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June 13, 2005, Michael Jackson Found Not Guilty of Child Molestation Charges - Today in Crime History

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On this day, June 13, in the year 2005, pop music super star Michael Jackson was found not guilty at a jury trial on fourteen different criminal charges regarding allegations that he had molested one child, at times in the presence of that’s child’s brother.  The charges included seven counts of child molestation (lewd acts upon a child), conspiracy to commit child abduction, conspiracy to commit false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit extortion and four counts of providing alcohol to a minor.   In total, Michael Jackson was charged with ten felony charges and four misdemeanor charges, all involving the same two brothers who were under the age of fourteen at the time of the alleged events.

The events that led to Michael Jackson’s criminal charges began in 2003 when he was featured in a documentary titled “Living with Michael Jackson.”  In that documentary, Jackson was extensively interviewed over an eight month period.  In multiple scenes, the child that ultimately accused Jackson of molesting him, was interviewed and was seen with Jackson holding hands and resting his head on Jackson’s shoulders.  The child described Michael Jackson as his “best friend.”  The child stated in the documentary that he had slept in the same bed with Jackson.  In the documentary Michael Jackson admitted that multiple children had slept in his bed.  When questioned by the interviewer about this conduct, Michael Jackson denied that anything sexual happened with children in his bed.  The documentary would later be shown in it’s entirety at Jackson’s jury trial.

The documentary “Living with Michael Jackson” aired on February 6, 2003.  The child’s given time for the alleged sexual molestations was between February 20, 2003 and March 12, 2003.  Though the child and his family had been acquainted with Michael Jackson for almost two years prior to the documentary, the alleged victim claimed he was molested after the footage was filmed.  In November 2003, additional video that had not been included in the documentary was discovered that showed the victim and his family on February 19, 2003 denying that any sexual molestation had ever occurred.  Further, On February 20, 2003 the victim and his brother were interviewed by child protective services and, again, denied that any sexual molestation had occurred.

At the trial, the child accuser’s testimony was conflicting and confusing on many issues.  For example the child claimed that his grandmother and Jackson had both urged him to masturbate because if he did not he might rape a woman.  The child claimed that he ejaculated during one alleged incident of masturbation, but could not remember if he did  during a second alleged incident.  Evidence also demonstrated that the child accuser had made inconsistent statements about when the molestation had occurred and the number of times it had occurred.  At trial he testified to only two events while in statements to law enforcement he said there had been between five to seven molestations.

Similarly, the child accusers fourteen year bother’s testimony at trial was contradictory, inconsistent with other testimony and unconvincing on multiple issues.  He testified that Jackson's bedroom door was locked, but he pushed it open.  He testified that after forcing himself into the bedroom neither Jackson or his brother was aware that he was present.  At times he testified that Jackson was wearing underwear and at other times he testified Jackson was wearing pants while the molestation occurred.  The brothers description  at trial of what he saw during the alleged molestations was inconsistent with the description provided during police interviews.

The prosecution claimed they would present evidence that Jackson had molested other boys in the past.  Three of the people named by the prosecution testified at trial that they had slept in Jackson’s bed, but that Jackson never molested then or done anything sexual in their presence.  The three also testified they had never seen Jackson do anything sexually with any person.

The prosecution did present witnesses that testified they had seen Jackson molest young men, but all of these witnesses had credibility issues because they had sued Michael Jackson for wrongful termination in 1995.  These witness had also been accused of stealing from Michael Jackson and selling some of the stolen property to tabloids.  The ex-employees that testified had all been previously fined for lying in court and had been ordered to pay more than one million dollars for Jackson’s legal fees. 

Evidence revealed that the child’s mother went to a lawyer who had previously been involved in litigation against Michael Jackson before she revealed the allegations of sexual molestation to the police.  The circumstances under which the child’s allegations arose created the suspicion that the claim made by the child and his family was motivated by money.  Jackson’s criminal defense attorney claimed that the charges were made in retaliation by the family after they realized that Jackson was not going to continue supporting them financially.  During the trial the family was portrayed as having attempted to extort money from Jackson.
           
From the beginning of jury selection on January 31, 2005 until the final jury instructions on June 1, 2005, the trial of Michael Jackson lasted more than four months.  During the fourteen week trial more than 130 witnesses testified.   The jury, comprised of eight women and four men,  deliberated approximately 32 hours over the course of seven days before reaching its decision.  On June 13, 2005 the jury delivered it’s verdict of “Not Guilty” on all charges.

More Information and Sources:

Jackson Acquitted on All Counts in Molestation Case, New York Times, June 13, 2005

Jackson not guilty: Jurors acquit pop star of all molestation charges, June 14, 2005, CNN.com

2005 Trial Transcripts, MJ Facts: An Objective View of Michael Jackson

The Michael Jackson Trial, National Public Radio, NPR.org

Trial of Michael Jackson, Wikipedia.org

Michael Buchanan is a practicing criminal defense attorney in Gainesville, Florida, with more than 25 years experience defending people accused of criminal misconduct. He is a former president of the Eighth Judicial Circuit chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Read detailed professional biography here.