I overheard a conversation the other day about Michael Jackson. The late king of pop has just recently, not for the first time either, been accused of child molestation. The people conversing were debating whether Jackson’s music should now be banned, or at least eliminated from radio and online playlists, and based on what I could ascertain, they were convinced of his guilt.
The only problem is that the man himself is not around to defend himself and of course as I shall try to show here, it is virtually impossible to say without any conviction that he is indeed guilty as charged.
Let me add that I was a big Jackson fan, so sure I am rooting for him, but if the man was what his accusers claim, then I would gladly admit I was wrong. But how will we ever gather sufficient evidence?
Let us ask a few questions.
1 Was Michael Jackson weird? I think by any kind of societal standard the answer would be yes.
2 Was Jackson’s relationships with children unusual? Again by any societal standard the answer would be in the affirmative.
3 Would you have allowed your child to stay over at his house and sleep in the same bed? Again, I think any right-thinking parent would immediately say no, and not even because of what he has been accused of.
4 Was Jackson a pedophile? If you say yes, I would ask how do you know for certain? Whether you like it or not, the evidence we have before us says the answer is no.
You might point to the 1993 accusation by Jordan Chandler. Jackson settled this out of court to the tune of $25 million. Some say that alone is proof of his guilt but you must bear in mind that there is a massive culture of suing in the United States and this was in fact a civil case not a criminal case. It is not unusual at all for civil cases to be settled out of court. It is actually quite normal, in spite of how it may look to those outside of the U.S. Interestingly Chandler’s mother said there had been no wrongdoing on Jackson’s part.
Then in 2003 he was accused by Gavin Arvizo of similar evils. A criminal trial followed in 2005 and Jackson was found not guilty on all counts.
After Jackson’s death it surfaced that the Department of Children and Family Services investigated Jackson and together with the Los Angeles Police Department found no credible evidence of misconduct.
All in all, Jackson was investigated 14 times and there was no evidence of paedophilia. His Neverland ranch was so massive that it required him to have a fire department on the property, which itself had security and police doing regular rounds. His accusers were on the property at the same time as his nieces and nephews, who would have at the very least been suspicious you would think if their uncle was engaging in improper behaviour.
Given all that I have written there, and factoring in that it is 10 years since his death, I find it very difficult to believe what Wade Robson is now saying Jackson did to him. Also as much as there have been Chandlers, Arvizos and Robsons, there have also been Macaulay Culkins and Cory Feldmans who insist nothing happened when they were in Jackson’s presence. That alone rules out Jackson being a serial paedophile. Would a paedophile not try his luck with all the boys, rather than just a select few? Nevertheless, before I continue, I must add that all accusers have the right to a safe and secure environment in which they can tell their stories. I am by no means belittling accusations of paedophilia.
In the #MeToo era it is fashionable to support accusers using the motivation that they are telling us “their truth”. There is a fundamental flaw with that reasoning though because the accused is almost certainly to tell us a conflicting version which in turn would be “their truth”.
There is no “your truth” and “my truth”, but only “the truth”. “Truth” has become a synonym for “my side of the story” and while it might make some people feel better, or indeed make them feel they won the argument, the real truth is that it would never hold up in a court of law, and a court of law is where Jackson was found innocent.