Several billionaires and high-profile individuals have recently been tied to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. One of them was Tommy Mottola, the former head of Sony Music Entertainment and current Chairman of Mottola Media Group. We may be only hearing the news of Mottola now, but one figure tried to warn us about him years ago – and it was none other than the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
"Sony. Tommy Mottola is the president of the record division. He is mean, he’s a racist, and he’s very, very, very devilish," the "Billie Jean" singer said in an infamous speech before his death in 2009. The timing of his demise was troubling to his millions of admirers, spurring rumors that he was murdered after exposing the corruption of the music industry. But another widely-held belief has made a resurgence in the past month, one that still lingers in his fans' minds: That Michael Jackson is, and has always been, innocent.
I was only 8 years old when I first heard about the allegations against Michael Jackson. All the adults were talking about it; even the children at my school would joke about him being a monster. The impact of news coverage surrounding Jackson and the kids he spent time with largely influenced viewers to see him as a child molester. Surprisingly, many people believe these claims are largely baseless – even the pop star's friends have defended him.
This belief in his innocence is reinforced by the testimony of several child stars who knew him closely, including Macaulay Culkin and Corey Feldman, who have repeatedly asserted that Jackson never engaged in improper behavior with them. While I'm not completely dismissing all allegations against Michael, I find it important to highlight why fans are so eager to prove his innocence. But before we do, let's go over the infamous allegations MJ has faced throughout his career.
In 1986, a 10-year-old boy named James Safechuck got hired to appear alongside Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial. According to Safechuck, the musician would fly him and his family for visits and vacations, and he asked him to sleep with him in his bed in Hawaii. Years later, in 1993, the LAPD began investigating Jackson based on multiple allegations of him molesting children, most notably Jordan Chandler. His father, Evan, accused MJ of sexually abusing Jordan after they became close. However, officials found no evidence at his home or his condo in LA. Jackson eventually settled out of court with the accuser, and his team maintains that the suit was an attempt to extort a large sum of money. We'll get back to this later.
In 2003, another documentary titled Living with Michael Jackson – reported by journalist Martin Bashir – aired in the U.S. and the U.K. The film featured the "Thriller" singer holding hands and cradling a cancer survivor with whom he shared a bed, but both the boy and Jackson denied sexual abuse reports. "My greatest inspiration comes from kids," Jackson tells Bashir. "It's all inspired by that level of innocence, that consciousness of purity."
The documentary was enough to spark a criminal investigation against Michael Jackson, and he was later charged after police raided Neverland, his notorious ranch in Santa Barbara, California. The sheriff's office arrested him on charges of child molestation but did not disclose details or identify the victim. Jackson's lawyer, at the time Mark Geragos, called the claims "a big lie." His previous attorney, Thomas Mesereau, echoes this and states that the singer was pressured by his close circle to settle the case.
Two years later, his criminal case went on trial. The victim was finally identified as Gavin Arvizo, the kid that appeared in Michael's documentary. He said on the stand that the singer had masturbated to him, and his brother claims they were given alcohol and were pressured to watch pornography.
In addition, one of Jackson's staff members, Blanca Francia, added that she saw Jackson showering with another young boy named Wade Robson. Months later, Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges. If you take a look at the accusers' parents, you'll find that some of them seemed suspicious. For example, it's a little-known fact that Gavin's mom was charged with one count of obtaining aid by misrepresentation and four counts of perjury. And, in a disturbing twist, the fathers of two of Jackson's alleged victims (both Wade and Jordan) committed suicide.
These are just a few examples – others have come forward to claim something similar, and it’s important not to dismiss them so easily as lies. Still, we have to hear both sides of the story, so here are a few of the many celebrities who defended Michael Jackson.
Evan Chandler Talks about "Winning"
Let's go back to one of the purported victims, Jordan Chandler. His father, Evan, was the one who moved forward with the case. In July 1993, David Schwartz (Jordan's stepfather) recorded a phone call between him and Evan. It's important to note that MJ's closest friends and family believe that everyone was after his money – and this phone call seems to support that conclusion.
"If I go through with this [case] I win big time," says Evan. "I will get everything I want. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever," later adding, "Michael's career will be over."
Macaulay Culkin Defends Michael Jackson
It's well-known that Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin was close friends with the King of Pop. When Macaulay was dealing with the pressure of childhood stardom, MJ was there for him since he understood deeply what he was going through. From 1988 until 2005, Macaulay and his family became regular visitors at the Neverland Ranch. Of course, a friendship between a child and a grown man is highly suspicious – but in an interview with Esquire, the former child star finally revealed the truth about his relationship with MJ.
What he said comes as a shock to many. “Look,” he said. “I’m gonna begin with the line – it’s not a line, it’s the truth: He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back. The guy has passed on. If anything – I’m not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it. But no, I never saw anything; he never did anything.”
The young actor has always stayed consistent with his story. In 2004, Macaulay Culkin appeared on CNN with Larry King and explained that "nothing happened" with the singer other than they played video games and hung out at his amusement park. He even clarified the bed situation, stating that MJ's bedroom is two stories high. And when King asked Macaulay why he thinks the pop star liked young kids so much, he said it was because Jackson was like a kid himself.
"Because the same reason why he liked me, was the fact that I didn't care who he was,” Culkin said. “That was the thing. I talked to him like he was a normal human being and kids do that to him because he's Michael Jackson the pop singer, but he's not the God, the ‘king of pop’ or anything like that. He's just a guy who is actually very kid-like himself and wants to go out there and wants to play video games with you."
Corey Feldman Previously Said MJ Was “Innocent”
The Goonies actor Corey Feldman rose to fame as a child in the '80s, met Michael Jackson in 1984 on set, and the two remained friends. Feldman, who has always spoken out about child abuse in Hollywood, revealed years ago that he tried to tell police about the horrors he witnessed as a child. He claimed that the officials only cared about finding dirt on Michael Jackson. "All they cared about was trying to find something on Michael Jackson – who was innocent," he said.
Though Feldman has always repeated that Michael Jackson never harmed him, he now says that he can "no longer defend" him following the airing of Leaving Neverland.
Aaron Carter Says They Tried To Get Him To Frame MJ
In an exclusive interview with VladTV, former child star Aaron Carter suggests that his mom and FBI agents tried to frame MJ a day after he smoked pot with him. Aaron was found dead in his bathtub one year after this admission.
"That man did nothing but be hospitable, kind, loving, giving, everything you can think of," Aaron recalled. The former pop star liked Michael Jackson so much that he named his son, Prince, after him.
Nicole Richie Defends MJ
Nicole Richie grew up around MJ as a child since her father – Lionel – and MJ were best pals. She told Access Hollywood, “a group of us would all sleep in the same room. It was like, absolutely nothing more than just an adult kind of wanting to be a kid again. Absolutely nothing went on."
Another Child Star Defends Michael Jackson
Emmanuel Lewis, a former child star from New York, befriended Michael Jackson in the 1980s and would hang out with him at Disney World and Neverland Ranch. Their relationship fueled the sexual abuse allegations, but Lewis has taken to Twitter numerous times to defend his old friend.
"Let's be 100% clear here I was never a victim," he wrote. "My big bro Michael has been nothing but kind and a role model to me and my family. I suggest you pick a subject you really know because obviously you don't know Michael and you don't know me. Spread peace not false rumors."
Throughout his dramatic life, Michael Jackson faced various accusations, many of which were later proven unfounded or driven by opportunistic intentions. The considerable wealth and fame he amassed made him a target for individuals seeking to exploit his resources. The media's portrayal of MJ and how his trials were covered undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping the public’s opinion. The misleading sensationalism and selective reporting by magazines decades ago (and even today) led to a skewed understanding of his character.
But if we were to consider Michael Jackson’s troubled upbringing, his traumatic childhood, and the testimonies of those who knew him well, a more nuanced picture of the pop star begins to emerge. Perhaps his actions were influenced by a deep-seated need to reclaim the childhood he was denied. While I’m not stating we shouldn’t silence his accusers, it is equally important to approach Michael Jackson’s history with an open mind.
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