The Case Against Michael Jackson
The Predator: Boys detail lurid acts of alleged sexual abuse in sealed court, police, grand jury records
In mid-November 2003, investigators drafted a lengthy and remarkably thorough affidavit in support of their court request to raid Neverland, the Beverly Hills office of Bradley Miller, a private investigator working for Jackson attorney Mark Geragos, and the L.A. home where Jackson's accusers filmed their rebuttal videotape. Noting that Jackson's "three-year long interest" in the adolescent victim was "grossly abnormal" and, in itself, corroborative of the family's story, Detective Paul Zelis concluded that criminal probers had established "reasonable probable cause" to "believe Michael Joe Jackson is a pedophile and one with the means to inhibit disclosure of his offenses by bribery and intimidation."
What follows is an inside account of how investigators came to that conclusion.
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After being diagnosed with cancer in 2000, the gravely ill boy, then only ten, told his family that he would like to meet one of his favorite entertainers, specifically naming Michael Jackson and comedians Adam Sandler, Chris Tucker, and Jim Carrey.
That kind of Make-a-Wish request was something Jackson had often fulfilled and he soon contacted the child by phone in a Los Angeles hospital. In short order, the pair--a world-famous entertainer and a grade schooler from East L.A. --became phone pals while the child remained hospitalized. Upon the boy's discharge, Jackson invited him and his family to visit Neverland in August 2000. Jackson sent a car to pick up the family in L.A. and later presented the boy with an Apple laptop. During that initial visit, the mother told detectives, she met Tyson, who was introduced as a longtime friend of Jackson's and who told her he handled "damage control" for the entertainer. The 24-year-old Tyson, whose actual surname is Cascio, is a scrawny New Jersey native who, the alleged victim and his family claimed, repeatedly threatened their lives during their 2003 imprisonment at Neverland. The children returned to Neverland later that year, accompanied only by their father David, according to police interviews. Around this time, Jackson gave the family a white Ford Bronco, which they used to transport the sick child to medical appointments.
Asked by investigators what transpired during those first two Neverland trips, the brothers recounted two unsettling incidents, though neither could pinpoint during which visit they occurred.
The younger boy, 9 at the time, said that while he and his brother were riding in a golf cart with Jackson, the star asked them, "What's your favorite curse word?" The child also recalled being in Jackson's bedroom along with his brother, Tyson, Jackson, and the performer's son, Prince Michael, who was 3 at the time. Tyson, the younger boy told investigators, connected his brother's laptop to the Internet, "and Michael started searching for pornographic web sites," according to the Zelis search warrant affidavit. The child said Jackson typed in either www.pussy.com or www.teenpussy.com and he and his brother saw photos of "naked ladies." The boy "described seeing a female holding her shirt up and exposing her breasts and Michael commented, 'Got Milk?'" The boy said that Jackson's son was sleeping nearby and the entertainer "told Prince he was 'missing out.'" The older brother gave investigators a similar account of the web surfing, adding that Jackson told him not to tell his parents what they were doing. When the younger brother told his sister about the naked photos, the older boy "told her not to say anything because Michael would get mad. [He] told her everything is secret and that they can't say anything," according to Zelis.
The girl told detectives that she was mostly excluded from joining her brothers when they were with Jackson at Neverland, and that days would go by without her seeing them. She was a decidedly third wheel and did not rate a Jackson nickname nor a sleepover invitation. She bunked with her parents in a separate guest house while her brothers stayed in Jackson's bedroom during those initial visits (the boys slept on the bed while Jackson and Tyson crashed on the floor in sleeping bags). In fact, during the early Neverland trips, the younger brother also apparently did not figure in Jackson's plans. In one interview, the older child said Jackson wanted only him to stay in the bedroom, but the boy insisted that his sibling be allowed to stay as well.
Girls as second-class citizens is a well-established fact at Neverland. In fact, when agents raided the Los Olivos, California ranch in November 2003, they found a handwritten letter from a girl named Renia in a black leather case in Jackson's bedroom. A search warrant return reviewed by TSG notes that the missive "discusses boys sleeping with subject. She was not allowed into 'Apple Head Club' because she was a girl." That description of evidence item #361 was one of more than 40 entries wholly or partially redacted from a Neverland search warrant inventory released last year.
The older brother saw Jackson once more in 2000, around Christmas, when he spent time with the performer and his two children at the Hilton hotel near Universal Studios in Hollywood. Jackson and the kids watched a movie while lying in bed and "talked, hung out, and wrestled around," the boy told detectives. The child's mother said Jackson gave the boy a Nintendo or PlayStation unit and video games, but did not give his siblings any presents.
While Jackson and the boy spoke for hours at a time on the phone, there were no Neverland visits in 2001 because the child was undergoing progressive chemotherapy for cancer and was too sick to travel. The disease, now reportedly in remission, cost the boy a kidney and his spleen.
The boy's mother said that, during 2001, she complained to Jackson about the length of his telephone chats with her son--and that Jackson was upset with her criticism. Asked by investigators about her recollections of those calls, she said that her son mentioned things that struck her as "peculiar." For instance, Jackson's favorite color was the same as her son's favorite color. And "whatever [her son] liked, Michael liked as well." Her after-the-fact inference was clear: the adult Jackson was carefully cultivating her son. The woman added that soon after Jackson learned that the boy was sharing details of their phone calls with her, the boy began clamming up about the chats.
Investigators contend that these "endless phone conversations" and other "extravagant attention" paid to the boy by Jackson mirrors the story told to authorities ten years ago by Jordan Chandler, another 13-year-old boy who once "caught the eye of Michael Jackson." The criminal investigation of Chandler's abuse allegations was stymied when the boy's family entered into a $20 million civil settlement with the pop star and declined to further pursue criminal charges against Jackson. Sneddon recently announced that he will seek to introduce evidence gathered from the Chandler investigation and a second early-90s probe to establish that Jackson engaged in prior acts of molestation. The original probe still casts such a shadow over Jackson that when Schaffel's Calabasas home was raided last January, deputies actually discovered a file folder titled "Chandler Statement." Inside was a printout from TSG of a sworn declaration by the boy, which we first posted in February 2003.
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While they often provided investigators with very specific accounts of Jackson's wrongdoing, the boy and his family are uniformly hazy when it comes to exact dates and times of these alleged transgressions, which could tend to undermine aspects of their expected future testimony. The accusers, who were interviewed separately by Santa Barbara Sheriff's detectives, said that they did not compare notes about their individual accounts. However, both boys and the children's mother explained away their temporal deficiencies almost identically: the trio claimed that since there were no clocks or calendars at Neverland, they simply lost track of dates. The younger boy claimed that Jackson kept him and his brother away from "clocks and dates." The older brother told investigators that he was "not allowed" to keep track of dates and times while at the entertainer's ranch.