On November 18, 2003 an arrest warrant was issued for Michael Jackson based on a 13-year-old boy Gavin Arvizo’s allegations that Jackson had sexually molested him in February-March, 2003. The case resulted in a criminal trial in 2005 where Jackson was found not guilty on all counts. Here you can find the timeline that outlines the main events that took place between 2000, when Jackson first met his later accuser, and the 2005 acquittal. While you go along with the timeline you will find links to longer articles. Alternatively you may read the articles in this chronological order of the events.
In any case, these articles explain the events listed in the timeline in-depth and they are essential for understanding the case.
June 2000 – A then 10-year-old boy Gavin Arvizo becomes ill with a rare type of cancer. His doctors remove one of his kidneys and spleen and begin chemotherapy. While at the hospital Gavin asks comedian Jamie Masada, who regularly visits him and whom he knows from the Laugh Factory where he attended comedy classes before his illness, to help him meet certain celebrities and one day he asks to meet Michael Jackson. Masada testified at Jackson’s trial in 2005 that he did not personally know Michael Jackson, but he managed to contact his people and tell them about Gavin’s request. Jackson called the boy in the hospital and they talked for about five minutes, according to Gavin’s testimony in 2005. During the conversation Jackson invited Gavin and his family to his Neverland Ranch. According to Gavin’s 2005 testimony Jackson called him about 20 other times during his illness – sometimes in the hospital, sometimes in his grandmother’s home where Gavin lived at the time in a sterile room.
August 2000 – The Arvizos meet Michael Jackson in person for the first time when after the first round of Gavin’s chemotherapy the Arvizo family visits Neverland. The family at the time consisted of Gavin, his older sister Davellin, his one year younger brother Star, their mother Janet Arvizo and their father David Arvizo.
On that first visit Gavin and Star ask to sleep in Jackson’s bedroom. This is the night that is referenced in the 2003 Martin Bashir documentary entitled Living with Michael Jackson that caused big public uproar, even though both Gavin and Jackson made it clear that while the kids slept on the bed, Jackson slept on the floor. What is not mentioned in the documentary is the fact that not only Jackson did not sleep in the same bed as Gavin and Star, but he also insisted on his personal assistant Frank Cascio to sleep in the room as well. The Arvizos do not claim molestation occurring that night. For details see the chapter An introduction of the Arvizo family and how their relationship with Michael Jackson started.
August 2000 – September 2002 – After the first personal encounter with the Arvizos in August 2000 there is not much contact between Gavin and Jackson until the shooting of the Martin Bashir documentary about two years later in September 2002. According to Gavin’s own testimony they were allowed to go to Neverland and they did at least 7-10 times during that period, but most of the time Jackson was not there and when he was, he actively avoided them. While Jackson personally kept his distance from the Arvizo family, but he still did things to help them. In October 2000 he gave the family a white van as a gift. He also allowed the Arvizos to use Neverland for a blood drive for Gavin and all his employees donated blood. For details see the chapter An introduction of the Arvizo family and how their relationship with Michael Jackson started.
May 2001 – Gavin’s father and mother David and Janet Arvizo separate – according to Janet Arvizo’s 2005 testimony because David physically abused her and the children.
The Summer of 2001 – Both the laptop and the van Jackson had given the Arvizos the previous year break down and the family sends them back to Jackson to have them repaired. According to the Arvizos they never see any of the items again.
September 24, 2001 – The Arvizo family reaches an out of court settlement with the J. C. Penney department store. The subject of the case is an allegation by the Arvizo family that in 1998 J.C. Penney guards beat up Janet, David, Gavin and Star Arvizo in a parking lot and they sexually abused Janet Arvizo. The guards followed the family in the parking lot because Gavin was caught stealing two school uniforms and two school uniform pants. The Arvizos then managed to turn it around into a physical and sexual abuse lawsuit against the J. C. Penney guards. At Jackson’s 2005 trial evidence and testimony showed that the family lied under oath in depositions in that case.
The Spring of 2002 – The Arvizos spend a few days at Neverland with the actor Chris Tucker to celebrate the birthday of latter’s infant son. Jackson is not present.
September, 2002 – British journalist and television host Martin Bashir works on a documentary with Michael Jackson entitled Living with Michael Jackson. During the creation of that documentary Bashir suggested to Jackson that in the film he could show the public how the singer helped children with serious illnesses. As one of the possible options Jackson invites the Arvizo children to Neverland who then appear in the documentary. Bashir exploits Jackson’s poor judgement in public relations and portrays the relationship between Jackson and the boy in a false, misleading, manipulative way – a fact that even Gavin admitted in his testimony in 2005. After the shooting of the scene the Arvizo children stayed at the ranch for one night, but Jackson immediately left after the segment and he was again unavailable to Gavin. For details see the chapter entitled Martin Bashir’s documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson”.
February 3 & 6, 2003 – Martin Bashir’s Living with Michael Jackson documentary airs in the United Kingdom (February 3) and then in the USA (February 6).
February 5-6, 2003 – Trying to fight the negative publicity resulting from the Bashir documentary Jackson’s team decides to hold a press conference with the Arvizo family in Miami on February 5 or 6, 2003. The press conference eventually is called off, but the Arvizos do travel to Miami with actor Chris Tucker to participate in it in support of Jackson. Jackson and the Arvizos then return to Neverland on February 7-8. The family remains there, on and off, until March 12. For details see the chapters entitled The fallout resulting from the Bashir documentary and damage control by Jackson’s PR team.
February 7-March 12, 2003 – According to the Arvizos’ initial timeline and story during this period they were kept captive at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. However, evidence and testimonies show that during their alleged captivity the Arvizos went shopping several times, visited a lawyer, talked to Child Protective Services because of the Martin Bashir documentary and appeared in a Court regarding a child support debate with Janet Arvizo’s former husband, yet they never reported to authorities that they were allegedly being kidnapped and held against their will at Neverland. For details read the chapter entitled The Conspiracy Charge.
Initially the Arvizos claimed that the molestation of Gavin by Jackson started as soon as they returned from Miami on February 7, 2003. However, after the emergence of evidence that made this claim hard to defend, this timeline changed and in the final version of their story the Arvizos claimed that the alleged molestations started after February 20, 2003. This was not just a minor correction, but it significantly changed the initial narrative of the Arvizos’ story. For details read the chapter entitled The crucial period: February 7-March 12, 2003.
March 24, 2003 – Janet Arvizo formally hires civil attorney William Dickerman. Dickerman begins writing letters to Jackson’s attorney Mark Geragos on her behalf demanding the return of furniture, clothes, documents and various other items which were put in a storage locker after the Arvizos moved out of their Los Angeles apartment on March 1-2. There were numerous back and forth letters between the two attorneys about the issue of where and how the Arvizos would take possession of their belongings and who would pay the outstanding bill of the storage locker. In his letters Dickerman also claimed that Jackson’s people harrassed and followed around the Arvizo family after they left Neverland. However, nowhere in his letters were there any claims of child molestation, claims of false imprisonment or claims of providing alcohol to a minor. For details read the chapter entitled Lawyers being hired and the formation of the allegations.
May, 2003 – William Dickerman refers the Arvizos to another civil lawyer Larry Feldman, the same civil attorney who negotiated the $15 million settlement for the Chandlers in 1993-94. According to the Arvizos’ later story at this time Gavin had not yet disclosed his alleged abuse to anyone, including his mother or Dickerman, so at this time there were no such allegations yet. Feldman and Dickerman enter into a fee-sharing agreement with each other. For details read the chapter entitled Lawyers being hired and the formation of the allegations.
June, 2003 – Larry Feldman sends Gavin to a psychologist Dr. Stanley Katz. Katz was involved in the highly controversial McMartin case and also was the psychologist who evaluated Jackson’s 1993 accuser Jordan Chandler. This is all before Gavin made allegations of sexual abuse against Jackson. According to the Arvizos’ story Gavin first made his allegations to Dr. Katz. According to Larry Feldman’s testimony in 2005 he then disclosed Katz’s findings to Gavin’s mother Janet Arvizo. This contradicts the three other versions that the accusing side made about how Janet Arvizo supposedly found out about the alleged abuse of her son. For details read the chapters entitled Lawyers being hired and the formation of the allegations and The Changing Content of the Allegations and Contradictions.
June 13, 2003 – Larry Feldman reports Gavin’s allegations to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office.
July-September, 2003 – Investigators conduct several interviews with Gavin, Star, Davellin and Janet Arvizo. These interviews contain several contradictions with each other, as well as with the later versions of the Arvizos’ story. For details read the chapter entitled The Changing Content of the Allegations and Contradictions.
Please also see our article entitled General credibility problems with the Arvizo family for a general assessment and history of the Arvizo family.
November 18, 2003 – An arrest warrant is issued for Michael Jackson based on Gavin Arvizo’s allegations. Jackson at the time was in Las Vegas, but at the news of his arrest he returned to California and turned himself in. He was then released on a 3 million dollar bail. The same day, in Jackson’s absence, 70 sheriffs raided his home, the Neverland Ranch, to carry out a search warrant.
March-April, 2004 – A Grand Jury hears the prosecution’s side of the story (without the defense being present and without the prosecution’s witnesses being cross-examined) and indicts Jackson on April 21, 2004. The prosecution brought fourteen charges altogether: a conspiracy charge, four counts of lewd act upon a child (two claimed by the accuser, two allegedly witnessed by his brother), one attempt at committing a lewd act upon a child, four counts of administering alcohol to assist in the commission of a felony and four misdemeanor charges as the lesser offence of supplying alcohol to the accuser without the intention of molesting him.
February 28-June 3, 2005 – Jackson’s criminal trial.
June 13, 2005 – The Jury returns an unanimous Not Guilty verdict on all fourteen charges.