The prosecution in the Michael Jackson case is shooting for the moon, alleging twisted and nefarious behavior almost beyond belief. Are they overreaching?
- Michael Jackson held a teenage boy and his family virtual prisoners at his Neverland ranch as the pop star conducted a bizarre campaign to both save his image from ruin and seduce the youth, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
But Jackson’s lead attorney shot back that the 10-count child molestation and conspiracy indictment against his client was “absurd” and predicted that the case would ultimately be “laughed out of court” by a jury.
The exchange came as defense lawyers fought to have the indictment dismissed. Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville put off ruling on that request but postponed trial for four months, until Jan. 31, saying that both sides needed more time to prepare.
Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss, in spelling out the prosecution theory of the case in public for the first time, said Jackson’s criminal conduct was triggered by a worldwide furor over his behavior in a 2003 British television documentary.
In that film, Jackson is seen holding hands with the young boy at the center of the case and attempting, Auchincloss said, to “justify to himself and perhaps to the world his attachment and behavior with pre- and post-adolescent boys.”
The prosecutor said: “Michael Jackson’s rationalization of his conduct on international television was his downfall. His reputation was completely and utterly ruined (as were) his image, his empire, his career. The documentary brought Jackson’s whole world crashing down.”
Auchincloss said a desperate Jackson then set about enticing the youth, who is identified in court only as “John Doe” and his family back to Neverland where they were forced to film a video praising Jackson.
But even as Jackson and members of his camp tried to manipulate and intimidate the family, Auchincloss said, the star had designs on the boy and cut him off from his mother. Then Jackson plied the youth with alcohol to seduce him, Auchincloss said.
“There were late nights, no homework, no school, alcohol … a world of indulgence for children,” Auchincloss said, which led to “an ultimately successful effort to get the victim sleeping in bed” with Jackson.”
Auchincloss said the singer had turned his Neverland ranch about 100 miles north of Los Angeles “into an enormous luxury resort and amusement park literally designed to entice and attract children.” [Reuters]
All I can say is goddamn. The BBC adds:
- “It [the ranch] is an isolated and gated area where Michael Jackson could carry out his plans [of] false imprisonment, child abduction and extortion,” Mr Auchincloss said.
AP adds some flavor and commentary:
- The prosecutor then said Jackson gave the boy and his family luxurious gifts, flew them to exotic vacations where they met celebrities and took them to his Neverland ranch to make a “rebuttal video” in which they would say that nothing sexual happened between the boy and Jackson. But according to their timeline, nothing did happen until much later.
….Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. ridiculed the assumption that the trips constituted false imprisonment, saying, “The idea that they were imprisoned and forced to fly on private jets to Florida, to socialize with celebrities such as Chris Tucker, is absurd on its face. It would be laughed out of court by a jury.”
….One trial observer, defense attorney Steve Cron, said of the story so far: “It would seem sort of weird that he would get this kid on tape saying he had not done anything and then he would go out and do it.”
….”It’s not what we expected as the theory,” said Loyola University Law School professor Laurie Levenson. “It seems backwards.”
….Levenson said, “This either portrays a faulty prosecution theory or a bold and reckless act by Jackson. … There may be a fine line between whether he was committing a criminal act or showing the family a good time.”
I would guess intent is the key to this, and intent will be hard to prove.