The Case Against Michael Jackson
The Predator: Boys detail lurid acts of alleged sexual abuse in sealed court, police, grand jury records
It was during the family's 2-1/2 days in Miami that Jackson first provided the older boy with wine, according to investigative reports. The child told detectives that Jackson emptied a Diet Coke can, filled it with red wine, and told the boy to "just drink it," claiming the alcohol would relax him. The child reported consuming the wine, which he said gave him a headache. The boy's brother told probers that his sibling was acting strange in Miami, and confided that Jackson provided him with wine. In addition, the youngster told detectives that his brother would often meet with the recording star in the suite's bathroom. When he asked what they were doing in there, the older brother replied that the pair was "just talking."
The day after the February 6 U.S. broadcast, the family flew back to Neverland on Jackson's plane along with the singer, his two young children, a pair of nannies, and his personal physician, Dr. Alimorad Farshchian. During the flight, Jackson gave the younger brother a can of Diet Coke containing red wine, which the boy told investigators "tasted like rubbing alcohol." The child remarked that Jackson was "acting funny" on the flight, "poking others in the butt with his foot" and passing the time by placing obscene crank calls.
The younger boy also said that when his brother fell asleep with his head on Jackson's chest, he saw the performer licking the top of his sibling's head. In an interview with investigators, the boy "physically showed us Michael's action by sticking his tongue out and moving his head, much like a cat would do when grooming," according to one investigative affidavit. The children's mother said that she, too, saw the alleged licking. At one point she got up to use the restroom and noticed that everyone else onboard was asleep. That's when she spotted Jackson tonguing her child. As she recounted this episode during her first interview with detectives--on July 6, 2003 at Santa Barbara sheriff's headquarters--the woman became "emotionally upset," explaining that she "thought at the moment that she was seeing things," according to a police account of her questioning. However, she confirmed the licking episode was no mirage when later comparing notes with her younger son.
Asked if she saw anything else on the plane from Miami, the woman "mentioned seeing soda pop drinks," according to investigators. This seems like a particularly strange observation, considering that, even on a private jet, a Diet Coke can is as remarkable as a bag of peanuts or bottled water. For prosecutors, however, her account is just another fortuitous example of one family member neatly corroborating another's story.
The woman, who did nothing while her son was supposedly being licked, was equally hesitant to act when--after the family "escaped" from Neverland in mid-March--her boys told her about some of Jackson's more objectionable behavior (though not the alleged molestation). She told investigators that her initial response was to interrupt them and advise the children to "forgive and forget." She thought she was doing the right thing, the woman told detectives, adding that she subsequently learned that "this was wrong of her to do." A law enforcement affidavit reviewed by TSG does not disclose who or what triggered her tardy parental epiphany. Upon first learning of Jackson's questionable--and quite likely criminal--behavior, the woman wanted her boys to "make the disclosures to a priest or someone else," reported investigators.
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In his November 2003 Neverland search warrant application, Detective Paul Zelis stated that the family was held "virtual prisoners" upon their return with Jackson from Miami. Apart from the lush grounds, maid service, chef-prepared meals, furloughs, lax captors, and the amusement park outside their front door, the family's month-long Neverland stay was just like any stretch at San Quentin or Pelican Bay. Oh, and when the estate's security manager agreed--in the middle of their imprisonment--to drive the entire family back to its Los Angeles home, their two-hour repatriation south on the 101 Freeway was a comfortable one. Security boss Jesus Salas chauffeured them home in a black Rolls Royce, which is far cozier than a Spartan bus (though Greyhound apparently doesn't operate a Los Olivos-Los Angeles route).
The family told investigators and grand jurors that their repeated requests to leave the ranch were rejected by Jackson's unindicted co-conspirators--Tyson, Amen, Konitzer, and Wiesner--all of whom warned that the children would not be allowed to leave Neverland unless they agreed to their participation in the filming of a videotaped rebuttal to the Bashir documentary. The mother told investigators that her phone calls were monitored and she was kept apart from her boys. When Wiesner insisted that the family could not leave due to the supposed death threats, the woman did not argue with him because, she told investigators, she feared Jackson's manager would harm her. She quoted Konitzer as saying that if she went to the police or spoke with anyone, he would "make the kids disappear." Her older son claimed that Tyson warned him at one point, "I could have your mother killed." The child told detectives that he believed threats like that to be credible "because Michael Jackson is a billionaire." Though he did acknowledge never being threatened by Jackson himself.
Santa Barbara Police Department records reveal that several days after the family returned to Neverland, the woman's boyfriend, Jay Jackson, called police to report that she was being held against her will at the 2600-acre ranch. In his handwritten report, the officer who fielded the phoned-in complaint noted that while he was speaking with Jackson, the complainant's girlfriend called him (apparently from her cell phone). The cop told Jackson, a 42-year-old Army Reserve major, that if his girlfriend had access to a phone, perhaps she should call 911 directly. In a follow-up call to Jackson a couple of days later, the policeman sought an update from the military man, and was told that everything was okay and his girlfriend (whom he has since reportedly married) was safe and back in Los Angeles.
During the month her family was in residence at Neverland, the woman came and went numerous times, often without her children. When she agreed to have her kids videotape testimonials about Jackson on February 20, she met them at the West Hills home of videographer Hamid Moslehi (whose property was raided on the same November 2003 day that Jackson's ranch was searched). While her three children were driven to the taping from Neverland, she was picked up by Amen from her boyfriend's apartment. In police interviews, family members said that they were intimidated by Jackson aides into filming the "rebuttal" vignettes, which were orchestrated by Marc Schaffel, whose sidekick Christian Robinson conducted the interviews with the children. For his part, Moslehi told detectives that the siblings were relaxed and used his video game console while waiting for video equipment to be set up.
A week after ABC's February 6 broadcast of "Living with Michael Jackson," L.A.'s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) received a call to its child abuse hotline from an official with the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school worker, who apparently watched the Bashir program, lodged charges of general neglect against the children's mother and sexual abuse against Jackson. Almost immediately, in mid-February, DCFS workers assigned to the agency's Sensitive Case Unit contacted the woman and set up interviews with her and the children at Major Jackson's home (by this time, the family was two weeks into its purported captivity).
According to a DCFS report, when three agency representatives arrived at her boyfriend's L.A. home for the February 20 interviews, the mother "immediately went over to the VCR and started to play a video" showing her older son with Jackson. The social workers watched as Jackson and the boy were seen walking through Neverland, riding on the ranch's train, sitting on a blanket, and watching swan's in the estate's lake. The woman described Jackson as "like a father" to her children and said he "was an important part of [her son]'s recovery from cancer." In separate interviews, the three siblings also repeated the "like a father" line, with the older brother becoming upset when social worker Karen Walker asked if he had ever been touched inappropriately. "People think that something's happened sexually between Michael and me," he answered. "That's not true." His sister got "teary eye," according to the DCFS report, when she defended Jackson as "so kind and loving." The youngest boy said that trips to Neverland "make me real happy. We have fun with Michael, we all give each other nicknames. My name is Blowhole, like the fish."
With strong, separate denials of impropriety from the children and their mother, DCFS brass closed the agency probe, categorizing the abuse allegations as "unfounded" (as TSG first reported in December 2003). Asked later by detectives why they did not tell the social workers about their Neverland imprisonment or their mistreatment at the hands of Jackson and his henchmen, the family members said they were too scared. They also pointed to the intimidating presence of a Jackson security guard named Asef, who was present when the DCFS workers arrived, but was ordered to leave by the social workers as the confidential interviews commenced. Before the DCFS session began, an investigative report notes, "Asef warned her not to say anything wrong about Michael Jackson because they knew where her parents lived." She said Asef planted one recording device in the house and handed another to her to tape her interview. While she turned off the recorder she was given, the woman believed Asef later retrieved the other device from the home's living room, where the DCFS interviews occurred.