The Use of Sodium Amytal?

Mary A. Fischer, in her October, 1994 GQ Magazine article writes that when Jordan was sedated in his father’s office on July 16th, 1993, allegedly, he was administered the controversial drug Sodium Amytal, which studies have shown can make the human mind suggestible. Fischer wrote that through the use of Sodium Amytal false memories might have been implanted in Jordan’s mind.

While Fischer’s article is a valuable source in many respects, we have reasons to doubt this particular theory. Here is why.

According to Anthony Pellicano on August 4, 1993, about two weeks after Jordan’s sedation and alleged “confession”, while Evan read passages from Dr. Mathis Abrams’ letter to Jackson and his people at a meeting [details in the chapter The Chandlers’ Monetary Demands], when he arrived at the parts about child molestation “the boy, says Pellicano, put his head down and then looked up at Jackson with a surprised expression, as if to say “I didn’t say that.” [1]

Jordan’s uncle Ray Chandler himself uses this defense against the Sodium Amytal theory in an article he has written for his now defunct website (atgbook.net) in 2005:

“Ironically, the person who best refutes Fischer’s drug fairytale is none other than Anthony Pellicano. In December of 1993 Pellicano described Jordie’s behavior at the August 4 Westwood Marquis meeting as follows:

The father began to read the psychiatrists letter, which cited the criminal statutes that applied to child abuse. “Jordie was looking down,” [Pellicano said] “and he pops his head up and looks at Michael like, ‘I didn’t say that.’”

According to Pellicano, just two weeks after the alleged brainwashing Jordie wasn’t brainwashed at all! He was acting embarrassed and guilty about the accusations his father had made.” [2]

“Ironically”, with this defense against the Sodium Amytal theory Chandler acknowledges the credibility of Pellicano’s account: if Chandler brings up Pellicano’s account as a defense against the Sodium Amytal claim then logically that means he acknowledges it as accurate. Pellicano’s account supports the theory that Jordan’s memory was not altered on July 16.

Jackson’s 2005 attorney, Thomas Mesereau said he had witnesses who, if Jordan testified against Jackson at the 2005 trial, would tell the jury that Jordan privately confided in them that Jackson never molested him. If this is true then this too supports that Jordan’s memory was not altered.

Ray Chandler in his book and article admits that Jordan was sedated on July 16 for a minor dental procedure (pulling a baby tooth), so that is not in question, but he denies that Sodium Amytal was used. In his 2005 article Ray Chandler speculatively tries to attribute the origination of the Sodium Amytal story to Jackson’s camp, but Fischer cites her sources for the story, none of whom belong to the Jackson camp.

One of her sources was a report by “a newsman at KCBS-TV”. We know from Ray Chandler’s 2005 article that the newsman was Harvey Levin (since then known as the founder of celebrity gossip website TMZ). Fischer wrote in 1994:

“A newsman at KCBS-TV, in L.A., reported on May 3 of this year [1994] that Chandler had used the drug on his son, but the dentist claimed he did so only to pull his son’s tooth and that while under the drug’s influence, the boy came out with allegations.” [1]

From the wording (“the dentist claimed” and the emphasis on that it was used “only to pull his son’s tooth”) it seems that the source of Levin’s information was  Evan Chandler himself or someone on his side, but Ray Chandler in his article denies this. Mary Fischer herself asked Mark Torbiner, Evan’s Anesthesiologist, the person who supposedly sedated Jordan, and he answered somewhat ambiguously: “If I used it, it was for dental purposes” [1]. Ray Chandler in 2005 cannot get a flat-out denial from Torbiner either. In the footnotes to his article he writes:

“Fischer claimed that she spoke to Torbiner and that he told her “If I used it [the drug], it was for dental purposes.” Dr. Torbiner would not respond to inquiries about what, if anything, he told Fischer. His attorney stated that Torbiner was bound by the doctor-patient privilege and could not discuss the issue without written consent from his patient.” [2]

We don’t know Levin’s sources for his claim, but we do know that Fischer’s source, Mark Torbiner was a member of the Chandler camp, not the Jackson camp. Though he did not directly claim he used Sodium Amytal on Jordan, but he made an ambiguous statement about it.

In the spring of 1994, when this story first appeared through Harvey Levin, there was a high profile child abuse trial featured in the American media with the protaginist Sodium Amytal. In that case a 23-year-old woman, Holly Ramona accused her father of raping her when she was a child. However, her father counter-sued Holly’s therapist for implanting false memories in her mind with hypnosis and with the use of Sodium Amytal.  In that trial, evidence revealed that the drug was unreliable. [3]

At the time the prosecution in the Jackson case were still pursuing the Chandlers to testify against the entertainer in a criminal case. Los Angeles district attorney, Gil Garcetti said right after the Chandler settlement in January 1994:

“The criminal investigation of singer Michael Jackson is ongoing and will not be affected by the announcement of the civil case settlement,” Garcetti said. “The district attorney’s office is taking Mr. [Larry] Feldman [the Chandlers’ attorney] at his word that the alleged victim will be allowed to testify and that there has been no agreement in the civil matter that will affect cooperation in the criminal investigation.” [4]

A claim that Sodium Amytal was used on Jordan would be a good way for the Chandlers to impeach him and allege that his memories are unreliable and thus get the prosecution off their back. At the time the Chandlers already had their money from the civil settlement and never wanted to testify in a criminal court [for details see the later chapter about The Settlement]. (Of course, in 2005 the Chandlers would not need this Sodium Amytal story any more, so Ray Chandler could go back denying it – and blaming it on the Jackson camp at that.)

It is certainly an unusual and suspicious thing to sedate someone supposedly just to pull a baby tooth. It makes it even more suspicious when we know that Evan Chandler and his anesthesiologist were allegedly involved in questionable “medical” practices. Actress Carrie Fisher wrote in her 2011 autobiography Shockaholic:

“But getting back to the special medical access I mentioned earlier, I had this dentist at the time, a Dr. Evan Chandler, who was a very strange character. He was what would be referred to as the Dentist to the Stars! And as one of the people who would have unnecessary dental work just for the morphine, this man was one of those people who could arrange such a welcome service. He referred his patients to a mobile anesthesiologist who would come into the office to put you out for the dental work. And as if that wasn’t glorious enough, this anesthesiologist could also be easily and financially persuaded to come to your house to administer the morphine for your subsequent luxury pain relief. And I would extend my arms, veins akimbo, and say to this man—“Send me away, but don’t send me all the way.” [5]

So it remains a possibility that Evan did drug his son to try to manipulate him in some way, whether with Sodium Amytal or something else, but if Pellicano’s account is true (and we can conclude it is from the fact that Ray Chandler uses it as their defense against the Sodium Amytal claim) it appears the attempt was not successful and Evan eventually needed other methods to get his son say what he wanted him to say.

In any case, whether Sodium Amytal was used or not is not pivotal in this case at all. As you can read in the previous chapter [How Did The Allegations of the Chandlers Emerge?], the Chandlers’ own version of how Jordan came up with the allegations is very problematic in itself, even without the introduction of Sodium Amytal into the story.

Sources:

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

[2] Raymond Chandler’s article on his now defunct website (Allthatglittersbook.com, Atgbook.com, Atgbook.net, January-February, 2005)
http://web.archive.org/web/20050208010747/atgbook.net/GQFinal.html

[3] Dennis Dutton: A Family Torn Asunder (July 20, 1997)
http://www.napanet.net/~moiraj/santafe.html

[4] Jackson Settles Abuse Suit but Insists He Is Innocent : Courts: Singer will reportedly pay $15 million to $24 million to teen-ager. Criminal investigation will proceed. (Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1994)
http://articles.latimes.com/1994-01-26/news/mn-15478_1_michael-jackson

[5] Carrie Fisher – Shockaholic (Simon & Schuster, November 2011)

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