The world of pop culture would never be the same after Michael Jackson, music icon, was a accused of and stood trial for child molestation. ONe of the most famous trials in modern history, Jackson’s case divided fans and commentators, with many vouching for his innocence while others were more skeptical of the not guilty verdict. In Oxygen’s The Jury Speaks, premiering Saturday, July 22 at 9/8c, we take a closer look at what motivated the jurors on the case to come to their controversial decision. In the meantime, here are some of the most shocking facts from the Michael Jackson child molestation case.
1. It wasn’t the first time Jackson faced such allegations
The accusations made against Jackson in Martin Bashir’s 2003 documentary weren’t the first child molestation accusations to be levelled against him. In 1993, dentist Evan Chandler said Jackson had sexually abused his 13-year-old son, Jordan. They settled out of court to the tune of $25 million, but Jackson said the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
2. Jackson often had children sleeping in his bed
The subject of Bashir’s documentary, Gavin Arvizo, and his siblings, said they often slept in Jackson’s bed, but in the documentary said Jackson would sleep on the floor. Other famous bed-mates of Jackson’s included Culkin brothers Macaulay and Kieran. Jackson and the latter maintain that there was nothing sexual about the sleepovers.
3. The charges against Jackson were initially dropped
Documentarian Bashir went on to make another video, recanting his previous assertion that Jackson was “disturbed” and instead praising his relationships with children. Gavin and his siblings also said Jackson was innocent of any impropriety as far as they were concerned. Gavin’s parents even said the children were never left alone with Jackson. The charges were dropped.
4. But the investigation continued
Despite the initial charges being dropped, there was still suspicion surrounding Jackson, and so in November 2003, 70 police stormed Jackson’s Neverland ranch with a warrant. He was once again charged: with with partaking in lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.
5. The police found some weird stuff at Neverland
Amongst stockpiles of adult pornography, police also found lifesized childlike dolls. Some reports suggested child pornography had also been found at the ranch, but police were quick to correct this in public. No child pornography was ever found at Neverland.
6. Jackson was secretly taped when he was en route to surrender
After police searched Neverland, Jackson willingly flew back to California from Las Vegas where he was recording music at the time, and surrendered himself into police custody. However, a third party had secretly wired the private jet he flew on with audio and video recording devices. Despite a restraining order against the perpetrator, the video was seen by several news outlets and it was reported that Jackson was calm and collected on his way to surrender.
7. Jackson’s lawyer was awarded $18 million as a result
Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, who was filmed on the private jet along with Jackson, was awarded a whopping $18 million in damages, paid by XtraJet, the company that flew them. The ruling was made in order to protect the confidentiality between lawyer and client from being exploited for third party gain.
8. The trial was covered by more journalists than the Scott Peterson and O.J. Simpson trials combined
Jackson’s trial was front page news around the world, and when the verdict was handed down some 2,200 reporters were convened outside the courthouse.
9. Jackson came to court in his pajamas
On March 10 in 2005, Jackson was hospitalized because of a back injury, and did not turn up to court. The judge demanded his appearance, and in what would become one of the more bizarre and iconic moments from the trial, Jackson was reluctantly ushered into court in his slippers and pajamas.
10. Conflicting stories ultimately led to a not guilty verdict
Gavin said that Jackson told him to marsturbate because men who didn’t masturbate might “rape a girl”, but Gavin had also earlier said his grandmother told him the same thing. The coincidence did not go unnoticed. Meanwhile, his brother, Star, said he snuck into Jackson’s room and observed him molesting Gavin, but the house’s inbuilt alarm system suggested he wouldn’t have been able to enter the room without some fanfare, which would have gotten Jackson’s attention. Their mother also said she observed Jackson licking Gavin’s hair on a flight while everyone slept, but a flight attendant debunked that story too. There was a lot of “he said/she said” during the trial, and a lot of conspiracy theories thrown around, ultimately leading to Jackson's acquittal.
[All photos: Getty Images]