In a curious verdict reflecting disdain for the character and lifestyles of both plaintiff and defendant, jurors awarded former gay porn producer F. Marc Schaffel $900,000 and Michael Jackson $200,000 in competing lawsuits over unpaid royalties, loans, and expenses stemming from the production of two videos, a charity single, and various other services Schaffel performed for Jackson.
As is his wont, in yet another trial, Jackson — this time via his lawyer and two videotaped depositions — sought to portray himself to jurors and the world as an innocent and delicate artist-naif adrift in a cold, cruel, uncomprehending world. Thomas C. Mundell, Jackson trial attorney, called his client "a gentle, trusting artist who is lonely and insulated from the world."
It didn't work this time.
"The plaintiff was not the most upstanding character and neither was the defendant," said juror Irma Beard.
"From the very beginning we were saying, 'He's a sleazeball'," said juror Cathleen Yancy. Asked which party she was describing, Yancy answered: "Both. I have issues with adult entertainment, but I also have issues with child molestation."
In Schaffel attorney Howard E. King's closing arguments, he showed deposition video clips of Jackson saying over and over again he couldn't remember details of his financial deals and transactions, contrasted with audio from a voice mail message Jackson left for Schaffel with detailed specifics for a project.
Schaffel originally sued for $3.8 million, later reduced to $1.6 million, with his attorney ultimately asked the jury for $1.4 million before deliberations began Thursday. Jackson's attorney said Schaffel owed the King of Pop $660,000 in funds removed from an expense account for unreleased charity single, "What More Can I Give," before Schaffel was fired in November 2001 in response to Jackson being shown a video of Schaffel directing gay porn.
"I was shown a videotape by the lawyer and I was shocked by what I saw. ... [Schaffel] was directing two guys. They were naked from head to toe ... and he was telling one what to do with the other and he grabbed their penis or something," said Jackson in a taped deposition.