Remembering The Time: On This Day Michael Jackson Was Acquitted Of All Charges 

Jackson 5 Portrait

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty

On June 13, 2005, nine years ago today, Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges. The stain of those allegations plagued him terribly during the last years of his life—and even now, nearly 15 years ago, they continue to haunt. It’s long past time for this posthumous character assassination to end. Let’s look back.

In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting the 13-year-old son of Evan Chandler, a dentist and screenwriter based in L.A. Jackson and the young Chandler had become friends after MJ rented a vehicle from the boy’s stepfather. Evan Chandler encouraged the friendship–until he didn’t. For reasons still unclear, Evans confronted his ex-wife about his suspicions.

Those suspicions–which came with no medical, physical or forensic evidence and a non-defining drawing by the boy, led to an extensive investigation, which included an intrusive strip search of the singer/songwriter. Failing to meet, even just barely, a criminal standard, Jackson was not charged. But because the elder Chandler sought relief in a civil court just as Michael was about to undertake the second leg of his Dangerous World Tour, he settled out of court for over $15 million to make the family of Jordan Chandler go away.

Following that awful and ultimately unproven accusation, another person came forward with the charge that Michael had molested a 13-year-old boy, this one a cancer survivor. With the bad press that preceded this accusation, Michael was arrested and criminal charges were filed. The charge included the accusation that Michael had drugged the boy with alcohol in order to molest him.

Katherine Jackson arriving at court during the earlier Conrad Murray trial is seeking damages agains

Katherine Jackson Arriving in Court for Case Against Doctor Who Killed Michael Source: Irfan Khan / Getty

No evidence supported that charge–nor the charge of molestation.

Indeed—and despite all the rumor-mongering and whispering campaigns about him—on June 13, 2005, Michael Jackson was acquitted of every single one of the 14 counts. Many, especially in the Black community were relieved and felt vindicated, along with Michael and his family. Most of us, including me, continued to love and support Michael.

15 Years Later: Fake News?

And then, 15 years after Michael Jackson’s acquittal, and 10 years to the day of his shocking death on June 25th, 2009, a documentary, Leaving Neverland,was released at the Sundance Film Festival. Relying on the testimony of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, it reignited the suspicions against Michael Jackson.  Robson, and Safechuck said in the film that Jackson had groomed them and  molested them over several years between 1988 and 1992 at his Neverland Ranch in California.

The inaccuracies of their respective stories received far less attention than their allegations–but they were reported. The Sun, a UK outlet, used aerial pictures to demonstrate Safechucks’s claim that he was raped in Jackson’s  Neverland’s train station could not be true. All the evidence showed that the station didn’t even exist during the years he said he spent time there.

The documentary, Square One, by Danny Wu and also released in 2019, was praised by film critic, Josiah Teal, of Film Threat. He wrote that,  “I found this film very insightful, opening new perspectives on the entire legacy of Michael Jackson.”

The documentary untangles the web of lies around Michael beginning with the first lie, by Evan Chandler–who seems to be more of a blackmailer than concerned father. He’d initially asked for $20 million to not make that first accusation. He then was willing to accept $1 million. Jackson declined both. That’s when Chandler went public. As for the criminal case, it fell apart when the younger Evans’ suddenly refused to testify. It didn’t matter, perhaps, because by then, of course, the settlement–which actually came out to  $15,331,250—had been reached.

Teal, giving the film a 4/4 stars went on to declare that, “It seems that there have been several counter-arguments raised against the [statements] found in “Leaving Neverland” but Wu’s film manages to stand tallest amongst them all.”

But hubris and mendacity often win the day in this era of bullying. Because despite the public refutations of their statements, Robson and Safechuck still attempted to sue Jackson’s estate. Their claims were tossed out of court several times and the public’s initial rejection of Jackson and his music because of the film, waned. Nevertheless, and despite how many times their claims have been tossed—and no matter that others including Macauley Caulkin  who was dragged into Robson’s and Safechuck’s claims–refuting their claims—they are still attempting to take from the Jackson’s estate.

Young Celebs Stand With Michael, Refute Leaving Neverland’s Allegations

In the immediate aftermath of Leaving Neverland though, many Black journalists turned their backs on Jackson. Some believed the accusers and wrote Jackson off forever, even as Robson and Safechuck’s accusations began to lose steam–and  Jackson’s music continued to be streamed at high volumes.

Still, it  was bizarre to watch the Robson and Safechuck show considering what happened in other celebrity sexual violence cases. Think about it:

  • When one accuser came forward about comedian Bill Cosby, many more came forward with their stories.

  • When one accuser came forward about singer/songwriter R. Kelly, many more came forward.

  • When one accuser came forward about film mogul Harvey Weinstein, many more came forward.

But when Robson and Safechuck came forward and even named several other alleged victims in Leaving Neverland, including Corey Feldman, Macaulay Culkin, and Bret Barnes, not only did no one else come forward, but Feldman, Culkin and Barnes voiced strong support for Jackson. In fact, another person named, the singer, Aaron Carter came forward to say he was offered payment to lie about Jackson.

Was Michael Jackson Targeted For Other Reasons?

But why did any of this happen in the first place? Why was Michael a target?

Was it just about greedy white parents or individuals?  It’s hard to know. What we can be certain of is that, as Zack O’Malley Greenburg argued in a 2012 Forbes Magazine article that Michael was a shrewd businessman who was supported by shrewd advisors. In the year following his death, for example, Jackson earned $275 million. That was more than Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Beyoncé—combined, Forbes reported.

As far back as 1985, Jackson paid  $47.5 million–which proved to be a steal—to buy the publishing catalog that contained 250 Beatle songs. By 1995, Sony paid Jackson almost twice that amount–$90 million–to get half of the rights, putting a new spin on what Black people have always said: we have to work twice as hard to get half as much. Not so Michael Jackson. Today, Jackson’s estate is still partnered with Sony, the catalog has swollen from 250 songs to half-a-million, and the catalog includes some of the work by artists like Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley (!) and Eminem and other artists. From the time Jackson bought the first catalog rights until the year after his death, its value had increased some 3,000 percent according to Forbes.

Erasing Jackson’s legacy is not something his critics and detractors will soon–if ever–or be able to accomplish. And maybe Rolling Stone will one day be held accountable for its 2023 reiteration of stories long-proven false. Because in the end, it’s not just the acquittals, not just the proven lies of his accusers or because he sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide for over 40 years.

It was how he did it.

Jackson built his reputation as arguably the most prodigious vocalist popular music had seen in the 20th century. His stellar singing, peerless charisma as a live performer and dancer, and his exceptional songwriting talents influenced several generations of entertainers across several genres.

More, he used his platform nobly and with humility. From the idealistic, hopeful songs of “Can You Feel It,” “We Are the World,” and “Man in the Mirror,” to the biting social commentary of “Black or White,” “Scream,” and “Earth Song,” Jackson wanted to make the world better than how he found it.

Michael Always Loved Us

Through it all, he never turned his back on his day-one fans, the Black community. Amid the rollercoaster of false accusations and rumors that stalked him since his mid-30s, the Black community by-and-large continued to weather the storm with him because we loved him. We grew up with Jackson, identified with the pain he suffered because of constant bullying. We were and continue to be, soothed by his gentleness and moved by his fierceness.

And despite his stature as the King of Pop, Jackson never lost touch with the Black community. Jackson stood firm in his Blackness through not only his musical output but  his charitable contributions to organizations like the United Negro College Fund—all while people made fun of him turning white, unaware of his struggle with vitiligo that zapped the pigment from his skin. We loved him.

And of course, we also knew how unsupported accusations could be used against us—we the people of America who are born guilty and forced to spend a lifetime proving our innocence.

But Michael was us and we were Michael. Unlike some other celebrities who sought coverage in magazines that engaged primarily white audiences,  many of Michael’s  high-profile cover stories were collaborations with Black publications, including Ebony, Jet, and Vibe. And although he was the biggest celebrity in the world, Jackson never shied away from showing up at Black events and award shows.

He was consistent in his commitment to engage and lift up Black communities. During the 1980s and 1990s, Jackson frequently attended shows that specifically engaged Black audiences: the Soul Train Awards and the NAACP Image Awards, for example. They were hardly mainstream back then but in 1993, Jackson incredibly, memorably and impressively performed his hit single “Remember the Time” at the Soul Train Awards—despite him being forced to sit in a chair. He was taken up to receive the awards that night in a wheelchair.

Today, many of the biggest Black crossover stars tend to skip over those award ceremonies, but never Jackson.

One of Jackson’s final appearances at an award show came at the 2003 BET Awards. On that day, James Brown, one of Jackson’s mentors and key influences, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. At the end of Brown’s performance, Jackson appeared unannounced to ceremoniously place a cape on Brown’s back. It was part of Brown’s act for decades. The audience greeted Jackson with a thunderous ovation, after which Jackson presented Brown his award with a handwritten speech, honoring his hero. Six years later, the 2009 BET Awards would honor Jackson just three days after his death. They redid their entire program to tribute him.

And today Michael Jackson is as popular as ever. His music continues to sell and stream at an exceptionally  high level, and a highly anticipated biopic, Michael, is slated for a 2025 release via Lionsgate. A Broadway musical about his life, MJ the Musical, is one of Broadway’s biggest hits. The production won four Tony Awards in 2022, has grossed over $198 million to date, and has expanded to become a national tour and an international hit, with residencies in London and Germany.

In the end, while there are some exceptions, the Black community, as a whole, continues loving Michael Jackson and his music because he showed that love in return during his life. And it’s likely also worth noting that following Jackson’s death, the FBI disclosed that while he had been under investigation from 1992 to 2005, they concluded that no evidence of criminal behavior was ever found. We can only wish he lived to hear those words spoken and see them published.


Michael Jackson Biopic Gets Green Light, Antoine Fuqua Set As Film’s Director

Nia Long Joins Colman Domingo To Portray Michael Jackson’s Parents In Upcoming Biopic

Michael Jackson at LA Sports Arena

The post Remembering The Time: On This Day Michael Jackson Was Acquitted Of All Charges  appeared first on NewsOne.

Read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.