The Case Against Michael Jackson
The Predator: Boys detail lurid acts of alleged sexual abuse in sealed court, police, grand jury records
Acting on a referral from DCFS (since Neverland was in its jurisdiction), the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department also conducted its own child abuse probe. While relying on the DCFS interviews of the woman and her children, Detective Terry Flaa supplemented the L.A. review with an interview of the children's father David (from whom their mother filed for divorce in October 2001). After a one-month review, the sheriff's office declared in mid-April 2003, according to an internal report, that "the elements of criminal activity were not met. No further action required."
Within three months, however, the Santa Barbara Sheriff would revisit those same abuse allegations and come to a markedly different conclusion.
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The family's eventual cooperation with law enforcement was, essentially, an outgrowth of their remarkably heavy-handed treatment by the Jackson camp.
During the period of the family's in-and-out stay at Neverland, their scant belongings--which barely filled what the mother called her "bachelor's apartment"--were placed into storage by private eye Bradley Miller. According to an affidavit, the woman told investigators that "the interest in moving her things manifested itself" when Jackson representatives found out "she had kept the notes Michael Jackson had sent or written [her son]." Those notes were hidden, she said, in a "planted clay pot" that was among items eventually stored by Miller at Dino's Moving & Storage in North Hollywood.
After splitting from Jackson & Co. in mid-March 2003 ("escaped" is how investigators prefer to describe it), the woman repeatedly asked for the return of her household goods. When she was rebuffed, she hired lawyer William Dickerman, who engaged in a lengthy and contentious fight with Jackson attorney Mark Geragos for the return of her belongings. It wasn't until she began assisting sheriff's investigators that the woman was able to retrieve her belongings from Dino's. However, there were no letters growing in that potted plant, and investigators have accused Miller of unlawfully taking the material.
In police interviews, the woman told of her disenchantment with Jackson and his aides, claiming that they broke promises to place her children in private school and to purchase a house and an apartment (so her family would have two places to shuttle between so nobody would find them). She also spoke of her anger upon learning that Jackson had provided booze to her children, especially since alcohol was a significant threat to her older son's medical condition.
She also pointed to the frenzied and aggressive attempt to pack the family off to South America, to a remote Brazilian city "that would have no Americans, so nobody would recognize them and be able to send the killers there." She told detectives of thinking that if Jackson's aides really cared about her children, they would want her oldest son to be in L.A. to receive treatment from his doctor. "She could not understand the urgency of them wanting the family to leave the country," noted one affidavit. At the conclusion of one interview, the woman was asked why she thought Jackson and his cohorts lied about the existence of death threats targeting her family (and the related need for the Brazil trip). "Because they did wrong," she said. "Because of the things they knew they did to [her children]." She concluded, the affidavit reported, that the wealthy performer and his employees "thought because she lived in East Los Angeles that nobody would care or miss them."
When police asked family members how the older boy has changed since his alleged abuse by Jackson, they described him as a far more volatile child. His sister said he is becoming progressively more argumentative. His brother said he "gets angry more often and at times is quieter than before." The boy's mother said he "gets angry for no reason or cause" and noted that the teenager recently shot her in the leg with a BB gun.
While aspects of the family's false imprisonment story appear shaky, there can be little argument that the scheme to disappear the alleged victim's family reflects a consciousness of guilt on the part of someone, for something. Whether Jackson's associates knew something--or just assumed the worst--much of their well-documented behavior is highly suspect. For example, detectives have a forged letter that was submitted to the school attended by the alleged victim and his brother. During the period that Team Jackson was arranging the pair's international exodus, someone submitted a phony document purporting to authorize the pair's release from the L.A. school for their placement in an Arizona school.
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In May 2003, civil lawyers representing the accuser and his family were alarmed at details of the children's relationship with Jackson. One of the attorneys, Larry Feldman, represented the teenage boy who first accused the entertainer of molestation a decade earlier (and who settled that case for eight figures). Feldman, as he had done with Jordan Chandler in 1993, referred his young clients to a psychologist.
Dr. Stanley Katz interviewed the three children on June 3, and listened to their tawdry stories about "white stuff" and "Jesus Juice." In an interview later that month with police, Katz described the older boy as "very emotional and scared," noting that he purposefully did not press the child too hard during their session. He said the boy was "really honest and forthcoming" and scared that people would tease him "if this comes out." He was also concerned that a "crazed fan of Michael's" would try and kill him. Katz reported that when he asked if Jackson ever demonstrated how to masturbate, the boy "started crying and didn't want to talk about it."
The forensic and clinical psychologist concluded that while the information the minors provided was "very complex," he judged them to be credible witnesses regarding abuse by Jackson, assorted threats, and a "sort of" false imprisonment at Neverland.
It was during his recap of the children's interviews that Katz provided Detective Zelis with an unsolicited, and surely surprising, analysis of Jackson. The entertainer, he offered, was really just a regressed adolescent who behaved like any 10-year-old boy prone to "whacking off" with his buddies. That is a professional opinion not shared by Santa Barbara county detectives and prosecutors, who have spent 18 months building the case that Michael Joe Jackson preys on young boys.