The Media’s Role In The Allegations Against Michael Jackson

While the prosecution, both in 1993 and in 2005, struggled to find credible corroborating “victims” in support of their case against Michael Jackson, much of the media, rather than report impartial and factual events, corrupted the legal proceedings by offering monetary rewards to people who were willing to make up slanderous lies about Jackson and his relationship with children. In this article we will show you some examples of what is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Those who were tempted, but resisted

During Jackson’s 2005 trial, Fox News’ Roger Friedman met with a family, the Newts, who told him that when Jackson’s first scandal went public in 1993, the National Enquirer offered them $200,000 to say that in the 1980s the then 11-year-old twin boys of the family had been molested or improperly touched by Jackson.

In the mid-80s the twin boys, Robert and Ronald Newt Jr. were aspiring child performers, managed by Michael Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson. The Newts explained that the National Enquirer had learned that in 1985 they spent two weeks in the Jackson’s Encino family home as guests. They approached the family and offered the boys’ father, Ronald Newt Sr. $200,000 to say Michael Jackson was sexually inappropriate with his sons.

Robert Newt was 18 years old in 1993 when he and his father were contacted by a National Enquirer reporter, Jim Mitteager, whom they agreed to meet with at the Marriot Hotel in San Francisco. Mitteager wanted to pay them to lie.

“He said, ‘Say he grabbed you on the butt. Say he grabbed you and touched you in any kind of way,’” Newt said. “He told us he took all these people down. Now he was going to take Michael down. That he would really destroy him. He told us he took all these other famous people down. All the major people that had scandals against them. He said, ‘We take these people down. That’s what we do.’”

[…]

“My dad said these dudes are offering this money to take Michael Jackson down. And the guy [Mitteager] said, ‘Say he touched you. All you have to do is say it. But you might have to take the stand. You might have to go on ‘Oprah’ in front of all these people. You have to be prepared for this thing. Just say it. And we’ll give you money,’” Newt said.” [1]

According to Friedman, the Newts had evidence of their story, the contract that was given to them by Mitteager and signed by David Perel, who was the editor of the tabloid at the time. The Newts refused to sign the contract and told the tabloid that they were not willing to accuse Jackson of anything.

“The contract, written as a letter, says it’s an agreement between the tabloid and the Newts for their exclusive story regarding “your relationship with and knowledge of Michael Jackson, and his sexuality, your knowledge of Michael Jackson’s sexual contact and attempts at sexual contact with Robert Newt and others.” [1]

According to Robert Newt, Mitteager knew nothing had happened but wanted them to lie nevertheless:

“He didn’t care! He was like, ‘Just say it and we’ll give you the money.’ And I was like, ‘He [Jackson] never touched me!” Newt said. “He [Mitteager] was really fishing and really digging. Think about it — most people you say it to, ‘We’ll give you this money,’ even [if it’s not true]. And they’d take it.”

[…]

“He was trying to coach me — if I decided to take the money, what would happen. He said ‘You know, it’s going to be a huge scandal. You’ll probably have a lot of people not liking you. You’re going to be famous!’ But to me, you’d be ruined. And the truth is Michael didn’t do anything even close to trying to molest us.” [1]

Friedman had another piece of evidence, independent from the Newts, to back up their story: Mitteager had a habit of taping his conversations. After he died, his tapes were handed over to private investigator, Paul Barresi. Those tapes, according to Friedman, included Mitteager’s negotiations with the Newts.

The Newts’ story is not unique and could be considered the norm in the media’s handling of the allegations against Michael Jackson. In 1993, Jackson’s cousin, Tim Whitehead disclosed to Geraldo Riveira’s television show that he was offered $100,000 by a tabloid to say Jackson was gay. In the same episode, television show actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who as a child in 1984 appeared in a Pepsi commercial with Jackson (and who is best known for his role as Carlton in the Will Smith sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) told that his father “was offered $100,000 by a tabloid to say anything negative about Michael Jackson” [2]. Whitehead and Ribeiro firmly stated that they never saw Jackson act sexually inappropriate with any child and they never felt uncomfortable around him. [2]

Not everyone resisted the temptation of the money being offered by the tabloids. Many of these people, however, were quickly ruled out as credible witnesses even by this prosecution’s low standard for credibility.

Daniel Kapon

In 2003, Daniel Kapon was 18 years old when he, accompanied by his mother, contacted the Santa Barbara Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department claiming he had been sexually molested by Michael Jackson when he was a child. The young man was represented by Gloria Allred, an attorney who also represented the Chandlers for a short period of time in 1993. The claim was that Kapon had “repressed memories” of the molestation and therefore only recently recalled the abuse. The psychiatrist who helped Kapon “remember” was Dr. Carole Lieberman. Allred and Lieberman had filed earlier complaints against Jackson for the so called “baby dangling incident” and campaigned for Jackson’s children to be taken away from him. [3]

The police interviewed the boy but they did not find him credible. He described horrendously sadistic acts, kept changing his story and he claimed impossibilities. Most importantly, when the police contacted Kapon’s father, they learned the boy had never even met Michael Jackson.

On May 28, 2004 the police closed the investigation stating “after an extensive investigation, which included hours of interviews with the person making the allegations, detectives concluded there was no evidence that any crime occurred. No charges will be sought”. [4]

After the police closed their investigation, Kapon sold his story to the tabloid publication, News of the World. Reportedly, the tabloid paid him $500,000 for an approximate half hour video tape where he described the alleged abuse in graphic detail [5]. On May 30, 2004 the paper printed the story of Kapon’s allegations, but failed to mention that the police had already investigated his claims and did not find them credible. The article was published two days after the police released the statement stating that the case had been closed but at the end of the article, the journalist claimed that the investigation in Kapon’s case was actually ongoing [6].

Kapon also filed a civil complaint against Jackson. In his case, besides the allegations of sexual abuse, he claimed that a number of Jackson’s hit songs had been stolen from him, including songs on Jackson’s Bad album which was released in 1987. In 1987, Kapon was two years old. Kapon also claimed that he fathered the singer’s two eldest children; that his mother appeared in Jackson’s Thriller video and that Jackson was “madly in love” with her; that “his mother married Jackson multiple times, and testified that the ceremonies were attended by Elizabeth Taylor, Celine Dion, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Beyonce Knowles and Diana Ross” [7].

Daniel Kapon did not show up at start of the civil trial and the case was thrown out of court in January 2008.

Joseph Bartucci Jr.

Another accuser who, as it later turned out never even met Jackson, was a man called Joseph Bartucci Jr. Although he did not go to tabloids and “only” filed a civil lawsuit against Jackson, we will briefly discuss him in this article because his case has similarities to Kapon’s in terms of absurdity.

In 2004 Bartucci filed a civil lawsuit against Jackson claiming the star kidnapped and molested him in New Orleans between May 19 and May 27, 1984. Bartucci alleged that Jackson cut him, licked the blood off of his arm and proceeded to snort coke off of the laceration – all while raping him. Bartucci was 18 years old at the time of the alleged assault. As an explanation for why he waited until 2004, twenty years later to report this kidnapping, he too cited “repressed memories” that he claimed he only recalled when he heard that Thomas Sneddon was calling for alleged victims to come forward in November, 2003.

Jackson was not in New Orleans but in California at the time of the alleged assault, a fact that could be easilly proven by the entertainer’s attorneys, so Judge Eldon Fallon tossed the lawsuit. It also emerged that Bartucci was, as Judge Fallon put it, a “professional litigator”. He had been involved in 18 civil and criminal suits over the previous 17 years and had also formally accused a minister of sexual abuse [8].

According to an article by The Smoking Gun website, in 1996 Bartucci was arrested for stalking a woman: “According to court records, Bartucci took a plea to a reduced count of harassment and was fined, sentenced to probation, and hit with a 90-day suspended jail term.” [9]

Terry George

Terry George never filed a lawsuit against Jackson and in fact never reported his allegations to authorities but he was a frequent source for British tabloid stories in the wake of the 1993 Chandler scandal and has since been at their disposal whenever a tabloid story about Michael Jackson being inappropriate with children is required.

George, a disc jockey at the time, gained notoriety on August 29, 1993 when only six days after the Chandler case was first reported by the media, he appeared in British tabloids claiming that Jackson had been inappropriate with him in 1979, when Jackson was 20 and he was 13 years old.

George was a celebrity-obsessed teenager who regularly sought out celebrities, sneaked into their hotels to meet them, asked for their autographs and hoarded photos and taped interviews of them. As an adult George, who now amongst other businesses, runs a gay adult phone chat service, still likes to present himself as someone associated with celebrities. According to George, he met Michael Jackson in a hotel in February of 1979 while the Jacksons were on tour in the UK. He actually taped an interview with Michael and his brother, Randy, which was later aired on local radio stations. After the interview, George claimed, Michael Jackson asked for his telephone number and Jackson then regularly called him for about three months. George alleged that during these phone calls Jackson was once inappropriate with him, speaking about masturbation and masturbating while he was on the phone with him.

In the article it is claimed that the phone contact ended when George’s parents realized that he had run up a high telephone bill calling the US. (Please take note of the fact that it was George who was calling the US and also that even according to his own story it was George who was stalking the star, not the other way around.) George then tried to reach Jackson from a phone box but claimed that Jackson would not take his calls: according to one of the original 1993 tabloid articles “it became clear his superstar friend didn’t want to know” [10].

George, however, kept stalking Jackson. According to the article, “the final rejection came four years later when Terry tried to rekindle their friendship when Jackson came to London again. Terry tracked him down and was even photographed alongside his idol, but now the management were on hand to issue the polite brush-off.” [10]

In the article George concludes that Jackson rejected him because he was no longer a child, however this contradicts the earlier claim that Jackson actually refused to take his phone calls four years earlier, when George was still 13.

In a 2003 documentary entitled Louis, Martin & Michael and made by British broadcaster, Louis Theroux, George spoke about his alleged “friendship” with Jackson. George proudly recalled his phone conversations with Jackson as a happy and joyful experience. It is Theroux who brings up his 1993 tabloid allegation that Jackson was inappropriate with him on the phone. George is reluctant to talk about that and claims what was printed “came out really without my authority” [11]. When Theroux asks him if the story was true, George claims “parts of it are true” [11] but adds that papers twisted and sensationalized it. Then, after stating he did not want to talk about that because “it is well documented in the papers” [11], he tries to go back to discussing what a great “friendship” allegedly he had with Jackson. [11]

Unfortunately the contradiction between the story being “well documented” in the papers and the claim that papers twisted and sensationalized it, is not resolved in the interview and George makes no attempt to make it clear what parts of the story, according to his current position, are true and what parts are not.

In the Theroux interview, George also says that it is unfortunate that the focus of the media has been on this small detail of the story, when they had such a great “friendship” otherwise. We are to believe that when George went to the tabloid media with these claims, six days after the Chandler allegations became public, he did not know what impact this story would have and what people would focus on. In actuality, it is safe to say that this hook, the masturbation claim, is just what George needed to include in his story to be picked up and printed by the tabloid media at all and to lend George national and international notoriety. Why did he make his allegations in the tabloids, which are known to pay money for such claims, instead of contacting the prosecutors in the Chandler case?

In January 2005, on his website George criticized tabloids for rehashing his story from 1993 and claiming that he would be a prosecution witness at Jackson’s upcoming trial. Despite this criticism and George’s claim to Theroux that the original story had been released without his authority, sensationalized by the media and that the “small detail” about the alleged masturbation had received disproportionate attention, in February 2005, shortly after Jackson’s trial began, George appeared in Martin Bashir’s slanderous documentary entitled Michael Jackson’s Secret World and rehashed the original story that was printed in the tabloids in 1993, adding even more focus on the masturbation claim.

Although the tabloid articles in 1993 claimed that George was ready to help investigators in the Chandler case, he never did. Based on Jackson’s FBI files, the FBI monitored George’s claims in the tabloid media, but then the prosecution never used him. Either the prosecution did not consider him credible and/or he was not willing to repeat his claims under oath and subject himself to a cross-examination about them. In 2005, on his website, he vehemently denied media reports that claimed he would be a prosecution witness at Jackson’s upcoming trial. Instead of testifying at Jackson’s trial and subjecting himself to cross-examination he chose to smear Jackson in the media and in Bashir’s documentary. His platform to make allegations against the star was always only the media and mainly the tabloids which are known to pay money for such allegations. George never testified about his claims under oath and was never cross-examined about them.

In 2009, in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death, George once again made his rounds in the British tabloids, now posing as a “friend” of the star and recounting stories with very questionable credibility. According to a June 28, 2009 Mirror article, George conveniently claimed that just before his death Jackson called him to apologize and they made up. “He phoned me out of the blue and we both made our peace about what had happened in the past. I’ve forgiven him for what happened” [12]. Not surprisingly, he had no evidence for this alleged phone call and once again we are just supposed to take George’s word for it.

George used the opportunity to make false statements in order to promote a website he set up in 2005, Gone Too Soon, curiously bearing the name of a Michael Jackson song, although it has no association with the star.

“Terry also revealed that Jacko had taken a strong interest in the website he’d founded, Gonetoosoon.org – where users post tributes to people who die young.

“He had been on the site and said he was touched to see some of tBhe messages,” he said. “It had left him very sad and emotional.” [12]

No other child has ever claimed that Jackson masturbated while on the phone. Several recordings exist of private phone conversations Jackson had with children, as people often taped their telephone conversations with him without his knowledge and consent, but no tapes have shown that Jackson ever behaved inappropriately with children. On the contrary, all of his taped phone conversations with children are very innocent. Terry George could never present evidence for his claims either (consider that he often taped his conversations with celebrities), though there is plenty evidence of his opportunism.

Prosecution witnesses sponsored by tabloids

Although the likes of Kapon, Bartucci and George never made it on the stand, the prosecution did not shy away from using people who were previously paid money by tabloids. Most of the people called in support of the prosecution’s “prior bad acts” allegations at Jackson’s 2005 trial were these types of witnesses. Blanca Francia, Ralph Chacon, Adrian McManus, Kassim Abdool all had to admit on the stand that they were paid money by the tabloid media. Phillip LeMarque also admitted to have asked tabloids for $100,000 and then $500,000 for his story. Jackson’s former public relations man, Bob Jones wrote a sensationalist book about the star – admittedly to make money because he was broke. On the stand he admitted that the salacious story about Jordan Chandler and Jackson that he included in the book (the reason why he was called to testify) was not true. This made prosecutor Gordon Auchincloss, who did his questioning, argumentative with the witness and he made attempts to impeach him. Remember, Jones was the prosecution’s own witness.

There are former employees who did not appear at Jackson’s trial as prosecution witnesses but instead made their rounds in the media and were richly compensated for making slanderous claims. The “Hayvenhurst 5”, as dubbed by the media, was a group of bodyguards (Leroy Thomas, Morris Williams, Donald Starks, Fred Hammond, Aaron White) who formally worked at the Jackson family’s Encino home. In November 1993 they went to Diane Dimond’s televised news program, Hard Copy and claimed they were fired because they “knew too much” about JackMarson’s relationship with children. According to Mary A. Fischer’s 1994 GQ Magazine article:

“Purporting to take the journalistic high road, Hard Copy’s Diane Dimond told Frontline in early November of last year that her program was “pristinely clean on this. We paid no money for this story at all.” But two weeks later, as a Hard Copy contract reveals, the show was negotiating a $100,000 payment to five former Jackson security guards who were planning to file a $10 million lawsuit alleging wrongful termination of their jobs.”[13]

The bodyguards never reported to authorities that they saw any inappropriate behavior by Jackson towards children. In fact, in depositions given to the police they admitted they never saw anything inappropriate. Their lawsuit was thrown out of court in July, 1995.

A Filipino couple, Mariano “Mark” and Ofelia “Faye” Quindoy, who worked for Jackson between 1989 and 1990, sold stories to the tabloid media in 1993 in the wake of the Chandler allegations, claiming that they quit because they were so disturbed by what they witnessed Jackson do with children. However, they were not disturbed enough to report what they saw to the authorities. In actuality, a lawsuit they filed against Jackson claiming he owed them $283,000 in overtime reveals that the real reason they left their employment with Jackson was because of disagreement about their wages and conflicts with other employees.

The Quindoys gave a television interview about a year before the Chandler scandal, in which they never mentioned any impropriety by Jackson towards children. In that interview they described Jackson as “the shyest person in the world” [2].

Additionally, in 1992 the couple was also interviewed by Allan Hall, a reporter from the British tabloid, The Sun. Hall also attested to the fact that at the time they had nothing bad to say about Jackson:

“The Sun drew up a contract for $25,000 and I spent some time with them in Los Angeles doing the Life and Times with Michael Jackson… [They] didn’t have a bad word to say about the guy, not one bad thing… Nothing, absolutely nothing. That he was just a kind man with children.” [14]

Hall remarked:

“They are two people that I would not trust at all. And I think that they have really gone to town to do Michael Jackson down for the mighty dollar. Now they see money being offered around again and they want some more.” [14]

In 1993, the Quindoys’ own nephew, Glen Veneracion, a law student at the time, came forward and denounced his aunt and uncle as opportunists:

“I just feel bad that this is happening. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed to be related to these people. I’m ashamed for the people in our country. It’s an embarrassment It really is.” 

[…]

“What disturbs me the most out of all of this is that they waited so long. Why did it take them three years to come up with these allegations? That’s what really is disturbing. If this was true, they should have come out with it a long time ago instead of jumping on the bandwagon. They never said that Michael was a pedophile, they never said that Michael was gay, so I don’t know where this is coming from. I find it shocking. It’s very disturbing to me.” [2]

At the time, Veneracion said he would be willing to testify against his relatives if the case went to court.

After the Chandler case went public in 1993 the Quindoys did not contact authorities but went to tabloids instead with their new allegations. In the 1994 documentary Tabloid Truth: The Michael Jackson Scandal Diane Dimond revealed first the Quindoys wanted $900,000 for their story then they went down to $500,000. News of The World reporter, Stuart White disclosed in the same documentary that from his paper the Quindoys wanted about $250,000. [14]

Authorities eventually contacted the couple as a result of those tabloid stories. When asked why they did not turn to authorities with the information they now claimed to have, not even after the Chandler scandal went public, their answer was: “we were just witnesses not victims”.  Keep in mind that Mark Quindoy was a lawyer in his country.

The Quindoys also tried to shop around a book deal. In their attempt to get publishers interested they claimed they had “secret witnesses” that they formerly withheld from the District Attorney.

It is unknown exactly how much money the media paid out for the slander of Michael Jackson but it is safe to say it is probably in the millions. Instead of reporting facts and uncovering the truth, a large segment of the media enabled false allegations by paying people to make up stories about Jackson, knowing full well that they were lies that they could potentially put Jackson behind bars for the rest of his life. A jury could have been prejudiced by such articles and influenced by the prosecution witnesses who created their allegations only after being paid by the media. These were not innocent white lies, Jackson’s life was deeply affected by the character assassination and the emotional distress they put him through, yet the media and much of their audience actually considered these stories “entertainment”.

In addition to paying people for false allegations, the media also did their part in misleading the public and many of them were biased in their reporting on the Jackson criminal proceedings. During Jackson’s 2005 trial much of the media reported the salacious claims of the prosecution witnesses while failing to report the cross-examination of those same witness, where they were totally discredited. Although the payments for false allegations were mainly offered by tabloids, in the reporting of the Jackson trial there was hardly any difference between the tabloid stories and many “legitimate” news reports. Additionally the “serious media” often used, and still continues to use, tabloids as sources about Michael Jackson, thus blurring the line between tabloid journalism and serious reporting.

One of the latest examples of media manipulation about the Michael Jackson allegations is an article by British tabloid Sunday People/Mirror that was published on June 30, 2013 and went viral almost immediately, being quoted by several other publications – without these other publications vetting the information. The article claimed that the paper had insight into “secret FBI files” which “reveal Michael Jackson spent £23million (about $35 million) buying the silence of at least two dozen young boys he abused over 15 years”. This was not true and we will discuss it in detail in a later chapter entitled Did the FBI have evidence that Michael Jackson paid off dozens of young boys to silence them after he sexually abused them?

Sources:

[1] Roger Friedman – Former Protégé Vouches for Jacko (FoxNews.com, April 7, 2005)
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,152708,00.html

[2] Lisa Campbell – The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour (Branden Publishing Company Inc., Boston, 1994)

[3] Jennifer Vineyard – Jackson Camp Calls New Allegations A Smear Campaign (MTV.com, June 1, 2004)
http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1488069/new-jackson-allegations-called-malicious.jhtml

[4] Press release by the Los Angeles Police Department (June 2, 2004) http://www.lapdonline.org/press_releases/2004/06/pr04305.htm – the original link is not active any more, for a secondary source see http://vindicatemj.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/police-release-on-kapons-case-june-2-2004.png

[5] Mozart an Idiot! (OCweekly.com, January 12, 2006)
http://www.ocweekly.com/2006-01-12/music/mozart-an-idiot/

[6] Carole Aye Maung – Jacko filmed as he abused me; News Of the World investigates (News of the World, May 30, 2004)

[7] Lawsuit accusing Michael Jackson of molestation is dismissed (The Daily Breeze, January 15, 2008)
http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_7969754

[8] Judge: Jackson in California during claim (USA Today, April 18, 2006)
http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-04-18-jackson-follow-up_x.htm?csp=34

[9] New Jackson Accuser’s Stalk Rap (The Smoking Gun, November 10, 2004)
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/new-jackson-accusers-stalk-rap

[10] Tabloid articles of Terry George from 1993 attached to Jackson’s FBI files as released in 2009
http://vault.fbi.gov/Michael%20Jackson/Michael%20Jackson%2062%20File%20Part%201%20of%203/view (page 3)

[11] Interview with Terry George from the documentary “Louis, Martin & Michael” (documentary by Louis Theroux, November 16, 2003)

[12] First target of Michael Jackson’s obsession with boys says: ‘What he did was wrong.. but I forgive him’ (Mirror, June 28, 2009)
http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/first-target-of-michael-jacksons-obsession-402845

[13] Mary A. Fischer: Was Michael Jackson Framed? (GQ, October 1994)
http://www.buttonmonkey.com/misc/maryfischer.html

[14] Tabliod Truth – The Michael Jackson Scandal (documentary by Frontline, February 1994)

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