Michael Jackson’s legacy is in tatters following the latest allegations by Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Radio stations in Canada and New Zealand have started the charge to ban his music and fans are divided over whether to believe the latest allegations. Others are struggling with whether it is possible to condemn the man but love the music. 25 years ago, Jackson faced the first high-profile accusations of child abuse involving 13-year-old Jordan Chandler. The case was famously settled out of court for over $20million. The star’s lawyer at the time, Bert Fields, revealed Jackson wanted to prove his innocence in court but was persuaded not to by famous friends.
In the book Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe, startling details reveal the turmoil and trauma started all the way back in 1993. At the time, according to court documents, a police raid on Neverland found “books and photographs in his (Jackson’s) bedroom featuring young boys with little or no clothing.”
Interviews with Fields and Jackson’s manager, Sandy Gallin, unearth yet more shocks, plus the shady involvement of former private investigator and “fixer” to the stars, Anthony Pellicano.
Facing bankruptcy and possible arrest, the book claims Jackson may even have been drugged by his team to get him out of the country.
Yet, Fields and others believed Jackson was innocent.
MAKING MICHAEL EXTRACT:
On August 18 1993, Michael was told by his attorneys that a criminal investigation of him had begun. In response, they filed extortion charges against Chandler and his attorney.
Michael was due to fly to Bangkok three days later for the tour, but he no longer felt like hitting the road. Bert Fields, fearing Michael would be arrested, called Michael’s manager Sandy Gallin and told him they needed to get Michael out of the country as soon as possible.
“Bert told me that if they didn’t get him out of the country, Michael would be arrested,” Gallin recalls. “And then the whole tour would have been cancelled at a huge financial loss. Michael was in bad financial shape [he already had debts of $30 million by 1993]. He was pouring money into Neverland, he would go on shopping sprees, and he would cancel video shoots. He was also extremely generous to his young friends. Michael did not want to go on the tour, but somehow, Anthony Pellicano got him on the plane.
“How, I don’t know. He went to his apartment in Century City; he may have drugged him, tied him up, or talked him into going quietly. I don’t think Michael understood that if he didn’t do this tour, he had a chance of losing Neverland.”
Pellicano, himself was later indicted in 2002 and imprisoned for 30 months on charges of illegal possession of explosives, firearms and homemade grenades, and again in 2008, when he began serving a 15-year sentence for subsequent convictions for crimes, including racketeering and wiretapping.
In 1993, though, once Jackson’s case against Jordan Chandler went to court, he was given conflicting advice by his legal team and his friends and family.
In the end, some members of Michael’s law team advised him to settle the civil case out of court, due to concerns about the delivery of justice and possible political and racial issues with a jury.
Bert Fields, who by now had left the case, said he was “very strongly” of the opinion that Michael should not settle. He believes it was Michael’s close friend, Elizabeth Taylor, who tipped the balance in favour of a settlement.
“I was convinced that Michael was innocent, and I had the opportunity to observe him as a father,” Fields said.
“I thought that paying a substantial amount of money would forever tarnish his reputation, and injure him professionally. But he was listening to Elizabeth Taylor, and I suspect that she had the attitude where she told him, ‘Michael you’ve got all the money in the world, why do you need a trial?’
“‘He had a very good lawyer in Johnnie Cochran, who was convinced he would have won an acquittal. It’s very tough to lose a case in which you are innocent.”
Making Michael by Mike Smallcombe (Clink Street Publishing paperback £11.99, ebook £1.99) is out now