush Money to Alleged Molestation Victims (ET Online, April 6, 2015)