- In August 1993, Los Angeles Police Department began investigating claims that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old boy.
- On September 14, while Jackson was on tour in Moscow, the boy’s parents sued him.
- In 2003, a documentary sparked a criminal investigation, and in December, Jackson was charged with child molesting.
- In January 2019, a new documentary has been released reviving the sexual abuse claims.
During the later part of his career, Michael Jackson faced several allegations that he molested young boys.
Police investigated him in 1993. Another accusation led to a trial in 2005 that became a pop culture spectacle, complete with crowds of supporters waiting outside the courthouse. Jackson was acquitted and died four years later while preparing for a string of concert dates he hoped would revive his career.
A new documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” has rekindled interest in the accusations. The film had its debut at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on HBO in March.
THE FIRST ACCUSATION
In August 1993, when Jackson was still a major star on the pop charts and touring to support his album “Dangerous,” the Los Angeles Police Department began investigating claims that Jackson had molested a 13-year-old boy.
Executing search warrants for a condominium in Los Angeles and Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California, police seized videotapes but found no incriminating evidence.
On September 14, while Jackson was on tour in Moscow, the boy’s parents sued the star, saying that Jackson had “repeatedly committed sexual battery” on their son. Among the accusations were that Jackson had performed oral sex on the boy and masturbated him.
Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator working for Jackson, called the suit part of an extortion attempt. “A demand for $20 million was made and presented,” he said. “It was flatly and consistently refused.” (Years later, Pellicano, known as a top Hollywood “fixer,” was accused of making death threats against journalists and in 2008 was sentenced to 15 years in prison for illegal wiretapping.)
As the case drew headlines, the Jackson camp introduced the media to children who gave interviews supporting the star. One, a 10-year-old boy named Wade Robson, told CNN about harmless “slumber parties” in Jackson’s bedroom.
On December 20, 1993, Jackson was strip-searched by police at Neverland, and photographs were taken of his genitals to compare to a description given by the boy. Two days later, Jackson spoke on live television, denying the accusations and excoriating the media.
“I am not guilty of these allegations,” Jackson said. “But if I am guilty of anything, it is of giving all that I have to give to help children all over the world.”
In January 1994, Jackson settled the case for $23 million, with $5 million going to the family’s lawyers.
FALLOUT FROM A DOCUMENTARY
In February 2003, with Jackson’s music career in decline, the documentary “Living With Michael Jackson,” based on interviews by journalist Martin Bashir, was broadcast in Britain and the United States.
In it, Jackson openly discussed sharing his bedroom with a young cancer survivor, and called people who object to such behaviour “ignorant.”
The documentary sparked a criminal investigation, and in December, Jackson was charged with child molesting, serving alcohol to a minor, conspiracy and kidnapping. He faced up to 20 years in prison.